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REEN Law: Mitigating the Environmental Impact of Digital Technologies

Here are the 5 areas of application of the French REEN Law to reduce the impact of digital technologies.

The impact of the REEN law on ETIs and large companies

What is the REEN("Reducing the Environmental Footprint of the Digital Sector") Law ?

Implemented in France in 2021, this law aims to combat the environmental impact of digital technology. In particular, it imposes obligations to reduce the environmental footprint of companies offering digital services in France, including large companies and ETIs (Entreprise de taille intermédiaire)  

The obligations of large companies and ETIs

Large and mid-sized companies are subject to more stringent obligations when it comes to reducing their environmental footprint. They must measure their environmental footprint every year, and implement actions to reduce it. This environmental footprint includes the energy consumption of digital equipment, the impact of data centers, electronic waste management, etc. 

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Improving the digital footprint with the REEN Act

The REEN law is designed above all to have a positive impact on the digital footprint of large companies and ETIs. It encourages them to adopt eco-friendly practices by reducing their energy consumption and promoting the use of greener equipment.  

There are many ways for companies to take action, starting with the use of digital tools to measure and optimize their energy consumption. Indeed, monitoring tools can be used to track the energy consumption of digital equipment and identify the most energy-hungry devices. Virtualization tools can be used to consolidate servers and reduce the number of physical machines required. In this way, they can save energy while optimizing their digital performance.  

Companies have every interest in taking action to reduce their environmental footprint: it can generate significant economic and environmental benefits. By reducing their energy consumption, they can cut their electricity bills and reduce their carbon footprint. What's more, by adopting more ecofriendly equipment and optimizing their energy consumption, they can improve their brand image and appeal to their customers and partners. In short, it's a win-win situation! 

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Five fields of action have thus been defined :

1. Raising awareness 📢

This core action involves raising awareness of the environmental impact of digital technology among a wide audience.  

This field of action includes education, by raising awareness of the environmental impact of digital tools from the earliest age (schools, middle schools and high schools are concerned.) Courses dedicated to eco-design will also be taught in computer engineering schools.  

To raise awareness of the environmental impact of digital technology, an "observatory on the environmental impact of digital technology" has been set up. It is placed under the auspices of ADEME and ARCEP. This observatory "analyzes and quantifies the direct and indirect impacts of digital technology on the environment".   

2. Limiting terminal renewal ♻️

The production of terminals in France alone accounts for 70% of the environmental impact of the digital sector. The REEN law aims to combat programmed obsolescence and software obsolescence, in particular by providing consumers with certain information on device updates. 

3. Promoting environmentally-friendly digital uses 🌱

In order to set the criteria for ecologically sustainable digital uses, a general eco-design reference framework for digital services will be published in 2024.  

It should be noted that another standard was published on November 29, the RGESN, accompanied by NumEcoDiag, a new digital impact analysis tool. This reference framework was drawn up independently, and not as an application of this law.  

4. Promoting energy-efficient datacenters and networks🗄️

Although datacenters are already subject to certain environmental restrictions, the Reen law provides for these conditions to be tightened. Compliance with these stricter rules will enable datacenters to benefit from a reduction in the domestic tax on final electricity consumption. In other words, good environmental management will be rewarded!  

At the same time, electronic communications operators will be required to publish key indicators highlighting their commitment to the ecological transition.  

5. Implementing a responsible digital strategy in territories 🏙️

The final part of the law focuses on local authorities: they will be required to draw up a responsible digital strategy as soon as they have more than 50,000 inhabitants, and this will start in 2025. Some local authorities, such as the La Rochelle conurbation, have already begun work on this issue. In partnership with Suez and Digital4Better, the La Rochelle conurbation has analyzed its digital impact on the environment, an initiative that deserves to be recognized. 

The limits of the law


Although it had been included in the proposed law, the extension of the warranty on digital equipment from two to five years was not retained. The same applies to the requirement for manufacturers to differentiate between "comfort" and "security" system updates.  

At the same time, although a "green tax" was to have benefited refurbished products, enabling them to benefit from a reduced VAT rate of 5.5%, it was ultimately not adopted by Parliament. What's more, the refurbished sector is no longer entitled to the exemption for private copy levies that it enjoyed until now. As a result, consumers who prefer to buy second-hand products will have to pay an additional tax of 10 euros on their purchases. 

In conclusion

  It has to be said that the Reen law could have been more ambitious and binding than it is today. Some of the proposed measures were not adopted, which could have strengthened the final decisions. However, it is important to emphasize that this law is **innovative** and a **forerunner in this field**. 

The implementation of this law encourages companies to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices and use digital tools to improve their energy performance.  

By using innovative solutions such as fruggr, companies can go even further in measuring and optimizing their data consumption to reduce their overall environmental impact. It is therefore essential for companies to adapt to the requirements of the REEN law and continue to reduce their environmental footprint, using effective digital tools such as fruggr.

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