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Walking the Talk
3 Top Sustainability Issues in 2019 and How to Address Them

Once seen as a ‘nice to have’ for businesses, sustainability has become a vital component of many global organisations’ social and economic strategies.

The adoption rate of sustainable practices has picked up in recent years, but as we head into the new year, a significant change is expected in businesses’ behaviour towards their sustainability efforts.

This movement, driven by consumers that are growing more concerned with the environment and sustainability, will see businesses take control of their sustainability strategies and acknowledge the top issues that they could be faced with as we begin what we are calling ‘The Year of Sustainability.’

Crucial to the achievement of global sustainability in 2019 is innovation in technology - something that is consistently found at the heart of rapid developments in the industry. Innovation is empowering businesses to utilise technological solutions in order to keep up with society’s changing priorities. Developments such as Internet of Things and blockchain are helping to enhance organisations’ sustainability initiatives, many of which are geared towards mitigating sustainability issues; others are geared towards proactively supporting initiatives. For businesses wanting to stride forwards in their sustainability efforts in 2019, the implementation of technology strategies couldn’t be any more important.

With the changing force of technology not showing any signs of slowing down, it is essential for businesses to be aware of these sustainability issues set to come to a head in 2019 and best practices to adopt in order to be at the forefront of this movement.

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Across the globe, businesses are the largest producers of hardware waste and recyclables, with a study finding that £40 billion worth of recoverable hardware materials is binned every year. Regardless of whether devices break, we as consumers have no hesitation in throwing away perfectly usable devices just so we can get our hands on the latest new gadget. Experts foresee the amount of annual waste increasing globally to 51 million tons a year as the digital world continues to expand.

Developing a sustainable waste and recycling program that works for businesses with better management of hardware, improved purchasing decisions, and a focus on reduction is essential. With IT devices being one of the fastest growing waste problems, one solution that can be implemented to reduce this is an effective IT lifecycle-management solution. To streamline IT device management, such a solution can offer a sustainable and low-cost process for businesses wanting to put a stop to unnecessary binning of devices.

Changing regulations

Worldwide, more and more regulations are being put in place to address the environmental issues we face with plastic waste and gas emissions. Governments wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, cut waste and save money are looking to businesses, because they are the largest consumers of electricity and produce vast amounts of waste and recyclables. With more local and national governments setting sustainability goals, businesses can expect voluntary and mandatory guidelines to come into effect.

Businesses will need to ensure they are compliant and avoid fines by checking local regulations regularly and giving themselves ample amounts of time to prepare before the laws go into effect. In doing so, they can ensure they stay ahead of the curve and adopt a sustainable model even before regulation requires come into effect. Beyond being in compliance, businesses should adopt suitable technology solutions such as AI and blockchain, and take the lead in areas that can really make an impact. Showing leadership in sustainability will not only benefit business operations but also earn crucial support from consumers and the public that could translate into benefits for years to come.

Measuring success

Sustainability can occasionally be difficult to justify from a monetary standpoint, making it challenging for CFOs and other executives to appreciate the importance of environmental stewardship. Big Data analytics are becoming increasingly important in planning along with the emergence of new insights helping to improve the efficiency of logistics. Data-driven metrics can help smooth this process, making it possible for finance and sustainability teams to work together to create new, cost-effective plans. However, providing those metrics can be difficult.

Given the proliferation of sustainability rankings and reporting standards, businesses should be looking to implement reporting tools, in order to streamline their reporting on sustainability. By streamlining this process, businesses can resolve inconsistencies and produce a positive impact, all whilst resulting in CO2 reductions.

It has become clear that the importance of sustainability goes way beyond environmental issues, as the need to behave responsibly becomes a key aspect of strategy for businesses. With technology helping to drive forward sustainability practices, ushering us into a new era of innovation in sustainability, it is time for businesses to respond and react — and take the lead — by switching their offerings to be more sustainable and ethical for the future.