Sustainable technology and why it is critical to businesses
Technology is now intrinsic to everyday life, and it is constantly evolving. In January 2021, there were 4.66 billion active internet users globally, with 92.6 percent of those having accessed the internet via a mobile device (Statista, 2021). The world is becoming more connected each day through technology, and from that has come a universal realisation of the climate crisis we face.
Most of the technology we use on a daily basis was once unimaginable, but the fast-moving, prolific nature of the industry may have caused as many problems as it has solved. From the overproduction of plastics to the threat of our digital carbon footprint, we need to find ways for technology to work in harmony with our ecosystems.
Sustainable technology has taken the world by storm in recent years, following the demand for every individual, business and organisation to put the planet first. It is a broad term that describes “innovation that considers natural resources and fosters economic and social development” with the goal being to create products that pose minimal harm to the planet (Rubicon).
The sustainable technology revolution
Sustainable technologies are already settling into our society. Public transport, for example, is a major way of combating air pollution which, according to the World Health Organization, causes an estimated seven million deaths worldwide each year. The environmental and health risk of traffic-related air pollution has also led to a huge push for electric transport, with predictions that 40% of all cars will be electric by 2030 (BBC).
As a society, we have already adopted many technologies that minimise the use of non-renewable energy in our daily lives. Energy efficient light bulbs and smart meters, for example, allow us to be conscious of our energy consumption at home and in the workplace, ensuring that we are not wasting valuable resources. On a larger scale, solar and wind power are becoming more accessible across the world, with solar farms even operating in Alaska where climate change requires some of the most urgent action (BBC).
The integration of environmentally-friendly technology comes as part of the global challenge of “sustainable development”. In 2015, the United Nations set up 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. The goals include ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality, and ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable energy.
SDGs are becoming ever more prominent as we get closer to 2030, and everyone from individuals, to startups, to corporations are making an effort to make sure we reach them. For all parties, taking advantage of sustainable technology is a smart solution.
How are businesses using sustainable technology?
It is becoming more necessary that businesses have sustainability statements with goals and processes put in place to support SDGs. The reason it is so critical to a businesses success, is that actively protecting the planet, whether primarily through supporting environmental foundations or embracing sustainable technology, is essential to maintaining credibility as a business. As the market demands more planet-friendly products, businesses must adapt to excel in their field and become key players in achieving a circular economy.
Technology is always in high demand, with consumers and trends moving incredibly fast. The industry is fueled by competition and the desire customers have to upgrade their devices as soon as they can. In order to keep up, companies have to find a way to continue supplying high-quality, exciting products in a less wasteful way.
Apple is the largest tech company in the world and, knowing the significance of the footprint they leave behind, they now operate fully on renewable energy. The company also plans to make every one of their products carbon neutral by 2030 by using 100% recycled or renewable materials such as aluminium and steel (Apple). They also hope that by the same year “all of the electricity charging their devices will be 100% renewable”, showing that if such an enormous corporation can aspire to be more sustainable, then all businesses can.
Greentech partner, Oro, a Japanese-Australian fusion sushi dark kitchen, demonstrates how food chains can apply sustainable technology to their practices. As well as sourcing food locally and utilising recyclable packaging, ORO provides a pescetarian menu to reduce livestock carbon emissions and supports environmental foundations such as the Reef Restoration Foundation. These small adjustments are just the the first steps to creating a fully sustainable kitchen.
Transparency is key
Sustainability has arguably become somewhat of a buzzword nowadays, and a facet of a brand that is praised yet unquestioned. There is not one singular definition of the word as there are endless ways of being sustainable within a business. Many businesses can be stringently sustainable in one area, be that recyclable packaging or a single product, but less able to meet expectations in others.
This blurred area is what makes company transparency so important in attracting consumers, businesses and possible investors to sustainable technologies. It is important to provide a clear vision of exactly how a business is working on their sustainability. For example, through providing details about their manufacturing processes or how they plan to improve those processes.
Ultimately, businesses need to gain trust and loyalty from their consumers. By showing that they are taking action to solve some of the problems that modern living has caused, they can form strong relationships with consumers and boost the market for sustainable technology at the same time, making it more cost-effective in the future.
The future relationship between businesses and sustainable technology
Sustainable technology is booming and now is the perfect time for businesses to take advantage in the best way that suits them. As ESG scores (Environmental, Social and Governance) are becoming more and more important for businesses to demonstrate, it is being found that paying attention to environmental impact creates real financial value. In a recent McKinsey study, results showed that of 2,000 studies there were 63% of positive findings related to financial gain for companies who worked on their ESG scores.
Every business can be a part of bettering the planet for future generations through the use of sustainable technology. Whether it is through switching to renewable energy in their offices, or recreating existing products out of new materials, businesses can elevate their ESG scores and simultaneously be a catalyst for social change.
Part of our work here at Greentech is connecting businesses with sustainable technologies, empowering them to reach their sustainability goals. If you are uncertain how to best approach setting sustainable goals, please get in touch.
Technology is here to stay and is sure to advance even further in the next decade. Now is the perfect opportunity for businesses to embrace sustainable technologies and place their brand at the forefront of positive global change.
Internet users in the world 2021 | Statista
What is Sustainable Technology? | Rubicon
Air pollution | WHO
Why electric cars will take over sooner than you think | BBC
The world’s most unlikely solar farms | BBC
Goals | SDGS
We’re carbon neutral | Apple
Five ways that ESG creates value | McKinsey