As our world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, it’s important to consider the technology industry’s environmental impact. While technology can provide immense benefits, it can also be incredibly energy-intensive and contribute significantly to our carbon emissions.
So, can the technology industry really become more sustainable? At Bell Integration, we believe that the answer is yes, but it will require a concerted effort from all players in the industry.
Here are a few of the ways technology organisations are using to become more sustainable:
One way to make technology more sustainable is to use ‘clean energy’ to power our systems. This includes renewable sources like solar panels, wind turbines, hydroelectric and geothermal power plants. Tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Amazon have already made significant investments in renewable energy.
Microsoft has maintained 100% green power usage across its U.S. operations for six years straight and has been powered by renewable energy at around 95% since 2013.
Google has also pledged to run its operations on carbon-free energy by 2030, and Amazon has launched several wind and solar farms to power its data centres.
In fact, Amazon has been the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy since 2020. It has invested in 128 solar and wind projects in Europe alone, generating energy equivalent to powering 3.5 million homes a year.
By making these investments, Amazon has set a new record for the most renewable energy purchased by a single company in one year, and is on track to powering its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025 – five years ahead of its original target.
As well as implementing renewable energy sources, the technology industry can make data centres more sustainable by adopting energy-efficient technologies and practices.
For instance, Google has invested in advanced cooling systems, such as using seawater to cool its data centre in Finland. Facebook has created an innovative cooling system that uses outdoor air to reduce energy consumption.
Microsoft is on a mission to find a zero-carbon alternative to the diesel-powered generators that provide backup power to its data centres. Last year, the organisation achieved what Sean James, Microsoft’s Director of Datacenter Research, described as a “moon landing moment” by developing a generator that runs on hydrogen and produces zero emissions.
Another way to promote sustainability in technology is to focus on using sustainable materials in the products we create. This means using recycled materials, as well as designing products that can be easily recycled or repurposed.
Companies like Dell have already implemented closed-loop recycling systems, where they reuse materials from old products in new ones. HP has also made a commitment to reach 75% circularity using recycled materials in its products and packaging by 2030.
The technology industry generates a significant amount of e-waste (electronic waste). This includes a wide range of items such as computers, smartphones, printers, monitors and data storage devices. E-waste can contain hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and cadmium, which can pose serious environmental and health risks if not disposed of properly.
Due to its high volume, low recycling rate, and potentially harmful nature, e-waste is a growing concern for many countries.
According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020, the world generated 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste in 2019, which is equivalent to the weight of 350 cruise ships, and is predicted to 74.7 million metric tons by 2030
One example of a tech company tackling e-waste is Dell. They have launched a program called ‘Dell Reconnect’ that allows consumers to drop off their unwanted electronics for free recycling at participating ‘goodwill locations’ in the United States.
Dell also offers a mail-back recycling program for small businesses and a trade-in program for larger companies. Through these initiatives, the organisation has recycled more than 2.2 billion pounds of e-waste since 2007, and has set a goal to recycle 100 million pounds of recycled content into its product portfolio by 2030.
The future is Bright, the Future is Green
The technology industry has the power to make significant strides towards sustainability. By focusing on green technologies, sustainable materials, recycling e-waste and embracing energy-efficient practices, we can reduce our environmental impact and build a more sustainable future.
Bell Integration is just one of many companies that have recognised the importance of sustainability and are taking significant action. By working together, we can create a more sustainable technology industry that benefits everyone.