Businesses are moving forward towards a better future with the aid of technology. However, it has become more important for tech companies to look beyond purely financial growth to achieve sustainable success by claiming responsibility for the environment.
Development in sustainability & technology hand-in-hand poses a unique challenge as our dependency on technology and electrical devices increases, and the production of e-waste increases, contributing to significant environmental harm damage. They pollute land, water, and air, eventually joining the food cycle to affect the human body.
Hence, “sustainability in technology” has become a burning question for organizations and their leadership. Let’s dive deep into ‘What is sustainability in tech?’ and ‘How can the tech industry drive sustainability?’
What is Sustainability? What are the 3 types of Sustainability?
Sustainability in business is the ability to ensure continuity by conserving resources. A company requires sufficient raw materials (minerals, wood, clean water, etc.) to produce goods and services; otherwise, the company’s revenue will decrease.
In 2014, Unilever declared diminishing revenue due to climate-change-related natural disasters that cost the company approx. USD300 million a year. The only way to stay ahead of the competition is to devise ways to save natural resources and promote sustainability. The three types of sustainability are the following:
Economic Sustainability refers to preserving the renewable and finite natural resources that supply the physical inputs for economic output.
Environmental Sustainability emphasizes preserving the natural resources necessary for economic activity and human survival, such as the soil and atmosphere.
Social Sustainability focuses on the effects of economic systems on people. It encompasses initiatives to end hunger and poverty as well as fight inequality.
Sustainability in the technology industry comprises innovation of sustainable technology or green technology that considers correcting the effects of climate change by using resources properly and promoting social and economic growth. Companies promoting sustainability aim to create products that mitigate environmental risks. Hence, green technology is widely embraced across industries to reduce human impacts on natural resources.
Here are some examples of green technology sustainability projects:
Ocean Energy : Generating zero-emission energy from current, tides, and waves. Underwater buoys use waves to produce tremendous power that can sustain in any weather conditions.
Solar Energy : Companies are innovating different designs for solar panels functional in all weather to generate electricity for domestic use.
Electric Transportation : Electricity powers vehicles such as cars, scooters, and public transport. Devices utilize electromagnetic field broadcast with cables at the vehicle’s base to generate power.
Green architecture : Urban architecture equipped with technology use light for insolation. It uses recycled urban waste in construction materials.
Why is Sustainability important for tech companies?
Sustainability is the need of the hour for all businesses. It helps companies to contribute in two ways:
- Make the world greener and sustainable
- Create an innovative culture, and improve employee engagement, competitive agility, and efficiency
Sustainability in information technology (IT) industry can begin with mindful utilization of its resources and reducing its carbon footprint. For example, according to a survey, 160,000 laptops are discarded every day in the European Union alone, and 70% of them have the potential for reuse. Industry experts and corporate purchasers are slowly recognizing the possibility of prolonging the useable life, particularly for computer equipment. It will reduce waste production and exhaustion of raw materials and diminish energy concerns.
With extensive worldwide influence and positive social effects, tech businesses can set the standard by integrating sustainability into their fundamental values. By doing so, the tech companies can gain a competitive edge in the market by benefitting the environment. Here are some primary reasons why the tech industry must adopt sustainability in technology:
1.Customers Want It Research shows that consumers show a notable shift in their buying habits to purchase products that are better for the environment. The Economist Intelligence Unit reports that searches for sustainable products online have increased globally by 71% in five years. Additionally, Aflac said 77% of customers are likelier to purchase from a business that has made a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment.
2.Attract Big Investors The utilization of renewable resources protects the environment. It also protects your business from the harmful effects of climate change in the long term. It keeps operations going even during a shortage of commonly used resources. Investors are keen on looking at the future of businesses through the lens of sustainability and are interested in your ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) score. The corporate world is now more focused on ESG issues and working towards net-zero carbon goals.
A tech company that amalgamates sustainability & technology becomes a desirable investment. For example, Bill Gates established a billion-dollar fund in 2018 to help start-ups that pledged to fight global warming. The Kolkata Knight Riders invested 1.3 billion US dollars in 2020 for waste management, clean water, and climate change.
3.A Favorable Workplace for Millenials Three out of four millennials want to work for companies with high social and environmental standards. Sustainability has assumed a leading role in employee recruitment and retention. A poll of 2,000 UK workers indicated that 38% of workers would resign if their current employer were not addressing ESG concerns like lowering carbon emissions or doing business ethically. Numerous job searchers judge prospective hires based on their “greenness.” Top talent is readily attracted to and retained by companies that can swiftly bring sustainability in information technology and other departments.
4.Better For Your Budget Sustainability in tech companies means increasing profit by using fewer resources and staying competitive. Efficient usage of resources with sustainable technologies proves better for your company’s budget in the long run. Environment-friendly businesses cut expenses by deploying digital technology with lower power usage, switching to alternative energy sources, and recycling.
For example, Intel was interested in conserving water, but business leaders found there was no justification for doing so since water was cheap. However, the overall cost of water, including infrastructure and treatment, was substantially higher than the initial estimates. Therefore, the initiative advocates argued that conserving water could generate profit in unexpected ways. Thus, Intel moved on with a significant conservation effort.
What can Organizations do to Promote Sustainability?
Organizations benefit immensely from efficient resources, waste, and environmental management. Here are a few ways companies can bring sustainability in technology industry.
Build green products – Tech companies must invest in developing green products that are highly energy-efficient and cost-saving. For example, Samsung released a solar-powered laptop in 2011 that did not require electrical charging. In addition, the company also introduced three “green mobiles” that are free of environmental pollutants.
Promote eco-friendly products in offices – Some strategies you can adopt to go green are replacing pens with bamboo pens, going paperless, replacing plastic cups with earthen or steel mugs, and so on.
Use energy-efficient products – Install light sensors that can automatically turn on and off according to occupancy and vacancy. Building insulation accounts for almost 17% of overall energy expenses. Draught-proofing windows and doorways and insulating radiator pipes can, in addition to false ceilings, minimize energy consumption in buildings with high roofs.
Transportation – also offers several opportunities to increase resource efficiency, especially for people. AstraZeneca, the BioPharmaceutical Company, and Cheshire County Council improved the transit system near its Macclesfield facility by increasing the number of company buses and introducing a car-sharing program. The initiative helped the company to ease the demand for developing car parks.
Encourage employees to follow sustainable practices – Industries must promote sustainability as a culture within their workforce by encouraging employees to initiate or be part of recycling or reusable projects.
For example, Intel has introduced a plastic recycling project – ‘Grave to Cradle’. Under the project, the company employees turned to leftover plastic materials within the office and converted them into pencil boxes, later donated to local schools and charities. Intel even encouraged employees with extra perks based on their environmental performance.
Companies promoting sustainability are increasing globally, not only to gain a competitive edge but also to lead by example. Leading digital companies and many IT companies in the US are taking extraordinary actions by combining sustainability & technology to address climate change.
Hence, tech leaders must find the ambition and determination to make environmentally friendly strategic choices and support sustainable industry reforms.
Justin Keeble, Managing Director of global sustainability for Google Cloud, told Forbes, “If we don’t prioritize sustainability, we soon won’t have a world to operate in. The companies that embrace sustainability as core to their business will be the ones that move ahead.” Environmental concerns have limited the abilities of organizations to add value to clients, partners, and stakeholders in the last ten years. Managing climate-related hazards and bringing sustainability and technology together are connected to the expansion of tech companies.
Houston, Texas-based Techwave is a provider of global digital transformation solutions. Our main objective is to foster innovation in this competitive industry. With our expertise in Enterprise Digital Services, Enterprise Applications, and Engineering, we strive to overcome the challenge of innovating sustainable technology products to combat climate change.
We are committed to fostering a constructive relationship between business and the environment by welcoming sustainability in technology industry because we think they are inextricably intertwined. Techwave takes corporate social responsibility very seriously and considers how our actions impact the environment. Our CSR staff collaborates with local and global organizations to ￼organize events that promote growth and social interaction.