Avoid an eco-catastrophe with sustainable technology

18/09/20183 Minute Read

Sustainable technology isn’t something most people worry about when they get their hands on a shiny new smartphone, laptop, or TV. But for all the benefits technology provides, the production and disposal of it—and often, just the use of it—plays a role in generating a looming eco-catastrophe.

In the past, tech companies typically aimed for low costs when it came to manufacturing, and many turned a blind eye to where their materials came from and where their products ended up. But it’s time everyone wised up and started thinking about how companies can enhance efficiency in the workplace and protect the environment at the same time.

To give credit where it’s due, HP is one industry player making impressive plays in the sustainable technology game. The City of Adelaide is also making some moves of its own down under. Today, they’re both leading the pack in eco-friendly efforts—and they just might inspire you to follow in their footsteps.

Take a green hint from HP Inc

In the digital age, e-waste is a huge issue. HP took notice of this fact and started offering top-notch hardware recycling services in no fewer than 74 countries and territories. In 2009, the company expanded its hardware takeback programs in Australia and New Zealand, which involved establishing a comprehensive network of drop-off points that allowed customers to easily return HP-branded products for recycling.

Australians, like their counterparts in other nations, can return their used HP print cartridges for recycling at no cost to themselves. HP has also minimised its greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to their Global Workplace Initiative, which aims to “reduce the space we occupy, use resources more efficiently, and decrease HP’s environmental footprint.”

The initiative has seen the company favour locally produced or recycled construction materials; sustainable timber; low-emission adhesives, carpet, and paint; and reflective roofing materials (these reduce the need for air-conditioning). Where possible, HP facilities are also equipped with energy-saving and wastewater-recycling systems, as well as bike racks and designated parking spaces for low-emission vehicles.

What do all these sustainable technology policies translate to in the real world? Well, in 2017, HP’s eco-friendly initiatives resulted in the following:

  • 4.6 million units of hardware repaired
  • 1.27 million units of hardware remarketed/reused
  • 135,200 tonnes of hardware recycled

Smart cities introducing efficiencies with IoT

Smart City initiatives are coming to Australia, aiming to fast-track the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) down under. These initiatives are attempting to bring together data from various sources, including newly installed sensors and existing information systems, to facilitate real-time monitoring of energy use, traffic, and air quality. Once this (big) data is available to governments, businesses, and academics, they can create environmentally sensitive plans and policies.

For example, the City of Adelaide has introduced a Smart Environment Monitor pilot project. Sensors throughout the city monitor C02, dust, sound, and temperature. This data is made freely available not just to government, universities, and corporations—but also to any member of the public who is interested. It’s these kinds of smart city initiatives that Adelaide’s policymakers hope will help them better manage things, like energy consumption, carbon emissions, and the movement of people—enabling them to create welcoming and informative city experiences for residents and visitors alike.

In the same way Homer Simpson is given to declaring beer to be both the cause of—and the solution to—all his problems, the good works of companies like HP provide hope that tech titans will solve many of today’s environmental problems.

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