A beginner’s guide to sustainable technology

While many businesses are aware of the benefits of making sustainable changes in an organisation, such as going paperless, adding recycling bins and using eco-friendly products, there's even more offices can do to boost green ratings and save energy.

Switching off lights and encouraging workers to take eco-conscious transport to work is beneficial, however many organisations may forget about making green changes to the tech they use. Discover how technology offers a range of potential alternative, more sustainable options.

Cutting carbon in computers

Begin a green audit of the technology in your company by assessing computer usage. It's common knowledge that shutting down devices rather than leaving them on stand-by saves energy and cuts power bills too. However, take this one step further by analysing the components that the tech uses for the most efficient and sustainable computing choices possible. 

An easy way to do this is to consider switching from desktop computers to laptops, as they consume less energy and require fewer materials to make. Despite the initial cost and possible disruption that this switch may cause, the benefits of making such environmentally aware decisions are likely to be felt in the long-term. 

In a 2007 statement, Gartner, a leading technology research company, stated that the international IT industry accounts for approximately 2 per cent of the worldwide levels of CO2 emissions. This reveals how much of a contribution computers and other forms of technology can have on the amount of harmful carbon dioxide levels in the environment. Taking the time to make even the smallest of changes as well as more company-wide policy reviews, such as switching to laptops, can help to make not only your business but the world a greener, more sustainable place to live.

Recycling technology

Most companies promote sustainable living by having recycling bins in and around the office and some employees opt for reusable sandwich wraps to avoid excessive plastic consumption. Yet it's not just your lunch leftovers or scrap paper that can be recycled – unwanted or broken technology can also be given a new lease of life. E-waste recycling is a growing part of the corporate world, as more and more organisations are realising the effect of making sustainable changes across as many areas of the business as possible. 

According to a report by the Total Environment Centre, it was predicted that by the end of 2008, approximately 168 million electronic items, including computers, would end up in or be on their way to landfill. Figures such as these highlight how big of a problem e-waste is across the country and how taking steps to reuse and recycle technology as much as possible can lessen the amount of waste electronic products for healthier, more sustainable businesses as well as the planet.

In a report entitled Go Green, Save Green: The Benefits of Eco-Friendly Computing by the US-based Schneider Electric, computers and other devices which are five years old or less make for ideal donations to schools or charities. As well as giving your company's excess tech a new home, you're helping to protect the environment.

The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme run by the Australian Government provides small businesses with free access to recycling for this type of equipment. Plus, depending on the location, some companies may be able to claim tax incentives for doing so, making considering your company's e-waste a financially as well as environmentally sound choice.  

Hopefully this guide has made you think about how your organisation can make green changes for better business practice as well as for a more eco-friendly outlook on the world. If you've been inspired to make changes to the way technology is used in your company, consider extending this approach to other corporate policies to ensure your business is as environmentally aware as possible.