Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies


Computer Science
Green Information and Communications Technology Strategies

Unit 2: Technical Strategy and Planning

Seminar: Materials Use

Energy reduction is only part of making a green ICT system. There is also the issue of use of materials and hazardous substances.


Electronic waste (e-waste) is the material from unwanted electrical or electronic devices. Some e-waste can be sold for recycling and is described as commodity to distinguish it from waste, which can’t be reused. E-waste may contain toxic material, most of which is not biodegradable.

Many countries have regulations covering e-waste, including bans from landfills in Europe. Inclusion of metals, including gold and silver, make some e-waste commercially viable to reprocess. Canada developed an e-waste strategy as part of its 2007–2009 Sustainable Development Strategy. The purpose was to ensure that federal e-waste does not contribute to the global issue of improper e-waste disposal and the associated negative impacts on human health, environment, and information security.  Canada implemented the Federal Electronic Waste Strategy  in 2010.

At this time in Canada, “surplus” electronic assets—those that have reached the end of their intended useful life—can be reused or disposed of via environmentally responsible methods. Regarding disposal, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia have established Provincial Extended Producer Responsibility Programs.

Movement of E-Waste

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel Convention) is an international treaty limiting the movement of hazardous waste between nations, particularly from rich to poor nations. Australia, the European Union, and many developed nations apart from the USA have ratified the treaty.

Canadian Interprovincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations (SOR/2002-301)

If your home country is not Canada, do some research to find if any similar regulations exist on the movement of hazardous waste where you live.

Do some research to find if EPEATTM or similar tools are used in your home country.

The goal of the Interprovincial Movement of Hazardous Waste Regulations is to ensure that the Canadian manifest tracking and hazards classification conditions for waste are maintained for interprovincial movement of hazardous wastes.

The Interprovincial Regulations were required as a consequence of the new Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDG Regulations 1992), which no longer included provisions for manifest tracking of hazardous waste. The new interprovincial regulations, which came into force on August 15, 2002, include the following provision under section 191 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), 1999: the Governor in Council has the authority to make regulations respecting conditions governing the movement of hazardous wastes and hazardous recyclable materials within Canada.


The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEATTM) is a system for evaluating electronic products against 51 environmental criteria from the US-based Green Electronics Council.

The criteria are contained in the IEEE Standard for Environmental Assessment of Personal Computer Products, Including Notebook Personal Computers, Desktop Personal Computers, and Personal Computer Displays 1680.1-2009.

Products are ranked in three tiers:

  1. Bronze: Meets 23 required criteria
  2. Silver: Meets all required criteria plus at least 50% of the optional criteria
  3. Gold: Meets all required criteria plus at least 75% of the optional criteria

Criteria for materials are grouped into the following categories:

  • reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials,
  • materials selection,
  • design for end of life,
  • product longevity/life cycle extension,
  • end of life management, and
  • packaging.

Energy conservation using US EPA Energy Star and Corporate performance with adoption of ISO 14001 are among the criteria.

Government Procurement Using EPEATTM

US Government agencies are required to procure products which meet 95% percent of the EPEATTM criteria under “Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.” The Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator (University of Tennessee, March 2009) was used to assess EPEAT. The United States EPA sponsored the Calculator, which estimates benefits such as greenhouse gas reductions, waste avoided, and mercury eliminated for EPEAT purchases. For 2007, reduction in use of primary materials was assessed at 75.5 tons, reduction in toxic materials at 3,220 tons, and avoidance in the disposal hazardous waste at 124,000 metric tons.

The Electronic Environmental Benefits Calculator uses the following metrics:

  • energy savings
  • greenhouse gas reduction
  • solid waste reduction
  • primary material savings
  • hazardous waste reduction
  • toxic material reduction
  • air emissions
  • water emissions

The calculator is provided as an Excel spreadsheet. Purchasing data input is the number and types of EPEAT products purchased. The tool calculates the environmental benefits from the EPEAT products compared to an average non-EPEAT product.

Last modified: Thursday, 12 June 2014, 10:26 PM MDT
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