European businesses not capitalising on energy efficient IT

Despite cost and sustainability pressures, new survey finds that just 23% of European companies are realising the full potential of energy efficient technology available

A new Epson survey of 500 European corporations investigating the importance of sustainability and its influence on IT purchasing decisions, has revealed that only 23% are using energy efficient computers and printers, despite 68% saying that environmental considerations are becoming more important to their organisations. The survey, conducted for Epson by European research and analysis company Quocirca, polled senior IT managers and procurement leaders in an even mix of large1 and small-to-medium enterprises2 (SMEs) in retail, financial services, education and the public sector across the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

Stark differences in attitudes were revealed between large enterprises and SMEs, with 74% of large enterprises viewing sustainability as a high priority compared to only 33% for SMEs. Surprisingly, only half (53%) of European companies stated that is was very important overall.

Whilst environmental measures such as paper recycling, low energy lighting and increased energy efficiency were found to be fairly commonplace, differences in the use of energy efficient IT solutions by organisation size were also evident. Larger enterprises (39%) were more likely to be using energy-efficient IT compared to smaller enterprises (8%), with SMEs perceiving cost as the main barrier.  

Rob Clark, Senior Vice President, Epson Europe states: “Although SMEs see sustainability as a cost and not an opportunity, the opposite is often true. Making the switch from laser to inkjet printers, for example, can help companies achieve energy savings of up to 96%, CO2 emission reductions of 92% and waste reductions of 95%3. Therefore, offering not only cost efficiencies but energy efficiencies too.”

Over half of respondents (56%) state they plan to make the switch to inkjet over the next 12 months but it was evident that there are still some misconceptions in the market. Of those asked, 74% said that inkjet printing was the “lower price” choice between inkjet and laser yet only 37% and 36% of respondents said inkjet had “lower environmental impact” and “more efficient energy use” respectively.

This comes at a time when there is greater pressure for organisations to comply with national and European sustainability regulations or standards. In fact, large organisations were found to be more aware of European environmental guidelines (55%), such as the Green Public Procurement (GPP) handbook, and to accept costs such as employing a dedicated sustainability expert. Of large organisations surveyed, 57% said they had a full-time sustainability expert, compared to only 9% of SMEs.

Louella Fernandes, Associate Director, Quocirca, highlights that: “Those with a higher focus on sustainability will continue to reap the benefits. Just 18% of SMEs are willing to accept additional costs related to improving eco-efficiency but there are simple, flexible and cost effective products and services available.”

Clark concludes: “There are options for SMEs in Europe today that can help them transition to more eco-friendly equipment without resource or investment burdens. One example is a Managed Print Service (MPS), such as Epson’s Print 365, which acts as a full service lease, helping organisations to control and optimise their printing, and to align to the organisations environmental goals.”

Supporting this, the research participants currently using an MPS reported numerous advantages. On average they are more likely to be seeing better device reliability, lower environmental impact, improved document security, and lower energy use.

Other contrasts were seen on a regional and sector level with Germany leading the way in sustainability practices; in fact, 84% of German organisations reported that sustainability was very or fairly important compared to just 66% of UK organisations. From a sector perspective, the education sector was the most positive about implementing greater sustainability practices with 63% of respondents saying it is “worthwhile, even if it costs more” compared to only 23% in financial services sector.


More than 1,000 employees

2 Between 250 and 1,000 employees

Research conducted by BLI, 2015