Increasingly powerful game consoles should not come with ever-increasing energy consumption, particularly when they are performing standard secondary functions such as browsing the internet or playing a video. There is also still much to be done to make these devices easily upgradable, repairable and recyclable, so that they do not just end up adding to Europe’s mountain of toxic electronic waste.

Studies suggest that game consoles consume around 10 TWh/year of electricity in the EU, and the amount is likely to increase with new generations entering the market.

What’s the European Union doing?

The three main global producers, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, joined forces to develop a voluntary initiative, allowing them to escape EU mandatory regulation. This was endorsed by the European Commission in 2015. Coolproducts is, however, concerned about the low level of ambition of this agreement.

The European Commission launched a review study in 2018 to assess the effectiveness of the self-regulatory initiative, and discuss what further improvements could be made to it.

What does the Coolproducts campaign want?

  • A fair broadening of the scope of the initiative, to cover all the new devices that also offer video gaming (e.g. multifunctional media streaming players);

  • A more stringent cap on the electricity consumption of current and future generation consoles, both in gaming mode and secondary functions;

  • Further commitments on resource efficiency, including provisions to increase the repairability and recyclability of consoles, and a strict limitation of the use of toxic chemicals;

  • Better information for consumers, as well as guidance on how to use consoles sustainably. It is currently very difficult for users to access information on the environmental performance of consoles.

Coolproducts technical input and position papers:

2020 – Game Consoles: Reaction to the Approved Voluntary Agreement

2020 – Games Consoles: Position on the Proposed Updated Voluntary Agreement

2018 – Position on Game Consoles Voluntary Agreement proposed update

2017 – NRDC, ECOS, EEB inputs to Steering committee of Game Consoles SRI

2013 – Position on proposed Ecodesign requirements for game consoles

Coolproducts Spanish partner ECODES spell out the problem in this video

Further reading

A report from American NGO N.R.D.C. on the growing demand of consoles

A Greenpeace report on the toxicity of game consoles

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With the support of thr European Union (LIFE Programme and European COmmission). This work reflects the author's views and does not commit donors.