Where does your hard disk come from?

Does “Made in ….” really mean anything anymore? If you are a Champagne producer, the answer would probably still be “yes” and one could argue that in this case origin and brand carry a lot of meaning too for consumers.

But what about a hard disk or for that matter any component of a computer? The answer would probably be “no”. In fact, that’s a good thing since determining where a product comes from is increasingly difficulty when components criss-cross the world to be used as inputs in “moving” assembly plants.

But who cares if a hard disk and its parts comes from Vietnam, South China, Malaysia or Japan… Well, we should, since moving around of all these parts carries an important environmental cost – economists would speak about negative externalities. Hopefully, one day product traceability will allow us to put a price on the environmental cost of these sophisticated supply chains and make informed and sensible purchasing decisions.

Supply chain for a hard disk assembled in Thailand: components are sourced from no less than 11 countries

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Source: Baldwin R. and Evenett S. (2009) The collapse of global trade, murky protectionism, and the crisis: Recommendations for the G20