With this week’s celebration of European Sustainable Development Week, (May 30-June 5) many organisations will be talking about how they plan to become more environmentally-friendly. However, despite growing interest in this area, too many new sustainability initiatives fail to make an impact in the long term. This is according to Rod Tonna-Barthet, CEO of Reading-based Kyocera Document Solutions UK, who calls on business leaders to commit to deeper cultural changes in order to enact long-lasting change and realise the benefits that sustainability can bring.
The ESDW is a European-wide initiative to stimulate and make visible activities, projects and events that promote sustainable development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It takes place every year from 30 May until 5 June.
Rod said: “Initiatives like European Sustainable Development Week are great for raising awareness around sustainability and there’s clearly growing interest in the business community. Unfortunately, all too often sustainability initiatives soon taper off and fall short of inspiring real change. Business leaders need to drive this transformation, embedding sustainability within the culture of their organisations and investing in the right technology to ensure they make a real difference. With this approach, business leaders can contribute to building a more sustainable and socially-conscious organisation, significantly lower their costs and grow their bottom line, whilst improving their brand and reputation. So, ultimately, it pays to be green.”
Organisations are increasingly seeking to capitalise on new technologies to optimise their energy and resource efficiency strategies, with the vast majority stating that investing in smart technology and innovation is either a ‘high’ or ‘business-critical’ priority for them in 2019. For Rod, to make a lasting impact on their sustainability, organisations should look to new digital technologies that help them change their approach to information management. This includes moving towards paper-light ways of working, and optimising and digitising their documents and data to cut down on their carbon footprints.
“Paper is arguably one of the most visible environmental impacts in the office environment and our research suggests that the average office worker uses 45 pieces of paper every day, much of which goes to waste,” Rod added. “By leveraging simple print and data management software, businesses can start to tackle this deluge of paper, and make a big and immediate impact on their carbon footprints. We typically see organisations achieve reductions of 30 per cent in their printing volume once they’ve made this step, and that’s before businesses start to explore preconfigured settings such as automatic double-sided printing to save toner and further reduce paper usage.
“This sort of small step can make a major difference and should be sustainable to maintain for any organisation and its employees. But to really make a difference to sustainability, businesses have to look beyond their own offices and use their influence over their supply chain to grow a broader culture of sustainability, taking it from a buzzword to a better way of doing business. They should ask their suppliers difficult questions about how they manufacture their products and the steps that they have taken to reduce their own environmental impact. This way they can ensure that they share their values of sustainability.”
Rod said: “While initiatives like European Sustainable Development Week are fantastic drivers for encouraging people to act sustainably, it is the belief in its value and responsibility of chairmen, CEOs and managing directors to translate this enthusiasm into real action on sustainability. Change needs to be driven from the top, so business leaders should use European Sustainable Development Week as the springboard into a major re-think on their approach to sustainability. As organisations are undertaking their digital transformation, they should explore the potential to improve their environmental footprint by putting sustainability at the heart of their strategy and company culture.”