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IT departments need holistic circular economies to fight climate change

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IT departments need holistic circular economies to fight climate change

With sustainability moving up the boardroom agenda, IT managers should revamp procurement strategies to align with the principles of the circular economy, but what does this mean for managing the IT lifecycle?

Sebastian  Klovig Skelton

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Published: 06 Jun 2022

Enterprises must build holistic circular economies around their operations to address every source of emissions and waste if the IT sector is to tackle its mounting contribution to ecological collapse.

An April 2022 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that to meet the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting climate increases to 1.5°C, emissions need to be reduced by 43% before 2030.

While many companies are busy working up net-zero strategies – with varying degrees of sincerity and effectiveness – to deal with the climate crisis, PwC’s 2022 CEO Survey says achieving the reality of net zero “will be exceedingly difficult for some companies and industries”.

It also noted that the most “upbeat of all CEOs” were those of private equity firms and technology companies, which “continue to benefit from large inflows of capital thanks to the favourable financial conditions prevailing in most advanced economies”.

Despite their optimism and the vast scale of their resources, however, the global volume of electronic waste (e-waste) is forecast to reach 74 metric tonnes by 2030, with only 17% of that being recycled. By 2040, the IT sector is also expected to account for 14% of global emissions, despite only accounting for 2-4% currently.

To learn how the sector can build circular economies that deal with every aspect of an IT estate’s lifecycle, and how it can kick its increasingly wasteful habits, Computer Weekly sought input from a range of organisations involved in IT sustainability.

First steps

The starting point in driving circularity in an enterprise’s operations is – according to Praveen Shankar, Ernst & Young’s UK & Ireland managing partner for technology, media and telecoms – visibility and measurement.

“Corporate devices such as laptops and mobile phones are typically well tracked, but organisations tend to have less visibility around complex equipment deployment such as servers, network equipment, or even elements of a datacentre,” said Shankar in a recent Computer Weekly article.

“Organisations should start by putting measurement in place and identifying gaps in capabilities such as inventory and asset management, to drive efficiencies through repair, refurbishment and reuse, across the business.”

He added that measurement will allow identification of what actions need to be taken, which procurement staff can then use to put plans in place to improve outcomes.

Craig Melson, associate director for climate, environment and sustainability at trade association TechUK, agrees that getting data on the percentage of IT assets going to landfill, as well as the percentage being refurbished and/or reused, is essential, adding that buying refurbished equipment is a good place to start as it has a lower carbon footprint.

For Katy Medlock, UK general manager at refurbished consumer electronics marketplace Back Market, extending the lifespan of devices is the first and easiest step companies can take to address their hardware consumption.

“The longer a device lasts, the longer until a new one is needed. Improving devices’ lifespan can be as simple as providing employees with protective cases and bags,” she says. “A simple and cheap case will reduce the chances of breakage, removing the hassle and cost of paying for screen repairs or even new devices. Second-hand products, that have been checked by experts, in good condition can further reduce the cost.”

Medlock adds that while this and other steps – such as providing employees with repair and care tutorials – can prolong hardware lifespan, devices will never last forever. Once equipment reaches the end of its “first life”, Medlock also suggests selling it on to facilitate the circular economy.

“The longer a device lasts, the longer until a new one is needed. Improving devices’ lifespan can be as simple as providing employees with protective cases and bags”
Katy Medlock, Back Market

“While selling old devices once proved a potential security risk, the mass adoption of cloud storage has reduced it to a much smaller problem. Companies can now easily hand over devices without the risk of locally stored data falling into the wrong hands,” she says.

“Refurbished device vendors will often offer cash-in-hand for used devices. Many network providers also offer buy-back programmes where the value can be used as a discount for the next purchase.”

However, if a company is unable to sell on a piece of hardware for reuse, she says it must be properly recycled.

Melson adds the caveat that while many business buyers express concern about the data on devices, “this is not a valid concern as there are very robust processes now for effective data wiping for used tech”.

Speaking in the context of datacentre operators, Jay Dietrich, a research director on sustainability at the Uptime Institute, agrees with Shankar that enterprises should report metrics and set goals for the reuse and recycling of end-of-life products and components.

“To validate this, datacentre operators must maintain an inventory of end-of-life products sent to their product recyclers/reclaimers. Operators should also verify that recyclers/reclaimers track the ultimate disposition of refurbished products and components,” he says, adding due diligence is vital to verifying that the chosen recyclers manage the materials and products as promised, and that the equipment does not end up in landfill when it can be reused instead.

Encompassing the entire value and supply chain

Shankar warns, however, that for these processes to be effective, they must be done “across the organisation” and not in departmental silos. “Enabling true circularity requires going beyond the organisation to work with suppliers and customers, across the full end-to-end value chain,” he adds.

Iggy Bassi, founder and CEO of “climate intelligence” company Cervest, says that while building circularity into business models is “undeniably important” when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and the unsustainable consumption of raw materials, “adapting supply chains and procurement processes to cope with the uncertainties of our future climate must be a parallel consideration”.

He adds that an open approach to climate intelligence is vital, as it allows all parties involved in the supply or value chain to communicate over, and take responsibility of, their shared assets.

“While assets are owned, the risk on those assets is shared by all parties that rely on them for business continuity,” he says. “Cervest is already seeing organisations feeding climate intelligence into their supplier selection and renewal processes. The benefits are two-fold: enterprises are better prepared for climate change, and suppliers are incentivised to make their own operations more resilient.”

According to Dietrich, an oft-overlooked aspect of datacentre circularity is the reuse of recovered waste heat from cooling systems.

“Heat reuse is categorised as a circularity topic, as heat generated in the operation of the datacentre can be captured and put to a beneficial use heating other facilities – offices, swimming pools and greenhouses, for example – or providing heat to a district heating system,” he says.

While Dietrich’s point is specifically about waste heat in datacentres, Melson adds that enterprises generally should make an assessment of the energy performance of respective IT gear, factoring in emissions and waste throughout the entire lifecycle of equipment.

“Ensuring effective value chain due diligence should encompass IT use and disposal,” he says. “If products are being defined as e-waste, take a deep interest in how IT is treated and disposed of, as there are numerous environmental and human rights risks in the waste sector.”

Melson further adds that setting circular economy targets in requests for proposal (RFPs) during the procurement process “is also a good way to drive supplier engagement” further down the chain.

To start with, then, organisations must gain an understanding of their current IT estates and circular processes through measurement and tracking, which can inform more targeted action going forward.

From here, they should take steps to extend equipment life for as long as possible, before having further processes in place to either recycle or reuse it. All of this needs to be underpinned by extensive due diligence on suppliers and their respective processes, which will give enterprises confidence that equipment will be properly dealt with.

“In this way, organisations can work in tandem with their ecosystem players, such as suppliers and customers, to make a tangible impact through circularity,” says Shankar.





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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance

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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance
Four people in a meeting room video conferencing with four remote participants.



(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the most irritating (and slightly painful) parts of joining a Microsoft Teams call could soon be fixed by a new update.

The video conferencing service is a popular choice for many companies, meaning calls with large numbers of participants joining at the same time, and from the same location (such as a meeting room) are a common occurrence. 

However, often when multiple people join a meeting in the same room, a feedback loop is created, which causes echo, which in most cases quickly escalates to howling – with Microsoft likening the noise to when a musician holds the mic too close to a loudspeaker.

Teams’ howling

Fortunately, a new fix is coming for Microsoft Teams users. In its entry in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap (opens in new tab), the new “Ultrasound Howling Detection” describes how it aims to prevent this noise for users on Windows and Mac across the world.

Microsoft says that the update should mean if multiple users on laptops join from the same location, it will share with the user that another Teams Device is detected in their vicinity and is already joined with audio to the current meeting. 

If a user has already joined with their audio on, Microsoft Teams will automatically mute the mic and speakers of any new the person who then joins the call, hopefully putting an end to the howling and screeching feedback.

Thankfully, the update is already listed as being in development, with an expected general availability date of March 2023, so users shouldn’t have to wait too long to enjoy.

The news follows a number of recent updates largely aimed around improving the audio quality on Microsoft Teams calls using AI and machine learning.

The new updates are the result of using a machine learning model trained on 30,000 hours of speech samples, and include echo cancellation, better adjusting audio in poor acoustic environments, and allowing users to speak and hear at the same time without interruptions.

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Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK’s leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he’s not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed
Shazam points at someone off camera in Shazam! Fury of the Gods



Shazam! Fury of the Gods lands in theaters on March 17.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The final trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods has debuted online – and it looks even more charming, funnier, frenetic, and darker than its predecessor.

Shazam’s sequel flick arrives in theaters worldwide on March 17, so it’s about time we were given another look at the forthcoming DC Extended Universe movie (read our DC movies in order guide to find out where it’ll fit in that timeline). Luckily, Warner Bros. has duly obliged. Check it out below:

Okay, there’s some messy CGI and a slightly corny vibe about Shazam 2. But hey, the first problem can be ironed out before the superhero film takes flight, while the latter is part of what makes this movie series spellbinding (see what we did there?).

But we digress – you’re here because you want to find out what you missed from Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ new trailer. Below, we’ve pointed out six things you might have overlooked. So, what are you waiting for? Shout “Shazam!” and let’s dive in.

1. Who are the Daughters of Atlas?

Kalypso hands Hespera the wizard's staff in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

New movie, new villains. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

For a film centered around Shazam, we don’t actually see the titular superhero appear in the official trailer for the first 20 seconds.

Instead, we get another glimpse at Fury of the Gods‘ villains, aka the Daughters of Atlas. The powerful trio comprises the power-hungry Hespera (Helen Millen), dragon-riding Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Athena (Rachel Zegler), the latter of whom seems particularly torn about how the sisters are going about their business.

So, why are they gunning for Shazam and his superpowered foster siblings? Essentially, when Billy Batson was gifted his abilities by Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the film film (available now on HBO Max), one of those powers was the Stamina of Atlas. The Daughters of Atlas aren’t too happy about their father’s ability being passed down to a child, so they want to take back what is theirs – and they’ll do it so by any means necessary.

2. Mythological monsters

A dragon prepares to breathe fire at one of Shazam's fellow heroes in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam isn’t the only person taking flight in Fury of the Gods. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam’s first DCEU outing featured some horror-imbued creatures in the form of the Seven Deadly Sins. How, then, do you go about topping (or, at the very least) matching what came before? Throw in a bunch of myth-based monsters, of course.

Kalypso’s imposing dragon is the most notable inclusion. It feature prominently throughout the trailer, and we even get an amusing Game of Thrones reference from Shazam – “Hey, Khaleesi!” – in the movie. Hey, Warner Bros. loves to mention its suite of IPs in as many of its films as possible.

But Kalypso’s wyvern isn’t the only fairy-tale-based beast we see. Minotaurs, griffons, and demonic unicorns are just three of the other monsters who’ll turn up in Fury of the Gods. Basically, don’t expect this to be an easy fight for Shazam and company to save the world.

3. You can’t get the staff these days

Hespera uses the wizard's staff as Kalypso looks on in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

“So I just point it and then what?” (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Saving earth from a new titanic threat will be even harder when Shazam’s adoptive family are stripped of their powers, too. And it seems that the staff, which was wielded by Hounsou’s wizard in the first movie, is the key to giving and taking those abilities away.

In 2019’s Shazam!, the titular hero gave powers to his foster siblings to help him combat the Seven Deadly Sins and Doctor Sivana. They’ve still got those power in Fury of the Gods, too, but they won’t have them for long, based by what the trailer suggests.

The footage shows Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield being drained of their abilities by the Daughters of Atlas at various points. The trio are using the wizard’s staff to rob the teens of their powers, so it’s clearly of major importance to the movie’s main players. 

Later, we see Shazam wielding it – not before he asks the wizard to take his powers back, mind you, when he becomes convinced he can’t defeat the Daughters of Atlas. Anyway, Shazam’s brandishing of the staff suggests he needs it to boost his own abilities if he’s going to defeat the movie’s antagonists and give his siblings their powers back. Expect the staff to play a vital role in Fury of the Gods‘ plot, then.

4. Prison break

Djimon Hounsou's wizard blows som magic dust out of a prison window in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Time to break out, Mr. Wizard. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

In order to get the wizard’s staff, it seems the Daughters of Atlas go after Hounsou’s magic wielder to obtain it.

We see Hounsou’s character imprisoned at various points, including a shot of Hespera chastising him for giving the power of the gods to Billy, Freddy, and company. “You ripped it from our father’s core,” she tells him, which implies Hounsou’s wizard might not be as mighty and heroic as we were led to believe.

Anyway, Hounsou’s wizard interacts with Shazam later in the trailer, so he clearly escapes captivity. Whether he does so alone, or he enlists Shazam’s help – does that magic-infused dust, which he sends through his prison cell window, have something to do with it? – is unclear. Regardless, we’ll see Hounsou’s character break out at some stage.

5. Is that you, Doctor Strange?

Shazam flies past some rotating buildings in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Where have we seen this kind of aesthetic before? (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Remember when we said Zegler’s Athena doesn’t seem as keen to destroy earth as her sisters? That’s because, at the 1: 14 mark, we see her use her powers with a uncertain look on her face. You wouldn’t look like that if you were convinced you were doing the right thing, would you? 

Based on the fact she’s pushed away by Kalypso (using the staff no less), seconds later, it seems she’ll be swapping sides at some stage.

Interestingly, it seems the wizard’s staff can do more than give or take a person’s powers away. One perceived ability certainly has an air of the Doctor Strange/Marvel-based mystic arts about them. Just look at the Escher-style nature of how the scenery bends and folds in on itself when Athena is pushed back, and when Shazam evades numerous buildings at the 1: 44 mark. We’d be very surprised if DC and Warner Bros. didn’t take a leaf out of the MCU’s book with such an aesthetic.

6. Light the way

Shazam prepares to fight Kalypso and her dragon in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

A yellow bolt out of the blue. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam and his fellow superheroes get a costume upgrade in Fury of the Gods. The group’s threads are more streamlined and less plastic-looking this time around, which is pleasing to see.

Fans had been worried, though, that these suits wouldn’t feature one of the first movie’s most underrated (if somewhat tacky) aspects: the glowing lightning bolt on Shazam’s chest. Shazam’s costume in the 2019 movie was manufactured in a way that allowed the bolt to physically light up, avoiding the problem of having to add awkward lighting effects during the post-production phase.

Thankfully, Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ official trailer confirms that Shazam’s lightning bolt will glow. However, given the sleeker look of the costumes this time around, it appears that the illumination effect has been added in post. Regardless of how it’s been implemented, we’re just glad it’s a feature that’s been retained.

For more DCEU-based coverage, find out where we placed 2019’s Shazam! in our DC movies ranked article. Additionally, read up on the best superhero films of all-time or check out how to watch the Batman movies in order.

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As TechRadar’s entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You’ll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot (opens in new tab).

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

Chrome logo on a phone with a lock image over it

Image: Deepanker Verma / Pexels


Author: Alaina Yee
, Senior Editor

Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.

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