The Carbon Footprints of Sony and Dell

(Part 2)

 

According to Greenpeace International’s article, ‘Guide to Greener Electronics’, both Sony and Dell are among the most eco-friendly consumer electronics companies. On the scale provided by Greenpeace, Sony received a rating of 5.1 out of 10 (second place) and Dell received a rating of 4.5 out of 10 (fifth place). Furthermore, data concerning greenhouse gas emissions for both companies is relatively accessible. In addition, while Sony is a worldwide corporation based in Tokyo Japan, Dell, Inc. is a worldwide company based in Round Rock, Texas. Therefore, an interesting comparison between the two companies could be made because of the closeness of the scores they received by ‘Guide to Greener Electronics’, the fact that Sony is based in Japan and Dell is based in the United States, and the availability of data.

 

Scientific Theory
What is a Carbon Footprint?

 

As discussed earlier, a “carbon footprint” unit is expressed as grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour or generation (gCO2eq/kWh). For the purposes of this webpage, grams of CO2 equivalent will be replaced with tons of CO2 equivalent. CO2 equivalent means that all other greenhouse gases that are not carbon dioxide are converted to carbon dioxide by multiplying it by a factor. Carbon footprints are an easy and common way to quantify greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, the carbon footprints of Sony Corporation and Dell, Inc. on a global level are measured in tons of CO2 equivalent.

 

Conversions and Calculations

 

The calculations used to determine the carbon footprints of Sony and Dell were minor and uncomplicated. The data compiled was mainly based on an average of a 7 year period starting in 2000 and ending in 2006. In some cases, a conversion from pounds to tons or metric tons to tons was necessary. Also, it was vital to know the amount of CO2 produced to support one kilowatt hour of electricity generated by the burning of coal. This was important because coal is the most abundant nonrenewable resource on the Earth, and thus is exploited greatly for the production of electricity. The amount of CO2 produced for one kilowatt hour is approximately 1,000 grams, or 1 kilogram. This roughly translates to 1.10×10^-3 tons of CO2 per kilowatt hour. However, the methods at which Sony and Dell calculated data on their greenhouse emissions were much more complicated.

Sony Corporation uses methods of collecting data that takes into account several different stages of CO2 emissions. For calculating CO2 emissions at Sony factories, the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 equivalent is taken and added to CO2 emissions from product use and transportation, and finally an amount is subtracted by greenhouse gas reduction activities. For actual product usage, Sony multiplies the electrical power used throughout the product’s lifetime by a standardized CO2 conversion rate.

Dell, Inc. also uses methods that take into account several different stages of CO2 emissions. Dell calculates its power consumption by multiplying that maximum amount of watts used and the amount of time that power is at maximum, added to the minimum amount of watts used multiplied by the amount of time power is at a minimum, and finally added to the product of the amount of watts consumed when the device is off and the amount of time in which the device is off. For transportation, Dell, Inc. tracks the amount of fuel burned for air and ground freight transportation, and thus calculates the amount of CO2 equivalent given off due to logistics.

 

Data
Sony’s Carbon Footprint

 

Sony Corporation has a large carbon footprint because of the amount of greenhouse gases contributed due to production sites, transportation, production, and the use of energy to run those products. In order to collect data on the carbon footprint of Sony, we took the sum of the total greenhouse gas emissions from logistics and site emissions in CO2 equivalent from the years 2000 to 2006. Then, we took the sum of the total greenhouse gas emissions from usage of consumer electronics products in CO2 from the years 2000 to 2006, and found the average. Finally, we took the sum of those two numbers to find the average annual carbon footprint of Sony Corporation. Below are the calculations we did.

2,183,765 + 2,092,375 + 2,099,213 + 2,113,577 + 2,145,406 + 2,180,244 + 2,028,096 = 14,842,676 total emissions from sites in CO2 equivalent tons

14,842,676 / 7 = 2,120,382.29 average emissions from sites in CO2 equivalent tons

5,772,350 + 15,093,758 + 15,300,489 + 15,110,014 + 16,483,902 + 15,323,383 + 17,834,405 = 100,918,301 total emissions from product usage in CO2 equivalent tons

100,918,301 / 7 = 14,416,900.1 average emissions from product usage in CO2 equivalent tons

2,120,382.29 + 14,416,900.1 = 16,537,282.4 total annual carbon footprint of Sony Corporation in CO2 equivalent tons

Dell’s Carbon Footprint
Dell, Inc. has a smaller carbon footprint because the amount of data available on the different processes that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions is less than Sony Corporation. The carbon footprint of Dell, Inc. is based solely on the CO2 emissions of Dell Notebooks and Dell Optiplex’s. In order to calculate the carbon footprint of Dell, Inc., we added the annual CO2 emissions of Dell Notebooks and Dell Optiplex’s found off of Dell’s 2006 Sustainability Report. This may or may not have had logistics, site emissions, and other factors calculated into it. Thus, while it is not a completely accurate display of Dell’s carbon footprint, it does provide some insight on what the actual total carbon footprint would be.

approx. 1,000,000 + approx. 3,000,000 = approx. 4,000,000 total emissions of Dell Notebooks and Dell Optiplex’s of Dell, Inc. in CO2 equivalent tons

 

Dell Optiplex Dell Notebook
Comparing the Two Companies

 

Statistically, the “carbon footprints” of these two companies cannot be compared because Dell, Inc. only provided data for a few products rather than its entire incorporation as a whole. However, we can take the total emissions of Dell Notebooks and Dell Optiplex’s in CO2 equivalent tons and compare it roughly to the average CO2 tons equivalent emissions of Sony’s Information Technology and Professional Use product usage, assuming that these emissions are produced only by Sony computers. First, we added the IT and Professional Use emissions of each year from years 2000 to 2006. Then, we took the sum of all of these totals and took the average. The obtained number is the average that we can use to compare with the emissions of Dell Notebook and Dell Optiplex.

1,076,746 + 1,003,797 + 681,222 + 639,536 + 672,921 + 725,646 + 1,443,230 = 6,243,098 total emissions of Sony’s IT and Professional Use in CO2 equivalent tons

6,243,098 / 7 = 891,871.143 average emissions of Sony from IT and Professional Use in CO2 equivalent tons

The difference in tons of CO2 equivalent between Sony and Dell is large, and thus presents the large inaccuracy of this calculation. Therefore, the carbon footprints of Sony Corporation and Dell, Inc. cannot be accurately compared. However, the data does accurately show the carbon footprint of Sony, and it provides data on the CO2 emissions of Dell Notebooks and Dell Optiplex’s.

 

 

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