Modern technology gives us many things.

How opting for refurbished equipment paves way for a sustainable future


The market for refurbished equipment is on a constant rise. While most businesses opt for refurbished equipment to save money, there’s also another benefit of doing so.

It’s an environmentally friendly way of acquiring and using equipment. There was a time when only medical equipment were refurbished and traded. However, today you can opt for cisco refurbished tools and all types of computer devices as well.

Are There Really Environment Benefits of Opting For Refurbished IT Equipment

This is the first question you’d ask. How can doing so help the environment? Dr. Eric Williams, professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, wrote at length about the environmental impact of choosing refurbished equipment in his book Computers and the Environment, Understanding and Managing Their Impacts.

Written by Ruediger Kuehr and Eric Williams, the book covers the importance of refurbishing by highlighting the environmental cost of manufacturing.

According to their findings, the cost of producing IT equipment is huge, especially when it comes to microprocessors. In fact, it requires about 3,330 pounds of water, 530 pounds of fossil fuels, and 50 pounds of chemicals to manufacture 53 pounds of CRT monitors and desktop computers.

They concluded that it’s better to add more life to these devices than to recycle. According to their research, adding only about three years to a device’s life can save about 20% energy.

This is very important because energy is limited as it’s created from scarce resources. The world is already facing the challenge of sustainability. The more energy we can save, the better it is for the economy.

What Else Did the Research Find?

One of the main points highlighted in the book is the fact that a computer has already consumed about 75% of PC energy even before it is first turned on.

Most computers have a life of about four years. Of course, some computer-related products, such as some Cisco equipment, may last longer depending on the use and other such factors.

Nonetheless, if we can add even two years to the life of a computer, we’ll be able to enjoy huge environment benefits given that over one billion computers are used around the world.

More Experts Share the Same Views

Kuehr and Williams are not the only ones supporting ‘refurbished’ equipment.  Paul Hawken made a few solid claims in his book Natural Capitalism.

According to the book the ratio between raw material and the end result is 4000:1. This means when you throw away a laptop that weighs 4 pounds, you basically throw away 16,000 pounds of raw material.

It’s not easy to acquire raw materials used in the production of IT equipment. Most have complex supply chains. Circuit boards, for example, involve a very lengthy supply chain.

Manufacturers first have to acquire raw materials from factories and mines all around the world. This all comes together and then starts the manufacturing process.

In fact, a report published by the University of Illinois Sustainable Electronics Initiative stated that each mobile phone or PC contains about half the elements found on the periodic table.

It Is Not Only About Computers or Mobile Phones

While the market for refurbished computers and mobile phones is huge, the truth is that you can find almost all IT equipment on the refurbished market. At the end of the day, they all offer the same environmental benefits while also allowing you to save money.

According to the EPA’s Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator, it’s 25x more advantageous to reuse IT equipment than to recycle them.

Moreover, a life cycle assessment found that the benefit extracted out of refurbishing only increases when it comes to devices that are energy efficient.

It Helps The Environment and Saved You Money – But How Does it Perform?

It is natural for you to get concerned when it comes to using refurbished equipment. Most of us throw away old equipment when they get slow or do not perform up to the mark. So, why should you use a product that the other person does not find useful anymore?

A major reason why machines get slow or malfunction is due to issues with hardware or software. The good thing is that these issues can be solved by upgrading components, cleaning out the equipment, or repairing what’s damaged.

Other than this, you must make sure to use the right software. For example, if you have a three year old computer then use software that are three year old. The latest software may not work well. Otherwise, refurbished tools work as well as new tools.

The Last Word

According to a report published in 2016, companies that opt for sustainability report higher profits than companies that do not care for sustainable-business models.

There’s a need to turn to sustainable manufacturing not just in Australia but around the globe. America, for example, uses 25% of its energy in manufacturing. The figure goes as high as 50% in India.

Using refurbished equipment can be that first step towards a sustainable future.