In the quest to “turn the tide” of climate change, the mantra “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” is a cardinal rule. And as greenhouse gas emissions are at the top of the suspect list of climate bad guys, reducing emissions has become the holy grail. And to reduce emissions, you have to know what your emissions are and take steps to reduce them. You have to measure your emissions, and of course, that leads us back to classifying emissions into Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions, and the need to quantify each class. 

At CNE we are paying close attention to ways we can reduce and even obviate the Scope 3 emissions associated with the potential end of life of IT assets. First and foremost, if an asset or its constituent components can find a new life, that is by far the best outcome. Reuse trumps both recycling and new manufacturing because it makes use of the materials and energy that have already gone into the initial manufacturing of the initial asset. 

It’s estimated that Scope 3 emissions account for 90% of all emissions, and “Across all of the categories, transportation is usually a top three contributor to total emissions.” In light of this, CNE considers both the emissions in getting assets to us and the emissions associated with getting assets to their next destination.

We’ve positioned our main processing facility in the U.S. in Columbus, Ohio, very central in the country and in close proximity to major shipping lanes and hubs. More importantly, we are positioned to optimize assets’ transport to their envisioned afterlife. Where will these assets go? Who will buy them and where will they be used? We’ve positioned ourselves where transport of our newly processed assets to their new lives is as expeditious as possible.

In addition, we’ve created one very sophisticated facility in the U.S. for another very important reason. In the U.S., buildings account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. To help keep our footprint small, minimizing the amount of real estate we occupy is paramount. Our analysis determined that creating multiple locations to simply be closer to an initial pickup of assets is a bad trade from an environmental perspective. The energy and associated GHG emissions are multiplied across all facilities, which are always on, necessitating heating, cooling and lighting. Further, having multiple facilities does nothing to mitigate the often-neglected journey to the assets’ next destination. 

Quantifying sustainability, accounting for emissions is no simple task. As we scrutinize our processes, we are looking both upstream and downstream. Driving sustainability is core to our mission both for our internal operations and for the work we do for our customers.  

Join me in my continuing blog series as I discuss all things related to sustainable electronics. My previous blogs include:

Sustainable Electronics
Energy and Electronics
What Goes in Doesn't Always Come Out
Conflict Minerals and Electronics
What is Scope 1, 2 & 3 Emissions?
The Big Squeeze – Leveraging Buying Power to Effect Sustainability Goals
More About Scope 3 Emissions
The Lifecycle Assessment
Why We Don't Throw Electronics in the Trash
The Imperative to Reuse Reclaimed Materials 

carol-baroudi-smCarol Baroudi has been focused on sustainable electronics for more than 15 years and is recognized for her prominent work as lead author for Green IT for Dummies. Carol is a contributing guest blogger for CNE Direct and consulting to support new sustainability initiatives.