In a 2014 Greenpeace report, IT-related services were found to be responsible for around 2% of all global carbon emissions. That’s as much as the entire aviation sector – a sector that’s been under environmental scrutiny over the past few years and seen dips in growth thanks to a significant change in travel trends and destinations.
In 2017, the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics 2017 found that some of the leading brands were still lagging when it came to transparency in the supply chain, renewable energy and dirty energy – the 17 biggest companies responsible for more than 103 million metric tons of Co2e in 2016 alone. Today, the dialogue is changing, albeit slowly. Companies are finally paying attention to the value of the climate and the need to redress their impact on the environment.
“In Europe, a company’s green credentials are no longer considered a differentiator – if you want to sell something new or innovative you need these credentials in order to succeed,” says Patrick Reeves, Managing Executive at Axiz. “If you don’t have a recycling programme or a power efficient product or a trade-in programme, then you can’t compete in the market. Green has become a checkbox that companies need ticked before they’ll do business.”
Yet South Africa remains at least a year or two behind global green standards as many of the country’s decision makers are focusing more on the bottom line than on getting their environmental balance right. While this is somewhat understandable in a tight and mercurial economic and political climate, it is something that Axiz believes is as important to address as budgets and cost-efficiencies.
“We’ve been on the green journey for a long time and we’ve invested into initiatives and solutions that support not only our employees and business, but our customers as well,” says Reeves. “We have developed a cohesive PC recycling ecosystem across all our offices to ensure that our systems are appropriately disposed of and that our technology investment is into low-power, green-friendly solutions. Our goal is to minimise our impact on the environment as much as possible.”
The problem is that many organisations don’t consider the technology disposal burden of tomorrow when they invest in solutions for today. They are thinking of right now, of being relevant, and of their productivity. They aren’t thinking of what will happen to the PC or printer or printer cartridge after it’s finished doing its job. Fortunately, this mentality is starting to shift as more organisations and individuals’ vet their technology against high green standards.
“People want to know if their power supply has been vetted by EPEAT, for example, or how much power they use and how they can minimise this,” says Reeves. “They want solutions that will help them to reduce their impact on the environment and this is being driven by both employees and corporates.”
For several years, Axiz has made its own technology waste disposal premises available to its clients. Here, the e-waste is sent on to specific recycling plants where they remove the lead and mercury, separate the glass and plastic and metal, and ensure that the toxic elements are disposed of correctly. Axiz also works with relevant vendors, such as HP, that abide by strict disposal regulations that require they resell and recycle the various elements from their devices.
“HP has also developed HP Renew, a programme that refurbishes and replaces old laptops, getting them into a saleable condition for a new lease on life,” says Reeves. “On our side, we encourage our customers to use our premises to drop off their e-waste so we can dispose of it correctly and help them achieve their own green goals. The problem is that many companies are still not prioritising this, still see this as a hassle, and this has to change.”
In addition to the safe and correct disposal of e-waste, companies can expand their green footprint by investing in solutions that reduce dirty energy and improve transparency. Interestingly, this is where cloud – previously a hot contender for bad environmental practice – comes in. Cloud is starting to find its green feet as companies such as Microsoft and Salesforce focus on providing solutions that overcome the legacy issues of poor supply chain visibility, dirty energy and power-hungry technology.
Cloud and as-a-Service solutions have shifted their environmental footprint thanks to considered investment and interest from service providers and vendors. Microsoft’s cloud computing is 93% energy efficient and research by Northwestern University and Lawrence Berkeley National University has found that the cloud can potentially cut energy use by 87%.
“Cloud helps companies to become greener, even if they’re only focusing on price,” concludes Reeves. “It sits well with people who want to only pay for what they use and with those who want to ensure that what they use isn’t making the environment pay. The dialogue is changing and companies are starting to pay attention to how they can improve their green stance. For us, Axiz will remain committed to leading the way as we want to be a leader in building a greener future.”