How Sustainable Technology Supports the Environment
Climate change impacts everyone. We are experiencing deforestation, overconsumption of non-renewable resources, air and water pollution, carbon dioxide emissions, and extreme natural disasters. It’s increasingly important to protect the health of our planet for future generations. One way that’s helping is sustainable technology.
What is sustainable technology?
The term “sustainable technology” describes innovation that prioritizes the protection of natural resources and recognizes the social, economic, and environmental impacts of technological innovations. Sustainable technology is used to create and develop sustainable products that minimize negative impacts to the Earth. The goal is to do as little harm to the environment as possible, while supporting economic and social development.
Sustainable technology can benefit the environment in the following ways:
By making eco-friendly substitutions, such as replacing non-renewable resources with renewable resources
By preventing negative environment impacts (destruction, deterioration, damage, or contamination) during a product life cycle (from sourcing to production to disposal)
By optimizing efficiency or reducing usage of energy, water, and other resources
What are the benefits of sustainable technology?
The most obvious benefit of sustainable technology is the benefit to the environment. But there are other benefits companies enjoy when they implement sustainable innovations.
Benefit #1: Risk reduction
Sustainable technology can help companies reduce their risk. By using renewable resources, you’re protecting your company from the negative impacts of climate change.
Benefit #2: Profit improvement
Using resources more efficiently or reducing usage both have positive impacts on a company’s bottom line. Reducing costs while maintaining the same output boosts overall profit, which means your company can be more competitive.
Benefit #3: Reputation enhancement
Consumers are increasingly paying attention to the companies they support. And it’s no surprise that customers want to support companies that are committed to sustainability. Being environmentally responsible is appealing to many shoppers so being transparent about your dedication to sustainability can enhance your company’s reputation.
Benefit #4: Top talent
Attracting and retaining top talent is a constant challenge. High salaries and benefits are not the only consideration when candidates consider a potential employer. According to a global PWC survey, “[m]illennials want their work to have a purpose, to contribute something to the world and they want to be proud of their employer. The brands that appeal to young people as consumers including those that stress their environmental and social record, are the same brands that appeal to them as employers.”
Corporate Examples of Sustainable Technology
Companies — especially global companies — understand they have a responsibility to support environmental health and reduce the impacts. Efficient consumption of natural resources, pollution mitigation, and supply chain improvements are just a few examples of what all companies should be doing. Here are four global companies that go above and beyond to support sustainability.
As one of the biggest retailers, Walmart gets kudos for using sustainability technology to eliminate waste and reduce energy use, while also improving supply chain control. The retail giant uses built-in IoT sensors and shelf-scanning robots to enhance energy savings and improve the customer experience. Through online services such as Mobile Express Returns and QR code scanning, they enable their customers to shop from the comfort of their homes, thus limiting CO2 emissions and minimizing pollution.
As a well known sustainable clothing company, Patagonia has always been known for being a champion of the environment. Some sustainability innovations they have implemented include LED lighting, smart grid-controlled heating and air conditioning, solar panels, water control sensors, and recycled construction materials. Patagonia also provides global fundraising for environmental issues and solutions. Plus, they have a blog dedicated to environmental education.
As a leading software provider, Microsoft has taken steps to reduce its impact on the environment while supporting other companies in their efforts to be more sustainable. For example, Microsoft’s cloud computing enhances energy efficiency and reduces material waste. Providing increased accessibility to server-less software means fewer data centers, which translates to less usage of cooling processes, ventilation, and air conditioning. Microsoft also uses artificial intelligence to create a comprehensive directory of U.S. forests. This enables companies and people to better manage forests, which play a key role in the planet’s health as well as human health.
Nice-Pak Products, the pioneer and leading producer of wet wipes for consumer markets, also recognizes the importance of forests. The fourth-generation family-owned company is taking its commitment to sustainability to a new level by partnering with American Forests and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s flagship education program, Project Learning Tree. Nice-Pak, the parent company of Nice 'N CLEAN® Wipes, is investing in tree planting programs and youth environmental educational programs. The collaboration includes planting 150,000 trees across the U.S. over three years, creating the potential to capture 92,000 metric tons of carbon over their lifespan. On the education front, Project Learning Tree will develop and implement a digital curriculum focused on the connection between healthy forests and human health to reach over 25,000 K-12 students over the next three years. The Nice 'N CLEAN® brand recently launched its first biodegradable wet wipe product as part of its continued efforts to improve sustainability. Nice 'N CLEAN® SecureFLUSH™ Technology Flushable Wipes are 100% biodegradable* and break apart 5 times faster than the leading toilet paper.** All Nice 'N CLEAN® Wipes are made from plant-based fibers sourced from trees in environmentally managed forests. And the soft-pack packaging uses 81% less plastic than the hard canisters many other wipes companies use.
Sustainable technology is constantly developing and improving to help protect the environment. As a consumer, supporting companies that are environmentally responsible is one way you can help in the ongoing effort to combat climate change.
*When disposed of in the toilet
**Safe for well-maintained sewer and septic systems. Not recommended for use with motorhomes or basement pump systems.