Achieving sustainability goals requires fully committing to sustainable processes from all areas of your organisation. Technology and innovation can be crucial in achieving these goals and meeting ESG criteria.
This blog post will discuss digital sustainability and the processes your company can implement to improve its carbon footprint when using technology.
- What is Digital Sustainability?
- Examples of Digital Sustainability
- Which Processes Have an Impact on Digital Sustainability
- How Organisations Can Accelerate Their Sustainability Strategies
What Is Digital Sustainability?
Digital sustainability involves using technology to address climate issues and improve ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) outcomes. This can play an essential role in tackling climate change, a term gaining traction worldwide.
Businesses with digital sustainability as a goal can use forecasting models to measure the potential gains of the company against the impact this may have on the environment.
There's attention towards the rising population and the increasing demand for technology; digital sustainability allows companies to use technology that protects the environment and preserves business success.
Examples of Digital Sustainability
You can find many sustainability practices in various industries. A widespread example is the emergence of remote working — organisations have moved away from office-based work and in-person meetings, reducing commute emissions and environmental impact.
Some other examples of digital sustainability efforts include:
- Smart electrical grids to control and reduce overall energy use in a specific area
- Enhanced traffic systems to reduce fossil fuel use
- Intelligent recycling processes to reduce landfill waste and increase product reuse
Research shows that 67% of respondents either strongly agree or agree that digital transformation will help organisations implement sustainability transformation effectively, like the examples seen above. So, which technologies have an impact on sustainability?
Which Processes Have an Impact on Digital Sustainability?
Awareness of which technologies impact your company’s carbon footprint is the best place to start when looking to improve your digital sustainability.
Data centres are large facilities where data are stored and often have high energy output. In the digital shift, they’re increasingly common and already account for 1% of the entire planet’s electricity demand.
Although the number of data centres is expected to grow over time, there are actions your company can take to implement alternative and more sustainable technologies.
E-waste refers to outdated devices disposed of when an organisation upgrades its technology. This can include computers, laptops and mobile phones.
Old devices can often end up in landfill and are more harmful than other kinds of waste due to the toxic chemicals they contain.
To reduce e-waste and succeed in becoming more sustainable, it’s important to recycle your old devices and avoid buying new technology unnecessarily.
Using the internet uses a lot of energy. Internet users generate roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, contributing significantly to carbon footprints for businesses and individuals.
Some changes you can implement to reduce the amount of energy your business uses on the internet could be requesting audio calls instead of video calls or streaming videos at a lower resolution.
How Organisations Can Accelerate Their Sustainability Strategies
Sustainability is a core goal of many organisations. In this global survey, 41% of company leaders in nine countries cited sustainability as a top three management priority. There are several processes organisations can adopt to meet digital sustainability goals. They include:
AI and Advanced Analytics
AI and analytics tools can generate insights into the environmental impact that a product or service has. These digital systems can share data and create accountability within a company.
Organisations that utilise these systems effectively use data to improve performance over time, optimising energy efficiency, reducing emissions and saving money simultaneously.
Adopting cloud technology can positively impact an organisation's digital sustainability. By moving work to the cloud, there’s less of a requirement for data centres which consume a lot of energy.
Research in the US found that moving 86 million workers to the cloud would result in an 87% reduction in energy use and organisations would save between 60-85% in energy costs. Cloud technology not only streamlines business processes and saves money but also helps companies reach their ESG criteria.
One of the critical components of Industry 4.0 is the use of the cloud environment, where operations can be optimised and smaller enterprises can access technology they might not have been able to on their own. Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth revolution that has occurred in manufacturing.
Data sharing can open up a greater possibility of collaboration between organisations or industries, leading to improved solutions to social or environmental issues.
Organisations can combine resources from multiple industries and use this data to power their sustainability strategies. BCG research shows that data sharing can help with environmental issues and enable innovation, create trust, facilitate coordination, raise awareness and validate hypotheses.
Commitment to Processes
With 3.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions coming from our devices, leading organisations focusing on sustainability consistently seek to implement more sustainable operations and processes.
To make these processes successful, however, they must be practised by all staff members. Ensure your workforce knows the importance of being sustainable and build sustainability into your ESG goals and guidelines.
Educating your employees about conserving energy and the benefits this can bring to the planet and the company can result in lower usage. Consider providing training on how to use energy-saving technology effectively.
Companies not only need to configure strategies to meet digital sustainability goals but also commit time and resources to reap the rewards.
Attend SUSTx Procurement 2022 to Start Making Your Organisation More Sustainable
Business leaders from around the world will explore sustainable procurement and supply chain strategies at the SUSTx Procurement event later this year.
Taking place on 30th November 2022, the SUSTx Procurement conference will assist you in collaborating towards achieving a positive impact by integrating a sustainability strategy along the value chain.
To discover more about the event and book your place, click below.