Futureproof Your Business| Part Two: Technology and Planet

In part one of our Futureproofing Your Business series we addressed the role that technology can play in aiding the development of employee and customer relationships for your organization and how this helps your company grow.  

In this second installment, we explore the planet area of your business’s triple bottom line, in relation to technology, to demonstrate why companies need to become more sustainable for a successful future.  

Harnessing sustainable practices with your technology can often feel like trying to jam two opposing magnets together, no matter how hard you try, they simply repel each other.  

And in a lot of cases, this is true. Technology is currently one of the least sustainable industries in the world, contributing to over 4% of our global carbon footprint. Plus, more than 50 million tonnes of e-waste (electronic waste) is sent to landfill every year, making it one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world. 

Your technology, running costs, IT procurement and maintenance, as well as tech disposal, are a major contributing factor behind your organization’s environmental impact. 

As sustainability pressures from government and public opinion grow, businesses are finding their environmental impact under more and more scrutiny. Organizations must adapt to these rising pressures to ensure continued growth and protect business interests; when it comes to your business operations, technology plays a key role in whether your business is sustainable or not. 

Therefore, changing your attitude to, and understanding of, technology to develop more environmentally friendly habits, is crucial if your business is to survive in a world that is becoming increasingly concerned, and rightly so, with sustainability. 

How is the technology that your business relies on becoming an issue that your company must be aware of? Let’s look at the issues driving the change ... 

Public Opinion is driving the demand for Corporate Change and New Legislation. 

It should not be news to hear that our world is in trouble. Temperatures are rising globally; waste is littering our oceans and we are quickly running out of virgin materials needed for manufacturing purposes.  

Because of this, we are seeing a dramatic shift in public perception and practices to fight for a more sustainable future. A recent study conducted by Business Wire, revealed that more than a third of global consumers were willing to pay more for a product or service if it came from a sustainable source. In other words, 85% of consumers have become ‘greener’ with their purchasing habits in recent years. These consumers are not a largely unknown and ambiguous body, these are your customers, and they want to see more being done to help the environment.  

To reflect this growing realization and shift in public perception we are also seeing a major shift in Governmental Sustainability Legislation. Take, for example, the rise of the Right to Repair movement in America and Europe, which is working to create a more circular economy and expand the lifespan of technology. Indeed, the UK brought in its Right to Repair law in July last year. We have also recently seen the Eco design directive for EU companies:  

“The EU's sustainable product policy, Ecodesign legislation and energy labeling are effective tools for improving the energy efficiency and sustainability of products. They help eliminate the least performing products from the market and support industrial competitiveness and innovation by promoting the better environmental performance of products throughout the internal market.” 

With increasing legislation, it is important to do everything in your power now, to make your business as green as possible if you want to avoid what could be very costly legal complications in the future. Your business would not be alone in accelerating your sustainable practices - more than 90% of today’s CEOs say that being sustainable is fundamental for success (source). 

Government legislation and public opinion both have the power to advance or hinder a business' financial future. With current trends pointing towards sustainability as a key concern in both cases, becoming more sustainable as an organization, is slowly but surely becoming essential for future business survival.  

It is becoming clear that adopting a more sustainably aware business model is not only the right thing to do but will be essential to remain competitive and relevant in a society that is becoming increasingly focused on being environmentally friendly. Soon sustainable business operations will no longer be a choice, they will be a legal and cultural necessity!  

Sustainable Technology 

You may, by this point, be wondering how your technology, notoriously known for guzzling energy at a voracious rate (particularly on a large business scale), can help your business become more sustainable. It is not so much what your technology can do to help, but how your technology can transform from being an endless producer of carbon and consumer of energy, into a more environmentally friendly and efficient tool that supports your businesses in the pursuit of sustainability.  

Simply getting rid of technology is not an option due to the fact that it has become a valuable tool to our businesses, as well as in our personal lives. The vast majority, 85%, of all SME owners attribute at least part of their success to technology; it allows companies to prosper, reach a wider audience and operate more effectively. 

But, as we stated at the beginning of this article, sustainability and technology often seem to be mutually exclusive. So, what do we mean when we say sustainable technology?  

Changes to three core habits can make a real difference: the improvement of technology procurement, maintenance and disposal. All three need to be improved and adapted to create a more sustainable model and reduce the impact of your technology on the environment.  

Sustainable Procurement of Technology 

In the same way that your customers are looking to buy from sustainable sources, you should look to do the same when buying your technology. Purchasing from a sustainable source is essential if you want an environmentally friendly IT system.  

When it comes to the procurement of sustainable technology, it is important to consider refurbished devices and infrastructure where possible. Refurbished technology is second-hand equipment that has been professionally data erased and configured to produce a high-quality option for your IT infrastructure 

Refurbished technology can take the form of single components up to full devices or IT systems. When configured by a specialist, refurbished technology can perform as well as new. Some vendors offer a three-year warranty, meaning that you do not have to compromise on performance, nor peace of mind, in order to design a sustainable IT system or entire infrastructure 

In some cases, however, refurbished technology is not a viable option, for example, for the running of newer software and applications that is no longer compatible with earlier server models. We understand it is not always a choice for some organizations, but sustainability in technology procurement can take other forms that may be more appropriate. If buying new, having your IT system fully designed by an IT architect allows you to specify your requirements and have sustainability built into the heart of your technology.  

By purchasing technology as sustainably as possible, you can drastically cut the carbon footprint of your IT infrastructure’s lifecycle. For example, if your company decides to utilize refurbished laptops for your employees, this would cut the carbon production of your IT equipment drastically. Because 85% of a laptop’s carbon footprint is produced in the manufacturing process, by utilizing equipment that has been refurbished, you are reducing the impact of your technology on the environment.  

Maintaining your Technology for a Sustainable IT Infrastructure 

Being sustainable with technology is essentially making the most of what we have rather than following the traditional view of technology that newer is always better. By adopting this mindset, you can implement a sustainable IT strategy that supports your business and protects your future interests.  

Maintaining technology through component level upgrades and repairs is a great way to keep your technology in use for longer and reduce the environmental impact of your IT systems. In general terms, we tend to get rid of our technology devices only halfway through their potential lifespan. For example, most laptops are used, on average, for two to four years when they could be lasting you up to a six to seven with component upgrades over time, rather than entire system replacement!  

If we maintain our technology properly, boost performance where possible and make necessary repairs, we begin utilizing our technology to its fullest and reducing our carbon footprint by buying less (remember that 85% carbon production stat from earlier?).  

Responsible Disposal of Technology 

The truth of the matter is that nothing lasts forever and, no matter what care you may take with your technology, there will come a time to part with your devices. However, being responsible with your used technology is an integral aspect of a sustainable IT model that you should adhere to. 

This does not mean instantly turning towards recycling for the best solution where technology disposal is concerned but making a mindful choice on what is best for your device or system.  

In reality recycling is only capable of extracting 20-35% of a device’s materials on average and it is important to only use recycling as a last resort. Instead, deciding to sell your device for refurbishment or reuse is a better choice to consider for responsible disposal of your technology as it allows for the entire device to remain in use for as long as possible.  

Effective Sell to Us and IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) services are available to provide responsible IT disposal solutions as well as guaranteed data security for your organization’s sensitive information.  

Becoming a Sustainable Business

Techbuyer is a global provider of sustainable IT solutions. It won Sustainable Organisation of the Year at the UK IT Industry Awards in 2021 and Circular Economy Organisation of the Year at the IEMA awards 2020.

In episode two of our podcast series, created in collaboration with the Leader’s Council, our Sustainability Lead and Chartered Environmentalist, Astrid Wynne, talks about what it is to be a sustainable business.

Listen to the full podcast below.Click here to learn more about our new podcast series.

Creating a Sustainable IT Model  

Changing your perception of technology to allow for a sustainable IT model to flourish as part of your business allows you to improve your environmental impact and also protect your business against the future threats and challenges that we expect all businesses will face in the coming years.  

When it comes to futureproofing your business, sustainability is one of the three core areas of your business that need to be supported and adapted to aid future development. We will be examining how attitudes toward, and practices of, IT can be changed to aid business growth for the people and profit areas of your organization in our next installment.  

If you need advice or guidance with creating a more sustainable IT model for your organization, get in touch for more information:  

Responsible and secure disposal: https://www.techbuyer.com/us/itad 

IT Product Lifespan Expansion: https://www.techbuyer.com/us/it-lifecycle-services  

Component Level Upgrades: https://www.techbuyer.com/us/component-upgrades  

Refurbished Technology: https://www.techbuyer.com/us/