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View Full Version : How bad are Macs for the environment?


stevehaslip
Jul 30, 2004, 08:20 AM
Ok. What with the recent findings in Greenland about global warming (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3922579.stm) i suddenly had a thought. Is my Mac doing eveil things to the environment? Ok i know that alot of things i own do bad things by using energy etc But how much electricity does my G5 use when its sleeping??? Everybody says that the only thing drawing power is the ram, enough to keep whatevers in the memory. Right? But TV's left on standby all day use more power than if they were used for an evenings viewing. Does my Mac sit there sucking power unnecessarily all day when i'm not using it? My Dads Windows machines sleep function it basically full on, unlike the mac. Does anyone know how much power any of the current apple lineup use?

yellow
Jul 30, 2004, 08:44 AM
Not very much. My Mac is on always.
It added about $10-15 (~5-7 GBP) to our monthly power bill.

caveman_uk
Jul 30, 2004, 09:11 AM
According to this (http://www.apple.com/environment/design/energy/success.html) it looks like macs use around 10W when asleep - less than one of those energy efficient light bulb thingies. I don't know how much they use when on but I'd guess a powermac uses about 350W.

Makosuke
Jul 30, 2004, 02:02 PM
That graph from Apple is correct; I spent some time with a Wattmeter and my 1st gen Dual 2.0 G5, and I was amazed at how little the thing draws when it's off--much less than the G4 it replaced, or any PC I've tested recently. It does OK sleeping (about the same as the previous generation G4s), as well, though it certainly sucks up power when it's on and running hard (huge difference between idle and heavy load, I might add).

Here's a guy who has a chart of numbers written down, and although I don't have my own measurements in front of me, they look the same as what I remember finding (though I thought my G5 drew less power idling than this shows):

http://www.mulle-kybernetik.com/weblog/archives/000352.html

(It's interesting to note that, unlike with previous computers from Apple and most PCs as far as I know, running SETI, Folding, or a similar distributed computing program on an otherwise not-so-heavily-loaded G5 will significantly increase your power bill, since the G5 uses almost twice as much power under heavy processing load as when idle. Or, more accurately put, it can save half of its power when it's not working hard, unlike most other desktop chips, which waste that.)

Applespider
Jul 30, 2004, 04:42 PM
The biggest environmental danger with computers is the disposal of them.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3549763.stm halfway down the page has a list of some of the nasty things that are in there!

I guess since Macs seem to have a longer usable life than PCs, they're slightly better. I am wondering what will happen in Europe when the law requiring manufacturers to dispose of unwanted computers comes in? A trade-in deal perhaps?

mklos
Jul 30, 2004, 06:45 PM
According to this (http://www.apple.com/environment/design/energy/success.html) it looks like macs use around 10W when asleep - less than one of those energy efficient light bulb thingies. I don't know how much they use when on but I'd guess a powermac uses about 350W.

Actually a PowerMac G5 uses a 600 Watt power supply! G5 processors are very power hungry, plus the 9 cooling fans! And people wonder why there isn't a G5 in a PowerBook????

Generally speaking though, Macs are very power efficient. Both the G4 and G5 processors are very efficient in the way they do things, and all Macs not have LCDs, and that also lowers the power requirements down a little.

stevehaslip
Jul 31, 2004, 03:19 AM
wicked, save the planet man! macs for hippies! :D low power powermacs!

also in regards to the power supplies there were numerous different powers, i think that the original single processor 1.6 and 1.8Ghz G5s had a smaller powersupply (350 watt?) and the original dual 2Ghz used 500 or 600watt. But i have no idea about the latest rev. Its probably a bit more like nklos said.

MacFan26
Jul 31, 2004, 04:11 AM
wicked, save the planet man! macs for hippies! :D low power powermacs!


Steve would be a supporter :D

I think the important thing is just the proper disposal of electronic equipment. I think too many people just don't know the dangers of this stuff, and don't know how to get rid of it. Due to the amount of computers, etc. that people go through in a year, there will eventually be more places to take used computer stuff. There are places now, but definitely not enough.

superbovine
Jul 31, 2004, 05:30 AM
You should think about how much population goes into creating the components of the Mac.

Also, just think if there wasn't a nuclear arms race there wouldn't be an internet :eek:

stevehaslip
Jul 31, 2004, 06:44 AM
Steve would be a supporter :D

I think the important thing is just the proper disposal of electronic equipment. I think too many people just don't know the dangers of this stuff, and don't know how to get rid of it. Due to the amount of computers, etc. that people go through in a year, there will eventually be more places to take used computer stuff. There are places now, but definitely not enough.

Thats ok!! I'm a hoarder!! i hold on to everything!

You should think about how much population goes into creating the components of the Mac.

Also, just think if there wasn't a nuclear arms race there wouldn't be an internet :eek:

:eek::eek: Now that I did not know!

7on
Jul 31, 2004, 03:17 PM
I doubt even 1.6Ghz had 350watt PSU. At least a 500watt, if not the 600 watt one. Apple always uses larger than needed PSUs in at least their Powermacs. In case people need to add on, oh not to mention ADC equipped Macs also need to power the monitor through the PSU too.

Makosuke
Jul 31, 2004, 06:51 PM
Along the lines of the disopsal of computers being a real environmental issue, it's woth noting that a significant percentage of the fossil fuels consumed by a computer during its lifetime will be burned before the computer is ever turned on--the factories that produce the components in a computer, and the raw materials that go into those components, use a vast amount of power. Same goes for cars and most other energy-intensive products.

So, the longer you use a computer, the more efficient it is, and not just because of the waste produced when it's thrown out. Many PCs have a theoretical advantage in this department--they're upgradeable in bits and pieces (new processor here, new motherboard there, etc)--though in actuality I have a feeling most Macs are in service far longer than the average PC.

Things should hopefully be better in general now that the rate of advancement in computer power has slowed somewhat, and even several year old computers are more than enough for the average user--more like cars, really.

By the way, Apple isn't as good when it comes to recycling as some companies, but they do have a section of their website (http://www.apple.com/environment/recycling/); in the US, Apple has a contract with a company that you buy a pre-paid UPS label from, load a box up with computer junk, slap the label on, and everything from there on is taken care of. $30 for up to 60 pounds (http://www.recycleapc.com/apple/index.asp) of random hardware isn't too bad, especially since they claim they even try to put stuff back into service if possible, and you can even mail in those hard-to-dispose-of CRTs.

Sun Baked
Jul 31, 2004, 07:48 PM
wicked, save the planet man! macs for hippies! :D low power powermacs!

also in regards to the power supplies there were numerous different powers, i think that the original single processor 1.6 and 1.8Ghz G5s had a smaller powersupply (350 watt?) and the original dual 2Ghz used 500 or 600watt. But i have no idea about the latest rev. Its probably a bit more like nklos said.A new DP 2.5GHz PowerMac and a 30" LCD and you're looking at the 500-600W range (30"LCD 150W, with 6800 card at 75-90W).

Otherwise you're looking at 325W for a DP Powermac G5 for the CPU alone without high-draw BTO options (aka, extra drives, 9800XT card (75W), etc.) but it'll idle around 170W in skewed operation.

But a dual 30" monitors, cable modem, routers, DP 2.5GHz PM, setup loaded with drives and during the burning DVDs you'll suck down some Watts.

Of course what is really sad is for a lot of these low draw devices like routers, hubs, etc. the power brick is probably wasting much more power each day that the device itself.

Ajmbc
Jul 31, 2004, 09:18 PM
Here is Apple's policy (http://www.apple.com/environment/policy/) regarding the computers they build and the environment.

Their banned substance list is quite extensive.

-aj

superbovine
Jul 31, 2004, 09:22 PM
Here is Apple's policy (http://www.apple.com/environment/policy/) regarding the computers they build and the environment.

-aj

the still doesn't count for components. i.e. tranistor, resistor etc that were purchased or made by the contractors sub-contractors etc. those people do not worry about enviromental standards.

cubist
Jul 31, 2004, 09:30 PM
I think this stuff about computers being bad for the environment is a lot of rot. There isn't anything in a computer that isn't in a TV, and people have been disposing of TVs for 50 years already without a whisper of this environmentalist baloney.

jared_kipe
Jul 31, 2004, 10:16 PM
Running a Powermac G5 is probably as wasteful as having two or three 60W light bulbs on.

konaforever
Jul 31, 2004, 11:33 PM
Every time you turn on your mac, a kitten dies.

Makosuke
Aug 1, 2004, 01:38 AM
There isn't anything in a computer that isn't in a TV, and people have been disposing of TVs for 50 years already without a whisper of this environmentalist baloney.
This is only half true; CRTs are very bad for the environment (lots of lead in the glass), and there's a lot more that goes into making a pile of chips than a big glass tube with an electron gun on the back end. You can say that you don't care one way or the other, or that there's probably a whole lot worse going on in the world, but it's not that simple.

If you really want to know, CRT-based TVs and monitors contain as much as several pounds of lead bound up in the glass (for radiation shielding). This is why they're so expensive to dispose of, and why nobody will take them.

Saying that they've ben thrown away for years without any ill effects isn't true at all, as a relative of mine who happens to be visiting right now and does toxic waste cleanup for a living will attest to. The stuff that people used to just toss in the back yard or bury behind the factory (white lead behind a paint factory, CRTs in landfills, etc) causes groundwater pollution, birth defects, and all manner of nasty things decades down the road, and they're now very, very expensive to clean up.

That's only CRTs, and although there are other problems with the production of LCDs, that's why they're generally vastly preferable to CRTs even when you don't take the energy savings into account.

Plus, if you look inside your computer, you'll see hundreds of little chips; each of those chips contains some silicon, probably some copper and aluminum, maybe some tin and lead. No big deal, but the factories used to make those chips often use a whole lot of energy and a wide variety of toxic chemicals in the production of these chips, and in many cases they're located in Malaysia and other countries that have very poor environmental laws (not to mention poor labor laws).

Point being that these aren't always benign little chips--a lot goes into making them, and it shouldn't just be ignored. Not saying you should never buy a new computer--I have a brand new G5 myself--but pretending that computers are environmentally perfect or pretending that the lead and other toxics that go into making them aren't really anything to worry about is just unnecessary.

It's heartening to hear when people actually care a bit about the impacts of what they do. Even if it isn't all that bad, or you decide that it's worth the downdsides, it'd be nice if everybody took the effort to find out one way or the other.

anubis
Aug 1, 2004, 02:59 AM
It seems silly to worry about something like this. Cars are much worse for the environment than your Mac. Consider that to make a car (including tires), it takes about 40,000 gallons of fresh water. That's not including the gas it takes to run the car, the electricity to run the gas station, the water used to create the boat that brought the precious oil, the water used to create the pavement you drive on, etc etc. This doesn't even include the worst part of the car: the pollutants that come out of the exhaust pipe.

So what were we talking about again?

slughead
Aug 1, 2004, 11:44 AM
Well I laughed (http://www.tenthousandpercent.com/viewtopic.php?p=3391&ppp=1&tpl=article).. anyways, Macs have always been low power, however monitors have a terrible effect on the environment.

CRTs generate 'evil' electro magnetic radiation that would normally cause sun burns.. had they not start putting lead in the glass. Yes, you heard me, lead. The lead in the glass does 3 things:
1. makes the EMR coming off the CRT safe for you to look at
2. makes the glass in the monitor damn near impossible to recycle
3. makes throwing the glass away a nightmare for the environment

Also, most old computer parts (including monitors) go to a single location in china where their raw materials are extracted and the rest put in gigantic, terrible, apocalyptic land fills. However, those land fills are exclusively in china so it doesn't effect us :)

Timelessblur
Aug 1, 2004, 01:51 PM
in sleep mode/stand-by mode (for both PC and macs) the ram is running at min power. Mac may have to feed some power to there CPU since USBs require CPU power to work. When my pc is in standy mod the ram is powered and my PS2 slots are powered so when I click the mouse the computer wakes up.

in full shut down mod all computers still us some where around 10-20W of power. The power is to keep some things running like the clock and what not because it better to draw the power from an outside sorce than to start draining lithuim bat on the mobo. That and some things like the mouse and keyboard are still fed some power. I know on mine I have it set to power my ps2 mouse (jumpers and bios) and key board so I can power up from full shutdown with them. Mac I believe are set up to be very simular in that respect.

When computer and in full power mod the biggest drain on power is the CPU (around 80-85w) and the mointor draw the most power. If they are crt they draw a lot more power. Now when they are turned off monitor still draw some power. LCD draw bettween 3-5W CRT are in the range of 10w (like TVs). I know for example my 17in LCD draws around 100W when powered on. When it in low power standymod it draws 3W and when it off it draws 3w so normaly I just my mointors go to low power standymod than bother hitting the off switch since they are basicly the same thing.

Now thowing away computer is very toxic to the enivorment because they are pretty loaded with toxic chemicals. I know in making computer parts it highly toxic and if something goes wrong hazemat crews in the full chem suits have to come in and make check out everything. They have required to have very sentive alarm sytem that can that call them in and if the alarm glitchs the hazemate crews come in to make sure before people are safe to go back into the area.

konaforever
Aug 1, 2004, 02:39 PM
Kitten killers.