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Digitalization and natural resources

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Eerola, T., and P. Eilu. 2021. “Digitalization and Natural Resources.” Open File Research Report 50/2021,. Geological Survey of Finland.

The report focuses on the mineral natural resources needed for digitalization. The use of digital applications and digital devices continues to grow and increasing amounts of information are being converted into a digital format. Prior research on digitalization in the context of sustainability has focused mainly on energy consumption and emissions. However, with the increasing demand for ICT hardware in numerous applications in modern society, the raw materials requirement of digital devices has become a crucial sustainability issue. Therefore, this report delves deeper into the topic of the raw materials consumption of digitalization. We focus on the following challenges and topics:

Sources, production, availability and sustainability of digitalization raw materials

ICT sector’s raw materials consumption, with a specific focus on selected key
end-user devices: smartphones and smart TVs

Key aspects of the ICT value chain

Key ICT consumer and end-user aspects

Possible solutions to support the sustainability of digital devices throughout their life cycle

Key policy aspects and recommendations

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