Why tech companies are so insistent about sustainability

Why tech companies are so insistent about sustainability

Climate change is taking aim at a new victim: corporations. Wired shares, “A new report by CDP shows that 215 of the world’s biggest companies expect climate change to cost them $1 Trillion in five years.”

To help them recoup some of those costs, tech companies are making huge investments in sustainability.

Though many have long been accused of using more than their fair share of non-renewable resources and polluting the planet, their sustainability efforts get far less airtime. Ahead are some of the most creative corporate strategies for sustaining the planet.

A planet in peril

Some climate experts predict earth will be virtually uninhabitable within ten years time. According to estimates from the United Nations, that’s how long we have until the environmental issues reach an irreversible precipice, “if we don’t cardinally change the way the global economy works and leave things untouched.”

Now’s the time for dedicated action, and many of the most powerful corporations are looking to help facilitate a major course correction by focusing on business sustainability.

“Business sustainability, also known as corporate sustainability, is the management and coordination of environmental, social and financial demands and concerns to ensure responsible, ethical and ongoing success,” as defined by Tech Target.

Together, these social, environmental and economic demands form what’s known as the three pillars of sustainability or triple bottom line. The idea is to expand beyond the short-sighted vantage point of pure profitability and pursue a more complete approach to corporate responsibility.

Corporate sustainability in action

The concept of ethical corporate citizenship looks a little different from company to company.

There are those who focus on implementing more sustainable technological processes like energy efficiency or resource conservation. Others concern themselves with the social aspects of sustainability, or basing their long-term plans on innovations that meet more stringent standards for sustainable tech.

Some notable approaches include:

  • The use of renewable resources: Some of the largest tech titans consume enough energy to power multiple small countries. By utilizing technology like solar infrastructure, they can produce tens of thousands of megawatts. So far more than 300 RE100 companies have made a commitment to go ‘100% renewable’ in the next few years.
  • Consumer and employee education: Whether it’s incentivizing employees with a bonus tied to environmental performance or informing customers about product recycling programs, the most committed corporations are taking a people-first approach to sustainability.
  • Sustainable partnerships: Companies may have stringent selection processes for their supply chain partners or work with nonprofits and other community partners or climate advocacy groups. For example, the Climate Savers Computing Initiative is a nonprofit group of eco-conscious consumers, businesses and conservation organizations who organize themselves around the goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 54 million tons per year by producing and purchasing power-efficient computing products.
  • Electric vehicle fleets: Behemoths like Amazon recently purchased 100,000 electric vehicles and aims to transition their entire fleet off fossil fuels by 2030. The move is having a positive fallout, which could soon set a new standard for the rest of the corporate world.
  • Planetary stewardship projects: To help offset their carbon footprints and prioritize more environmental protections, many tech companies donate a percentage of their profits toward restoration efforts or work with organizations like 1% for the Planet, a global network of businesses tackling the most pressing environmental issues.
  • Circular product life cycles: Reuse and recycling programs can also make a huge impact. For instance, in 2018, Lenovo helped process 40,300 metric tons of computer equipment, 91% of which was recycled and only 1% of which was disposed of in a landfill.
  • Community investment:

    Global philanthropy efforts help ensure we’re prioritizing generational sustainability, too. Lenovo’s topped $15 million last year, supporting communities devastated by COVID-19 and investing in educational equity efforts that make STEAM learning available to all.

For all the heat tech companies take for their role in propelling a dangerous consumerist society, they also spend considerable effort promoting what matters: sustainability.


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