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Pink & Black | July 30, 2014

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Pros and Cons of Tablet Sustainability

Pros and Cons of Tablet Sustainability
Sonja York

All the rage last year, as well as into 2013, tablet ownership is still growing fast, even surpassing smartphones. When shopping for your next eco-friendly tablet, consider the implications of this technology, its pros and cons. Tablets are in fact reducing carbon dioxide emissions, paper use and production water consumption.

According to the new infographic by Uberflip called The Sustainability of Tablets, an iPad produces 2.5 grams of CO2 per hour while an incandescent light bulb gives 48.4 grams of CO2 per hour. For a printed book, 7 gallons of water is used for production, while an e-book needs less than 2 cups of water. Most feel the reduction in printing and paper use is the key factor for waste reduction. The newspaper and book publishing industry together use 153 billion gallons of water annually, so reading online is better for the environment. While tablets are helping us to de-materialize and consume far less than before, e-waste is still a major problem.

Soon global e-waste is estimated to reach 25 million tons by 2025. Additional factors of how manufacturers are committing to reducing greenhouse emissions, such as clean energy advocacy, post-consumer recycled plastic use, energy efficient tablets, renewable energy within manufacturing and levels of dirty energy. According to a Greenpeace study Apple scored poorly for transparency on several of these factors. We as consumers can affect e-waste, but manufacturers also need to be held accountable. Apple and Samsung are in the process of implementing device recycling programs whereby customers can trade old devices in for discounts on new purchases. As consumers it may be hard to resist the latest tablet on the market, but try to use the devices for the entirety of its lifetime. It’s about having fewer products to recycle as well as recycling when device are done with their use.

When buying a tablet that’s more environmentally-friendly, consider battery life, repairability, user experience and design in order to love it and keep using it longer. Check out Treehugger’s Tablet Guide: How 5 Top Tablets Stack Up. Out of the five tablets, I’d go with the Google Nexus 7 for software, good battery life, and a nice score of 7 out of 10 for repairability from iFixit, as well as the Amazon Kindle Fire HD for media entertainment, long battery life, and 7 out of 10 for repairability.

A high score from iFixit also means that the device can be easily disassembled which can lead to easier recycling later on. Both products are the lowest priced out of the five tablets. Stick with well-known makers who have more resources for repair and recyclability of products. You can also request tablets with new first of its kind sustainability certification called TCO Certified Tablets 2. Also check out MicroPro’s wooden tablet PC called Lameco, which may be the most eco-friendly tablet on the market, with a 70 percent smaller carbon footprint (less than 360 kilograms CO2eq over entire life) and 98 percent recyclable.

(Photo via Talk Android)