Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play an increasingly important role in society. In the pursuit to address the environmental challenges we are facing, ICT can be analysed from a dual perspective: from one side as crucial in supporting and enabling sustainability strategies, and from the other side, as responsible for environmental impacts related to energy and material use in their lifecycle.
In order to provide a basis for policy-making to improve the sustainability of ICT, the direct and indirect environmental impacts from ICT need to be assessed not just from a device perspective, but considering the overall system, composed by the interactions between users, devices and services, including telecommunication and data processing.
Making a reliable estimate of the energy and material savings potential of ICT is a particularly challenging task due to aspects related to the uncertainty about future market developments, the increased connectivity and multifunctionality of products, the advent of smart appliances and the behavioural changes in our society.
In 2016, the Commission announced, in the context of the Ecodesign Working Plan, a separate strand of work on ICT products in order to determine the best policy approach for improving their energy efficiency and wider circular economy aspects. This Joint Research Centre (JRC) study is supporting this work by providing a comprehensive and dynamic analysis of the ICT sector. This study is being developed for the European Commission's Directorate General for Energy.
Based on material and energy efficiency improvement potentials identified, and considering user behaviour and lifecycle costing aspects, JRC will provide policy recommendations on the inclusion of Ecodesign Criteria. Nevertheless, this study will also explore the suitability of complementary policy tools to improve the sustainability of ICT products and systems.
A key challenge in this context is how product policy instruments, which as a rule need several years to develop regulations for individual products and technologies, can be applied to fast moving technologies with a high turnover of new products entering the market.
Stakeholder involvement is a crucial part of this study. A continuous wide consultation is foreseen with experts and stakeholders of manufacturers, telecommunication operators, service providers, supply chain industry, consumer organizations and NGOs. The evidence base uses available scientific information and data, adopts a life-cycle approach and engages with stakeholders with the view to hold discussions and develop consensus.
If you would like to be involved in the consultation process, you are invited to register as a stakeholder through this website and participate through the online consultation platform BATIS. Once registered, you will be regularly informed about the progress, preliminary findings, consultations and events under this project, you will be able to participate in discussion forums, and also be able to comment on draft documents and respond to questionnaires. For any administrative or other queries, please use the dedicated mailbox.