The cost of making it cheap…

We’ve all used the phrase “cheap Chinese rubbish”, but isn’t that phrase a little outdated now? After all, almost everything is made in China these days, including a lot of very high quality items. Even the prestige car manufacturer Bentley sources many components from China (source).  But, let’s be honest China still produces plasticky rubbish by the container fleet load and most of this often has a very short lifespan and ends up in the recycling, or worse in the ocean.  Can we blame China for what is probably the highest amount of single use plastics ever being produced in all of manufacturing history? (source) No, we can’t totally blame China for this, they have 1.4 billion mouths to feed, and everything they produce is purely driven by global demand. China appear to have a far more responsible attitude towards the future than many other countries (source).

In 2017 plastic production peaked at over 81 million tonnes. If that was manufactured as solid blocks of plastic, it would fill 320 container ships the size of the one that blocked the Suez Canal recently. In China itself, they claim to recycle around 30% of plastics, compared to a claimed 43% here in the UK, although sources have exposed that a quantity of this is exported abroad and possibly just dumped (source).  The important fact here is that over 55% isn’t recycled and is either ending up in landfill, burned in power stations or in the sea.

Going back to quality, the electrical items we buy can make a significant impact on the environment. Cheap electrical items are likely to be less energy efficient and have a shorter lifespan, meaning they’ll waste power and end up being recycled or disposed of sooner.

At Connect, we obviously don’t sell physical products, served in single use plastics, however we do our part by purchasing better quality and proven IT equipment. Apart from the odd glitch, generally our IT equipment gives many years of reliable service. The longer a piece of equipment remains in service, the smaller it’s carbon footprint becomes as we are not requiring new equipment to be manufactured as often. This has the obvious business benefits of less downtime and better working efficiency.

In recent years, we replaced all the hard drives in some of our aging computers with SSD (Solid State Drive) types. These drives are excellent for four reasons. Firstly, they have no moving parts, meaning that they use much less energy (source). Secondly they work up to ten times faster, which is great for workload efficiency. So far, they appear to very reliable, which again is great for workload efficiency and also the reduced carbon footprint due to long service. Finally, because SSDs revive aging computers systems, this also reduces the manufacturing carbon footprint, not mention saving the firm a considerable amount from the IT budget.

In summary, at Connect we’re aware that buying cheap often means buying the same thing more than once. And that isn’t just a waste of money, it’s inefficient and can produce a significant environmental impact. We’ve taken the personal responsibility to source better equipment with the hope that the reduced energy costs and longevity will be another way we can do our part.