Increasingly powerful games consoles should not come with ever-increasing energy consumption, particularly when they are performing secondary functions such as connecting to the internet or playing a DVD. These devices are not easily upgradable or repairable and usually end up adding to Europe's mountain of toxic electronic waste.
Despite efforts from some manufacturers to integrate technologies that optimise energy use, the electricity consumed by games consoles in Europe could grow 50% by 2020, if no action is taken. Games consoles alone would then consume as much as the entire residential electricity consumption of Denmark.
What’s the European Union doing?
The three main global producers, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, together developed a self regulated initiative in order to escape mandatory regulation. This was presented to stakeholders in November 2012 and again without significant modifications in June 2014. Coolproducts is concerned about the poor level of ambition of this agreement; it seems to retroactively justify changes that have already been implemented for game consoles in the last couple years without creating any challenges for future generations of consoles. However, the agreement should now be aligned with European Commission guidelines on voluntary agreements that will be made official in Autumn 2014, which require more evidence concerning the added value of voluntary agreements compared to regulations.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
- A cap on the electricity consumption of games consoles, both in the short-term for existing models and the longer-term for future generations of consoles. The cap should at least cover connected standby, media play, idle and menu navigation modes, all of which are secondary to the gaming mode.
- A mandatory auto-power-down feature on all consoles, putting the product into standby after a user latency period. It should be designed to allow the games to be saved and restored within a few seconds to avoid disabling this auto-power-down option.
- Commitments on resource efficiency, including provisions to increase the disassembly and recyclability of consoles, including a limitation of the use of toxic chemicals.
- Better information for consumers and guidance on how to use consoles sustainably. It is very difficult to know the environmental performance of consoles.
Coolproducts' technical input and position papers are availble below
Coolproducts Spanish partner ECODES spell out the problem in this video