– About Sustainable IT

Five keys to implementing your sustainable IT strategy

Sustainable IT is a broad topic that includes both environmental and social sustainability throughout the product life cycle. Doing it right can help your organization reduce risks, lower costs and improve business results.

Today’s IT products are manufactured and used in a mainly linear way, which leads to the depletion of valuable and sometimes scarce natural resources, a large climate impact and enormous amounts of e-waste. Major social problems such as health hazards, excessive overtime and human rights violations also occur throughout the supply chain. By developing a sustainable, circular strategy for IT procurement, organizations can lower their impact and reduce costs connected to its IT usage1. Paying attention to sustainability can in some cases also lead to better business results, and more profit2.

Sustainable IT strategy – 5 key aspects

1. Include environmental AND social sustainability

A sustainable IT strategy should cover all major sustainability challenges throughout the product’s life cycle, including environmental risks such as pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as social aspects such as worker health and safety, child labor, and living wages. Many issues are linked which means that a broad sustainable IT strategy will be much more coherent and efficient. For example, there is a clear link between social responsibility and circularity. Human and worker rights can actually be used as levers to accelerate our transition to a circular economy.

2. Use your purchasing power

IT products should be prioritized in sustainable procurement, as it is a product category connected to a large number of serious sustainability issues, which at the same time, often represents a large budget item for the organization. To push for more sustainable practices, you should include relevant, up-to-date sustainability criteria in your purchasing policies and contracts. To enable a circular mindset, the products you choose should be designed for a long life: be durable, upgradeable, easy to repair and have enough capacity to meet your needs for several years.

However, the first question you should ask yourself is: do we really need to buy new products? A majority of the IT product’s sustainability impact happens in the supply chain (for example, nearly 80 percent of a notebook’s greenhouse gas emissions occur in the manufacturing phase), so avoiding to buy new is a good way of lowering your sustainability impact.

3. Using products longer

Using your current equipment longer is the most effective way of saving natural resources, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing other sustainability impacts. It can also help you maintain product value. For example, by extending the life of a computer workstation from three to six years, the cost of purchasing and usage can be reduced by nearly 30 percent over a 10 year period1. There is a huge potential in repairing and upgrading products. By cooperating with refurbishers and remanufacturers, you can create substantial sustainability benefits whilst getting the best overall value of your assets.