The Role of Technology in Sustainability

In Technology by Vincent Brissot1 Comment

The Role of Technology in Sustainability

People and the environment are not independent of one another—our link is definitive and complex. Look to current laws and regulation, science, or religious manifests, to understand how human behavior impacts the Earth. It is man’s responsibility to handle our world with care, and that responsibility extends to the production and use of technologies. Technology can be resource-intensive. From supply, operation, customer use, and product end of service, we acknowledge the myriad ways humans affect this complex ecosystem.

HP’s carbon footprint spans the globe and the entire value chain, including millions of customers, clients, and suppliers. For the sake of our environment and future generations, we are working diligently to reduce our carbon footprint.

Our teams across the world are proactively working on carbon and water reduction, and we’ve already met some of our climate goals. We’ve managed to successfully reduce supply chain emissions by 4 percent and global operations emissions from 6 to 2 percent. How have we done this? By creating a less materials-intensive system, optimizing paper use and printing, and striving for 100 percent renewable energy, with an ambitious goal of 40 percent in the next decade.

Less is More

Using less materials to create the same quality product is one of our company’s goals. A result of this endeavor is HP’s EcoFFICIENT Paper. A product 25 percent thinner than average paper, it is saving trees and helping the company achieve our zero-deforestation goal. Another way we’re using less materials is our continual shift from analog to digital printing. Many businesses around the world already distribute electronic copies of presentations and documents as opposed to mass printing them, which allows for customization and printing on-demand, while decreasing waste.

In addition to individual products, we are looking to digitize whole supply chains through 3D printing technology. Many companies that already use 3D printing can speak to the effective way it reduces cost and waste. BMW and Nike have both reported substantial savings: BMW cut costs by 58 percent and project time by 92 percent, while Nike credits additive manufacturing for reducing their waste by 80 percent.

The need for printed materials is not completely obsolete, but because companies are printing less, distributing digitally, and creating virtual inventories, innovative solutions like these are making a positive and lasting impact on sustainability.

Reused is the New New

HP’s aggressive goal of achieving 40 percent renewable energy by the year 2020 is part of a global initiative. Top companies like Starbucks and Johnson & Johnson are committed to 100 percent renewable electricity, and currently more than half of Fortune 100 companies are saving more than one billion dollars through renewable energy programs. Looking to extend their efforts, HP is also committed to recycling materials to put less strain on the environment.

Whether creating new products out of recycled materials, or simply using less materials overall, HP is extending the life of current products and increasing the amount of recycled materials in product packaging. Our team has a consistent message across all channels, stressing the importance of reusing and repurposing, while engaging our community. In fact, schools and businesses all over the world are encouraged to participate in HP’s recycling program by collecting used ink and toner cartridges, and for good reason. HP reports “the recycled plastic used in Original HP ink cartridges has up to a 33 percent smaller carbon footprint and uses up to 75 percent less water,” taking the company a few steps closer to the ultimate goal of 100 percent renewable resources.

Efforts Across the Board

Many businesses are looking to reduce their carbon footprint by using less: Less materials, less space, less resources. With the help of e-readers, publishing companies are smoothly transitioning to digitization. This is especially important to the environment because traditional printing processes are not economically feasible and often very wasteful. Even after initial printings, it is reported about 30 percent of books in the United States are returned to the publisher unread.

The farming industry has been digitally transformed, relying on technology such as moisture sensors, drones, and smart irrigation for things like identifying weather patterns, pest control in the fields, and increased global distribution. According to the The Economist, farms are “being ‘teched up’ when it comes to growing food, to be both sustainable and profitable. This is a good thing because between 2016 and 2050, the Earth’s population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion.” Making farming practices more sustainable means feeding today’s generation, as well as future generations.

With more than half of the UK’s population owning library cards, it is clear these facilities provide an important service for its citizens. However, the call to cut costs is putting many libraries at risk of being completely dismantled. Research conducted by the Library and Information Center and Axiell shared a collective vision to reform and digitize the current system. The answer to creating sustainable, community-centric libraries lies in technology, including things like user-friendly tools and cloud computing. Integrating big data and analytics into operations helps libraries identify which resources will reach and better engage the community, cutting down on wasteful spending.

Large IT players must rise to the sustainability challenge in all industries. Smart technology and smart implementation of that technology will reduce our global footprint and ensure this earth is around for generations to come.

Photo Credit: hj바다 Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

Vincent Brissot is the Head of Channel Marketing & Operations at HP. With some 14 years of experience in channel enablement, business development, and marketing, he has a comprehensive understanding of and expertise in the IT industry related to hardware, services, and software. Vincent has worked in multiple countries, in regional and worldwide roles across Enterprise and SMB market segments.