Environmental cost of ownership rugged vs. consumer devices

Choosing a rugged mobile computer that’s built to last doesn’t only save you money — it also helps reduce harmful electronic waste.

Selecting a mobile computer

There are many criteria to consider when deciding which mobile device to buy. How expensive is it? Does it have the tools and features you need? Will it be reliable for your work? Is it easy to use?

But beyond form and features, another factor is quickly moving up the list of priorities for today’s businesses: Does this choice support our commitment to social responsibility?

The e-waste dilemma

As technology advances, electronic devices are becoming more affordable, and device lifecycles are becoming shorter and shorter. This is due partly to cheaply made equipment that isn’t designed to last more than a couple of years, and partly to consumers’ desire to upgrade technologies as soon as new devices are released. To meet the demand for newer, faster and sleeker, some device companies release upgrades at a frenetic pace.

But frequent device turnover comes at a cost.

People are producing more electronic waste than ever before — and the numbers keep increasing every year. Global e-waste for 2016 amounted to 44.7 million metric tons, equivalent to almost 4,500 Eiffel Towers, according to The Global E-waste Monitor. And despite many manufacturers offering recycling services and incentives, only 20% of global e-waste is documented to be collected and recycled.

Caring for future generations

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is more than a buzzword — it refers to the belief that it is a company’s duty to care for all stakeholders connected to or impacted by its operation.  As the world becomes increasingly connected through technology, more and more companies are recognizing their responsibility to address and rectify the way their use of technology contributes to the problem of global electronic waste.

Emerging technologies have made amazing contributions to our world, allowing increased connectedness, innovation and efficiency. Product and software developers are working on new solutions every day that improve the way people care for the earth and one another. But as we recognize the advantages of our rapidly changing world, it’s also essential to be aware of the problematic aspects of viewing technology as disposable.

Reducing waste by choosing products with longer life expectancy is one very simple way companies can do their part to make sure future generations enjoy the benefits of technology more than they have to contend with its harmful side effects.

Environmental Cost of Ownership

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) refers to the idea that a higher upfront investment in a product that’s built to last actually results in significant cost savings over the product’s lifespan.

We would like to assert that Environmental Cost of Ownership (ECO) is an equally important factor to consider when choosing electronic devices for your company.

The good news is that ECO and TCO work hand in hand: When you choose a rugged mobile computer over a consumer device, you not only save money — you also reduce the amount of e-waste your company produces.

Environmental impact of consumer vs. rugged devices

A VDC Research report found that during the first year of deployment, average failure rates for rugged devices ranged from 4% to 7%, while failure rates for non-rugged devices ranged from 10% to 23%. Additionally, failure rates decreased for rugged devices between VDC’s previous research and the cited study, but increased for non-rugged devices.

Rugged devices fail less often, and therefore are disposed of less often. Choosing rugged handhelds for your team keeps more electronics out of landfills and reduces your company’s environmental impact.

So, how do I choose low-ECO products?

The answers to two main questions can help determine a product’s Environmental Cost of Ownership:

  • The durability question: Will this device break easily under the conditions in which I plan to use it? Is it built to last, or will it need to be replaced within a year or two?
  • The reparability question:If this device does break or experience any issues, can it be easily serviced or fixed?

Handheld devices are built to last

Every mobile device manufactured by Handheld meets high standards for ruggedness. Our customer solutions are excellent examples of how our ultra-rugged computers, tablets and smartphones have proved reliable in a huge variety of work environments.

Our devices are both durable and reparable. They easily last a full 3- to 5-year lifecycle, and some of our customers keep using them for up to 7 years before replacement. They are built from the inside out to withstand repeated drops, water and dust exposure, extreme temperatures and other challenges.

On the rare occasion that a Handheld device has an issue, we’ll have a solution. We carry spare parts longer than non-rugged brands, and we offer extended warranty options for our already long-lasting products to extend their lives even further. Unlike many consumer device companies, we also offer user-replaceable batteries.

The decision to equip your team with rugged mobile computers is a decision made with regard for both the future of your business and the future of the environment. 

No matter which device you choose, please recycle it!

For information about how to responsibly recycle devices at their end of life, visit https://www.consumerreports.org/recycling/how-to-recycle-electronics/