Environmental Impact Life Cycle Assessment of a Laptop Analysis

Table of Content


Life Cycle Assessment ( LCA ) is a tool that helps us to measure, analyze and diminish the environmental impact of merchandise, in this instance Laptop from extraction of their natural stuff to to the full developed merchandise and disposal of laptop after its use over certain period of clip. In this paper, Life Cycle Assessment of Apple MacBook Air with screen size of 11” is performed. It is found that during whole life rhythm, fabrication of laptop has important impact ( 47 % ) on environment, followed by Usage stage that accounts to 38 % .


Today, life without computing machines is impossible as the importance and demand of these electronic devices in our life is invariably increasing. Recently, laptops have become normally used in place, school, and works. More than 170 million laptops were sold in 2014

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. Laptops have different constituents that are manufactured in states like China, Taiwan, India, Korea and Thailand ; they so are transported to China for assembly intents and so are farther transported throughout universe for distribution intents. Large sum of natural stuffs are used to fabricate laptops. Some of these stuffs are aluminum, Cu, Fe, quicksilver, etc .

Normal laptops life span is 3-5 twelvemonth before it disposal or recycled. Most people replace their laptops when a new engineering or theoretical account is available. Most of the laptops are stop up in the landfill after been used. Because some chemicals used in laptops during fabrication, disposing them in the incorrect manner may do a great harm to the environment. A great sum of energy is required to construct a new laptop.

Therefore, laptops pass through different phases get downing from extraction of natural stuffs into disposal or recycling. To to the full understand the overall environmental impact of laptops, a survey of the life rhythm appraisal ( LCA ) is necessary. The laptop that has been chosen in this survey is Apple MacBook Air 11” . This papers will incorporate some background information belong to the LCA and merchandise. Besides elaborate design methodological analysis that used in this survey is discussed in inside informations. The consequences will be discussed and some betterments will be suggested based on the concluding consequences.

Background Research

Life rhythm appraisal is a tool for the analysis of the environmental load of merchandises at all phases in their life rhythm from the extraction of resources, processing, fabrication, distribution, usage, and disposal or recyclin . The environmental load covers all types of impacts that can be associated with laptops upon the environment ; this is including the extraction of different types of resources, emanation of risky substances, and land usage.

The ISO 14040 criterion has been developed with a four measure attack:

  • end and range definition,
  • stock list analysis,
  • impact appraisal,
  • reading.

The construct of LCA is pictured in figure 1. Goal and range is placing the end of the survey, and finding the boundaries and premises based upon the end definition. Some merchandises contain 100s of stuffs and 1000s of parts. Therefore, it is necessary to utilize the five present regulation: if a stuff or constituent comprise less than 5 present by the weight of the merchandise, it is neglected in the LCA.

Inventory analysis is an stock list of all inputs ( Natural stuffs extraction, energy, etc. ) and outputs ( airborne emanations, solid waste, etc. ) . Impact appraisal is gauging the environmental impacts based on the consequences of the stock list analysis. Finally reading, which evaluate the chances to cut down the environmental impacts at each phase of the merchandise life rhythm.

These attacks will be discussed in inside informations in the methodological analysis subdivision. LCA reckoner will be used in this study to gauge the entire impacts of the laptop. The chief characteristics of this tool is that it let you to Compare bing merchandises with theoretical options, estimate the environmental impact of a merchandise over its full life span, and mark specific C emanations of single phases of the merchandises life rhythm.

Figure 1 the construct of life rhythm appraisal

Peoples should be cognizant from their consequence on environment and society if they are non recycled. The primary impacts of this design on the environment the usage of big sum of different stuffs such as aluminium, steel, plastic and other stuffs. Although during procedure of these stuffs to bring forth laptops it will creates a batch of emanation. Apple stated that most of their nursery gas emanation comes from the production, transit, usage of the merchandise and recycling.

Apple end is to put up rigorous design for stuffs and energy efficiency to minimise nursery gas emanation. There were important increasing in nursery gas emanations of twelvemonth 2010 and 2014. Harmonizing to Apple in 2010, the entire sum of nursery gas was 280 kilogram Co2e, nevertheless in 2014 this value increased to 430 kilograms Co2e which is around 42 % of increasing.

In general, laptops do non devour much electricity but they still have carbon footmark. Since MacBook meets ENERGEY STARS demand, there are non much impact on the environment through electricity. It stated that 11-inch MacBook Air consumes 58 % less energy than the bound for ENERGY STAR programme demand.

In 2014, it was reported that MacBook air consume 6.1 W in idle where show on compared to 2010 which the power ingestion was 8.4 W. The worst toxic wrongdoers are Mercury, lead, Arsenic and PVC where those stuffs are harmful to the ambiance and workers. Apple had wholly eliminated those toxics from their merchandise since 2009. Apple replaced quicksilver to backlight for the fluorescent lamps of MacBook with more energy efficient. They besides replaced PVC with non-chlorinated and non-brominated thermoplastic for both power cords and earphones overseas telegrams.

This study will discourse LCA of a laptop and suggest some betterments that can cut down the environmental impacts. The chief aims of this survey are:

  • Investigate the environmental impacts associated with laptops at each phase.
  • Determine which life rhythm phases contribute the greatest environmental impacts.
  • Introduce some recommendations to cut down environmental impact.

The end of this survey is to better the environmental public presentation of the laptop by look intoing its life rhythm. The system boundaries of analysis include: extraction of natural stuffs, processing of natural stuffs, fabricating the constituents of the laptop, transit, assembly, transit, distribution, usage, and concluding disposal. Materials used in packaging besides included in this survey. The boundaries of the system are presented in Fig. 3. Some phases were excluded in this survey such as transporting natural stuffs to the processing installation.

Figure 2 The boundaries of the LCA of the Laptops.

Inventory analysis

The laptop is made of different stuffs and constituents. The exact beginning of natural stuffs is non traced, extraction and processing of natural stuffs are merely assumed. Since Chile is largest Cu bring forthing state, it is assumed that Cu is acquired from Chile, Cobalt, and Nickel from Congo, Gold, plastics and Tin from China, Bauxite from Indonesia etc.

The entire weight of the laptop is 1080g. Solid-state thrust, plastics, and other metals are less than 5 % of the entire laptop weight, therefore these portion are neglected. However, production of metals such as gold and Cu has big impact on the environment, therefore it is necessary to include them in the survey. 425g of aluminium used in the external organic structure of the laptop, which is about 40 % of the entire weight. The battery used in this theoretical account is Lithium-ion polymer, 38 Whr. Figure 2 shows the components/materials of the MacBook Air laptop.

Figure 3 The constituent of the MacBook Air as illustrated from the industry

Electricity Use

It is assumed that laptop is used for 10 hours per twenty-four hours that includes both office usage and personal usage for 5 yearss per hebdomad for 50 hebdomads and sum of 3 old ages ; entire use comes out to be 7500 hours. If the laptop is on standby manner, for 5 hours a twenty-four hours or an norm of 5 yearss per hebdomad and 50 hebdomads and entire 3 old ages, it comes out to be 3750hrs. The remainder of clip is assumed to be switched off. Harmonizing to the merchandise specifications, by Assuming MacBook air uses 230v courser, the ingestion of power is 0.26W during away manner, 0.82W during slumber, 5.6W during idle clip, 0.019W during its usage on Power arranger ( i.e. without utilizing the battery ).

Impact appraisal

Social Impact Assessment

Equally much as any merchandise has impact on environment, it besides has same societal consequence. States like Chile, Congo, and China, Indonesia etc. from where normally natural stuffs are extracted or where goods are manufactured use inhumane and improper societal patterns like kid labor, unjust wage, Discrimination, unhealthy and insecure patterns. Recently, Foxconn, which is company that manufactures merchandises for Apple has been in contention about improper patterns like overtime without wage, child labor.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Overall approx. 320Kg of CO2tantamount C is released during whole life rhythm of laptop. This is whole value consist of C footmark from extraction, fabrication, transit, use and disposal stage.

Figure 4 Entire Product Carbon Footprint in Various part for Laptop


Manufacturing takes up more than half of C footmark in life rhythm of Laptop. Approx. 145 Kg of CO2is released in fabrication of parts of laptop alone and another 5 kilogram that is contributed during assembly stage.


The stuff used for packaging is corrugated composition board that is made from minimal 40 % recycled stuff. The tabular array below explains all the packaging stuff used in retail and transportation.

Figure 5 Packaging for 11 ” MacBook Air

Transportation system

This stage includes all the transit of natural stuffs, manufactured stuffs, and readied merchandises for distribution. This contributes to around 50Kg of CO2in entire.

Figure 6 Carbon footmark of industry and transit stage ( 6 )


This stage is fundamentally user dependant as every user uses the merchandise harmonizing to demands. But on mean laptop is used for about 3-4 hours a twenty-four hours while it is either idle, shutdown. On an mean life of laptop is estimated at 3 old ages sing user besides upgrades laptop due to technological promotions.

Disposal Phase

It is assumed that 75 % of laptop and its parts are recycled and there is no farther loss of stuffs. The staying 25 % laptop that is non recycled green goodss emanations and gases and is coated with unsafe chemicals. These chemicals can impact land or even ground H2O below if chemicals seep. LCA of laptop includes extraction, production, packaging, transit, usage and disposal parts. Out of these classs it is observed that production or fabrication sector has most consequence on environment alternatively of usage or transit classs. Packaging, and disposal have least impact or load on environment.

The use of these laptops besides have major impact. The harmful gases released during production cause ozone depletion, during disposal stage, when parts of these laptops which can non be recycled are disposed in landfills, they cause tellurian acidification and these chemicals seep down to belowground H2O doing freshwater toxicity. Though these factors have important impact, there are other factors that need to be considered.

Climate alteration

The laptop requires electricity for fabrication or running a works and existent use of laptop. For electricity coevals, still coal is used in major states where electronics are manufactured. Burning of coal gives out harmful gases.

Human Toxicity

The production stage of laptop has most impact on human wellness. Motherboards, LCD, battery production uses harmful chemicals like Beryllium, Lead ( used in soldering on circuit boards ) , Mercury or Indium used in production of LCD’s etc. are extremely toxic and carcinogenic.

Metal Depletion

Use of aluminium, gold, Cu, silicon oxide, and other metals for production is another impact.

Figure 7 Consequence of Various manners on Human wellness, Ecosystems and resources


The chief environmental impact is seen from production phase as compared to another of transit, distribution, disposal etc. Transportation so has more consequence than use, and packaging has least consequence. The overall chief impact, starts from natural stuff extraction as fossil fuels like gas, coal etc. are used for excavation, extraction and processing intents. Then production of energy bearers as oil and gas and electricity production etc. linked to transit and use.

Consequences and treatment

The C dioxide emanation was calculated based on the information collected. These consequences were calculated utilizing LCA reckoner. The chief parts of the laptop are LCD screen, Circuit board, external organic structure, Battery, Keyboard and trackpad. The external organic structure of the laptop is made of aluminium, cast metal through a machining procedure. The battery of this merchandise is rechargeable lithium battery.

The keyboard and trackpad is made of ABS plastic. The natural stuffs and constituents shipped to china for fabrication. Boxing stuffs such as boards and documents are besides included. After the concluding merchandise is manufactured and packaged, they send it to USA for storage and so transported to the costumiers around the universe where the merchandise is distributed at that place. The mean electricity consumed by this merchandise is 38 Watts, which harmonizing the specification of the merchandise ; it can be used for 7 hours.

The life span of this merchandise was estimated to be three old ages. The entire merchandise impact during life-time is 393 Kg CO2. This product’s CO2emanations are the equivalent of driving a little household auto a distance of 3,028 Km ( LCA Calculator ) . The major impacts stages in this merchandise are: the usage of the merchandise which produce 151 Kg CO2emanation and industry of the merchandise which produce 186 kilogram of CO2emanation.

In fabrication phase, gold metal is used in this merchandise, which can do major impact on the environment as it produce 132 Kg CO2emanations. The 3rd major impact phase in this analysis is transit which produce sum of 24.6 Kg CO2emanation. Most of the parts used in this merchandise are reclaimable, hence the emanation due to disposal is really low as 0.0449 Kg CO2. These consequences were summarized and plotted at table 1 and figure 8.

Table 2 shows the stuffs and constituents that used in the merchandise and the CO2impact of each 1. Harmonizing to the informations in the tabular array, the major impacts is coming from the gold, circuit board and battery. Table 3 shows the impact of transits of the merchandise. Full elaborate study of the impact of each phase is attached in the appendix.

Table 1 The impact of each phase of the procedure

Phase Entire CO2 ( kilogram ) Percentage
Industry 186.00 47.29
Conveyance 56.30 14.31
Use 151.00 38.39
Disposal 0.05 0.01
Entire 393.35

Figure 8 The entire impact of each phase of the procedure

Table 2 The impact of each portion and constituent of the merchandise

Part name Part entire CO2 ( kilogram ) Material name Material CO2 ( kilogram )
Other Metallic elements 0.173 Tin 0.173
Retail box 0.84 Paperbd. , bleached 0.836
Boxing 0.627 Cardboard, Recycled 0.683
Other metals 0.0402 Copper, Production mix 0.0401
Other metals 132 Gold 132
Keyboard and trackpad 0.452 Acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene 0.452
Battery 8.68 Battery, Li 1.26
External Body 8.52 Aluminum, Cast Alloy 2.78
Circuit Board 28.4 Circuit board ( no constituents ) 25.2
Display 6.07 Backlight, LCD screen, 1.52

Table 3 The impact of the transit

Transport phase name Assembly Mass ( Kg ) Method Distance ( kilometer ) CO2 ( kilogram )
World to China merchandise 2.36 Transoceanic cargo ship 10800 0.274
China to USA Final Assembly 2.36 Air cargo, intercontinental 10800 27.2
USA to World Final Assembly 2.36 Air cargo, intercontinental 10000 25.2
Distribution Final Assembly 2.36 Van & A ; lt ; 3.5t 1000 3.64
Purchase Final Assembly 2.36 Car 10 0.0327


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