The Environment Matters
Electronic systems present a number of environmental problems ranging from the use of toxic materials in their manufacture and construction, the nergy used during their manufacture and operation, and there eventual safe disposal at end-of-life. These real issues are only just begining to be addressed, partly by legislation, and by education. We believe that a key role is played by the system designer, and that to get optimum efficiency the software and hardware solution must be developed together, even for complex Windowed systems with Graphical User Interfaces.
All our systems are designed from the outset to minimise the impact on the environment. This means not only complying with legislation, but also ensuring that energy use during manufacture and operation is minimised. In addition the type and amount of material used during manufacture is important. We do this this by :
- Making our systems physically small, so using less material
- Using alternative non-toxic materials (for example lead-free solder)
- Using integrated systems, minimising chip counts and
- Integrating our systems onto one motherboard where possible
- Tightly integrating the operating system software and the hardware
Our systems are designed to minimise energy consumption during all modes of operation. We do this by developing both the operating system and hardware in-house. This allows us to closely control low level operations, for example by managing processor usage, and reduce power usage dynamically. Despite this by developing efficient software we can still provide fast User Interface operations for desktop computing . Low power consumption also means systems can be passively cooled (no fans required) which increases reliability and because less heat is output ,cooling within the area of the device is not required. Our computing platforms typically use 15W of power compared to an equivalent standard PC of between 100W – 300W.
We use ROHS
directives as a minimum set of requirements, and we purchase Carbon Offsets
to account for energy used by our standard products.
We offset the energy that is used during manufacture and initial operations by purchasing Carbon Credits. We use the Plan Vivo approach which is a systematic method of working with rural communities to produce verifiable emissions offsets. Approved projects (typically in 3rd World countries) use local producers to manage sustainable development programs. In most cases some form of crop or forestation is grown, and the output independantly verified in terms of its true carbon offset. The crop will be harvested by the community to create a cycle of economic activity leading to re-plantation and expansion. These projects not only benefit the environment, but also support developing countries.
Restriction of Hazardous Substances is an EU directive designed to reduce the level of toxic materials contained within electronic devices. It includes requirements on manufacturers to use non-toxic solder where possible. It is meant to reduce the impact of disposal of redundant and end-of-life devices on the environment.
The Waste Electrical Equipment Directive is another EU directive, expected to be in place by end of 2006, that places an onus on manufacturers, distributors and users of electrical and electronic equipment to arrange for safe disposal of the equipment when it is no longer required. The directive will avoid the un-controlled use of land fill for disposal of most electronic products.