Sustainable IT: A balanced approach to technology

13 Nov 2023

Sustainable IT encompasses an environment-focused approach to the design, use, and disposal of computer hardware, software applications, and accompanying business processes. It’s a crucial initiative that addresses four critical areas:

1. User hardware and devices: Extending the lifespan of hardware through repair and refurbishment to reduce raw material extraction and unnecessary production.

2. Cloud computing: Optimising data center efficiency, cooling and energy sources for a greener computing infrastructure.

3. Networks and communication systems: Deploying innovative solutions like edge computing to enhance data transfer efficiency and reduce network transfers.

4. Application and data: Developing greener devices and infrastructure, incorporating sustainable artificial intelligence (AI).

To effectively implement these measures, businesses and institutions must have clear environmental policies, transparent disclosure and reporting.

Environmental Challenges of IT

The widespread use of hardware and software in organisations significantly contributes to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly with the surge in tech activities across all economic sectors. The demand for data storage, coupled with the increased number of user devices, exacerbates the problem.

E-waste: An Escalating Issue

The irresponsible deployment of electronic devices leads to a substantial increase in e-waste. It’s been reported that back in 2019, a staggering 53.6 million tons of e-waste were generated worldwide, marking a 21% increase in just five years. Astonishingly, 89% of organisations recycle less than 10% of their IT hardware, underscoring the urgent need for sustainable IT practices.

Current State of Sustainable IT Adoption: 

According to analysts, around 50% of businesses have sustainability strategies integrated into their business plans but only a small fraction have a comprehensive sustainable IT strategy. Add to this, hardly any IT leaders are reporting on their IT sustainability performance or impact. However, one of their challenges is that they don’t have the tools to report on this.

However, firms and institutions embracing sustainable IT stand to gain a multitude of benefits, including an enhanced brand image, increased customer satisfaction, higher ESG scores and more importantly, improvements in talent attraction and higher employee satisfaction.

That’s why, throughout a sustainable IT journey, IT leaders should prioritise building a sustainability culture among employees at all levels, fostering awareness and feedback for continuous improvement.

Academia’s Lifecycle services help deliver sustainable IT through its dedication to the circular economy. To find out more, get in touch.

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