Reduce & Repurpose: Minimising The IT Carbon Impact

According to Mckinsey & Co, in 2020, more than 4,500 companies worldwide self-reported their greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions for public disclosure and about 40 percent of those companies have committed to specific emissions targets as part of their strategic and financial plans.

As consumers increasingly clamour for eco-friendly products and responsible corporate behaviours and with more investors embrace capital-allocation strategies that take ESG principles into account, the corporate world is making sure to take these factors into their long-term planning.

Closer to home, oil and gas companies, Petronas and Shell Malaysia have integrated strategies to lower their carbon emission production.

Petronas announced its aspiration to achieve Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 as part of its holistic approach to sustainability that balances ESG considerations.

Petronas President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Tengku Muhammad Taufik said, “As the world contends with the many challenges brought about by energy transition, Petronas is embracing its role in providing access to affordable, secure and sustainable energy to businesses and society. The Group is committed to fulfill its purpose in providing cleaner energy and solutions that benefit both the world we live in as well as the customers we serve through reduced emissions.”

Shell Malaysia on the other hand recently introduced the first petrol station in the country to be awarded the Provisional Gold Standard by Green Building Index (GBI). 

In January, Shell reached another milestone in its journey to lower carbon emissions in its mobility operations by the installation of solar panels at 100 of its petrol stations in Malaysia.

Getting their first start

“On a macro level I believe awareness is building. Of late there has been much coverage on the impact of global warming both in the local and international press, but I think much more awareness is needed on how companies and enterprises could minimise this,” says Leanne Ooi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rentwise. 

Leanne urges companies to look at their own operations first as many do not realise that it is more than just swapping out brand new computers with refurbished ones.

“The entire IT infrastructure often needs an overhaul to most effectively slash their carbon footprint in a sustainable and responsible manner. We have been educating companies we work with and through our outreach programmes, how businesses could minimise their IT carbon impact,” she tells BusinessToday. 

Rentwise does so by advocating the act of reducing and repurposing. Leanne points out that heavy users of technology make up a small percentage with most users requiring a good enough machine that is able to run their application suites without being overkill.

This is where a remanufactured machine will do the job at no compromise to quality or efficiency.

According to Leanne, laptops and desktops generally contribute 350kg and 650kg of carbon respectively from the start of production to the end of use with 75 to 80 percent of the impact coming from the production stage itself.

“Imagine this, 15 laptops’ carbon footprint is equivalent to that of a mid-size car, less so for desktops which is a much bigger device. This tells us how much carbon footprint remanufacturing can help minimise as the majority of the device remains intact with upgrades and improvements done instead.

“In fact, we are able to get a third cycle out of a machine, in which these machines are repurposed for education so companies that work with us will be able to ensure their business requirements for IT are managed in a circular manner,” she says.

While current efforts are proving to be fruitful to an extent, it is not without its challenges.

The current regulatory framework has been rather unsupportive for businesses like Rentwise and the mindset that new is always better prevails in some cases.

“We are optimistic this will change over time, and we are working very hard to build awareness amongst the government agencies we are in touch with, on how technology can be repurposed and used to solve the massive shortage of IT devices in schools for example,” she says.

She also urges for the general view that retired machines should be sent for recycling rather than repurposing to change quickly.

“In the last few years and in the years to come, businesses like ours have and are going to be a lot more important to sustaining economic growth. We cannot continue linear business models without dire consequences to the environment and with growing cause for concern, we are confident we will see more stakeholders join hands in achieving a common goal,” Leanne concludes.

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