Monday, 20 May 2013

The carbon emissions to manufacture an iPad can be the equivalent of 128 years of use

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has published a study on the power consumption of the latest iPad models. Using this data, plus its own estimates of the energy used to manufacture electronic devices, has estimated that making an iPad emits 77 times more greenhouse gas emissions than a year of use in France.

The EPRI study estimates that the new iPad takes 11.9 kWh per year to use (assuming that the iPad is charged every other day on average). According to, manufacturing the tablet emits 83 kg CO2e, but the EPRI data means that use for a year in France would requires ‘just’ 1.1 kg CO2e.

By comparison, the first iPad models consumed only 7.2 kWh per year, emitting 0.65 kg CO2e, so for these devices manufacturing time represented an even greater 128 years of use in France. has come up with similar figures for other devices:

- IPhone 5S 190 times more emissions during manufacturing that when using in France,

- MacBook Pro 15-inch: 90 times more emissions during manufacturing that when using in France,


Review:  A reminder that the carbon emissions of computer devices, or any electronic device, is not just dependent on the energy when it’s being used. The use phase can be virtually insignificant compared to manufacture and even the process of recycling at the end of life needs to be considered in lifetime emissions.

In choosing products it’s essential to consider the full lifecycle implications. It’s not easy to do, but, for example, EPEAT assessments of IT products can provide a better indication of all-round sustainability than simple measures of energy efficiency, such as Energy Star. In any case, EPEAT includes an Energy Star assessment.

The main problem is that it’s still difficult to make the best choices, with a multitude of national and international energy assessments for products, some backed by legislation and some not. But if the iPad figures are anything to go by, it seems daft to go on usage energy consumption alone.  

Thanks to

© The Green IT Review

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