The PlayStation4 is designed by Sony to be the ultimate gaming console of the current generation. The build is sturdy, jet black and it looks almost aggressive, but looks might be deceiving for the untrained eye. The design is minimalist, the only buttons available are power and disk eject buttons and the vast majority of the console’s components are invisible, almost as if Sony purposefully made the system to reek of mystery and awe.
The PS4 shares many traits with its grandfather, the PS2, which provoked similar emotions back in its prime years. The last iteration of the PS2 was extremely slim and light, almost as if it was meant to take weight reduction and efficiency to a whole new level, never seen before in the industry. The PS4 Slim was also built with efficiency in mind, but its specific high power requirements and advanced technology simply makes it a lot bigger than its ancestor. More mass means more materials, which consist of matter taken from Earth’s resources.
The climate crisis is reaching critical levels. Public awareness and implication is continuously on the rise, and this is beginning to take its toll on the video game industry too.
Recently, Sony joined the United Nations – powered initiative named “Playing for the Planet”, which, alongside the “Road to Zero” initiative is oriented towards achieving “a zero environmental footprint by the year 2050”, consisting of goals to diminish climate change, preserve resources and amplify biodiversity.
Here is how the components of a Sony PlayStation 4 affect the environment:
The outer box, full of flashy images, marketing copy and tightly packed small prints is a bit difficult to remove because the external layer is intensely processed, meaning that it has a high carbon and environmental footprint. However, the plastic is recyclable (but many times users simply throw their old systems in the trash can, without thinking about recycling).
After the plastic packaging is removed, some cardboard can be observed (probably protective), and underneath it, a molded card that holds the PS4 steadily in place can be seen. Those materials could also see a new life by being reprocessed or repurposed correctly.
The top lid of a PS4 comes off easily. The outer layer of the console is made out of plastic (which, of course, can be recycled as well). ABS plastic is used, being a cheap, reliable and sturdy solution for such applications. Thankfully, ABS plastic is a kind of plastic that tends to be recycled rather than wasted (unlike other plastic variations).
Sony aims to reduce virgin plastic usage by about 10% in the following year, which might seem like a small percentage, but given the fact that Sony gaming consoles are sold in amounts of millions, the reduction will definitely lessen the carbon footprint provoked by Sony’s industrial activity.
Officially, the complete production of a PS4 outputs about 1.6 kilograms of CO2 equivalent into Earth’s atmosphere, because of heavy use of petrochemicals.
A Sony PS4 console contains about 736 grams of steel. However, steel is recycled worldwide (about 70 to 90 % of the whole quantity). This is called “genuine recycling”. Unfortunately, steel is on demand at the moment. Unfortunately, China, the country where the PS4 is produced uses steel made out of only about 20% recycled steel, the rest consisting of metal alloy from ore.
As you can see, plastic isn’t necessarily the problem. The true problem is the inefficiency of the recycling process, and the lack of recycling-aimed laws only makes it worse.
Big companies should make a collective effort to diminish their impact on the environment for a safer and healthier future. Sony’s initiative is a very good starting point and it might spark a trend in the industry, which would be extremely admirable.