ARTICLE

Sustainability, it’s in the Details

Adapting to new working practices presents an incredible opportunity to assess and adjust our approach to sustainability.

Sustainability, it’s in the Details

a man sitting on a bench working on laptop

Small wins, big impact

Adapting to new working practices presents an incredible opportunity to assess and adjust our approach to sustainability. Changes don’t have to be extreme; they can include a range of small but effective actions, such as embracing recycling and reusable materials, switching to more sustainable modes of manufacturing and reviewing transport or packaging best practice. Small wins across a wide range of areas can have a big impact.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

From separating the paper, plastic and cardboard used in the office, to reducing the use of disposable cutlery, sustainability initiatives often start with the details. One of those details needs to be equipment and technology decisions. The reason is obvious: technologies such as PCs, laptops and smartphones represented just 1 per cent of the world’s carbon footprint in 2007. Today, that’s already tripled and is on its way to exceeding 14 per cent by 2040.1 While technology is intrinsic to the modern business, there are still small – yet hugely beneficial – changes organisations can make to address one of the most serious problems for the environment.

For example, keeping a business phone for three years instead of two, or a laptop for six years instead of five, can make an impact on a company’s use of materials. If enterprises are doing this on a national scale, there will be less demand for new devices, and in turn a reduced requirement for fresh raw materials. When companies need new products, they can opt for remanufactured or refurbished equipment.2 As well as being better for the environment, companies can save on average 30 to 50 per cent of the selling price compared to the same equipment made new.3 Furthermore, thanks to ratings programmes and awards schemes, customers have greater visibility of brands and products that are less harmful to the environment and contribute to the circular economy.4

Cut the commute

Greener ways of commuting to work each day – or not commuting at all – can also be beneficial. The average co-working space, for instance a communal office closer to home, can help save 118 metric tonnes of CO2 annually.5 Prior to the pandemic, a select number of companies had introduced more flexible working policies, allowing people to work from home or cultivate a co-working space in an agile environment. Now, many companies support a mixture of remote and office working,6 reducing carbon emissions while improving staff wellbeing.

Technology is making all this possible. With the right solutions and printing capabilities, workers can seamlessly transition between the office and their remote working environment. For example, before 2020, video conferencing had already become a staple in workplace communication, connecting colleagues around the world. But under pandemic working conditions its usage increased dramatically to facilitate everyday meetings that could not be done face-to-face.

two work professionals working on laptops

Reap the benefits

With so many opportunities to meet sustainability goals through incremental steps, it’s important to remember why they will remain so valuable over the next decade. A report published in 2020 found that 80 per cent of Europeans think big companies and industry are not doing enough to help the environment,7 suggesting that businesses who strive to make a positive difference can win customers, while those who don’t may lose them.

Taking action on sustainability can also increase the chances of attracting and retaining talent. Some 26 per cent of UK workers said they would accept a lower salary to work for a sustainable organisation, while half of those surveyed said they would consider declining a job offer from a company with harmful practices.8 Global research has also found that millennials and Gen Zs will demonstrate significant job loyalty to employers who share their vision for positive social change.9

Sustainability for businesses today is less about ‘if’ and more about ‘how’. The good news is that by working on the details and making small changes, businesses can make a significant impact. All it takes is that first step forward.

Be inspired to make small changes, starting with your print fleet. Download our picture book, EQ80 – A Life In Pictures.

AUTHOR QUOTE

“Sustainability for businesses today is less about ‘if’ and more about ‘how’”

Andy Tomkins, EMEA Sustainability Engagement Manager, Canon Europe


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