Greener laptops are carbon neutral

Louise Smyth

A UK-based IT company is claiming a world first – by producing remanufactured, carbon-neutral laptops.

Circular Computing has invested in a purpose-built computer remanufacturing facility. It is shipping thousands of remanufactured enterprise-grade laptops each month to the rapidly increasing number of businesses around the world focusing on moving their strategy from cradle-to-grave to cradle-to-cradle – in other words, recovering and re-using products.

As well as countries across Europe, the company recently signed a contract with US Fortune 200 business process services giant, Synnex, to supply its customers across North America.  

The IT industry causes as much greenhouse gas pollution as the entire airline industry, with figures rising as internet usage soars. More than 160 million new laptops are made every year, responsible for around 17% of electronic waste, and production depends on many of the earth's dwindling resources, including rare 'conflict' minerals, metals and water.

This is the first time that computers have been remanufactured. Over 600Kgs of CO2 are sequestered by every laptop. This means they have a zero carbon footprint as well as having the original CO2 from OEM manufacturing reversed.

Up to now, computers have only been refurbished – in other words, repaired, without performing or looking like new, so tend to come without any long-term warranty and are of little interest to corporate decision-makers looking to invest in IT.

Circular Computing's laptops are completely re-built to perform and look like new, which is why so many corporations across the globe are aligning their IT investment with sustainable purchasing. These computers have to meet original factory performance and are arguably, in fact, better than new because all known failure modes for the product or part have been addressed in the remanufacturing process. They cost around 40% less than their equivalent new top-brand laptop, and the company re-purchases the laptops every three years to re-join the remanufacturing process and be redeployed to other areas where they remain fit for purpose. In total, the company estimates three re-loop cycles and another nine years of useful life, which in turn creates enormous positive environmental, ethical and social impact.

The company also invests in high-impact clean energy and social initiatives to mitigate climate change, create jobs and empower local communities to become more sustainable. Circular Computing plant five trees for every laptop sold (tens of thousands already in a range of countries across the globe) through reforestation projects – meaning it not only offsets, but also compensate for legacy carbon emissions. The newly signed US deal will result in reforestation of more than 1.5 million trees.