Plugging in for a more sustainable tomorrow
Sustainability is high on the agenda
As COP22 approaches, governments and businesses continue to question how sustainable we already are and what improvements can still be made. November 2016 will see the annual Conference of the Parties to the UNFCC (COP) meet in Morocco for COP22 to further shape next steps as outlined in the Paris Agreement adopted in April 2016 post-COP21.
There is no denying global leaders have put sustainability high on the agenda and for industry it is also a key part of business strategy moving forward. Although a common responsibility, maximising resource efficiency undoubtedly also has a strong impact on the triple bottom line – social, economic and financial – and in an ever competitive market, this is critical, and for some businesses, the deciding factor in making the shift.
Spurred on by discussions taking place on a global scale, businesses are going beyond small sustainability efforts and implementing a “top down” approach, seeing the benefit of strong leadership support and action based strategies for the future of sustainability. Eco innovation takes sustainability to the next level by embedding an eco mind-set into the DNA of the business; for example, by being mindful of how every product, service or activity affects the environment at every stage of the life cycle.
In 2004, Epson aligned to the United Nations Global Compact – a global platform for sustainable businesses – and became one of 13,000 signatories working together to achieve the Sustainable Development goals of the UN, for example as per Principle 9: “encouraging the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.”
The company is doing just this, going beyond simply reducing the environmental impact of products by proposing new products, services, functions and uses that change customer behaviour and work processes – for example, its unique PaperLab technology. Announced at end of 2015, it can recycle waste paper in the office using a dry process, therefore creating an office ‘eco-system’ that can reduce CO2 emissions; increase savings on collection, disposal and logistics; and save water, which is used in huge volumes in traditional recycling processes.
As part of the “big picture” drive for sustainability, the company has outlined its Environmental Vision 2050, targeting a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions across the life cycle of all products and services by 2050. In the meantime, Epson’s SE25 Mid-Term Environmental Policy is in progress, helping to implement a long-term strategic focus on sustainability, with four areas of focus, specifically: new perspectives; products; production; and, environmental community. As part of this shift from a “business company” to a “society company”, Epson’s goal is to provide customers with compact, energy-saving, high-precision technology – for example, its new range of robots are more compact and flexible, offering greater space-saving opportunities, as well as less power consumption.
According to FY2015 sustainability results, the company has already taken big strides towards reducing environmental impact across its products and manufacturing processes. With a 43.3% reduction in CO2, a 33% reduction in waste emissions and a 55.4% reduction in water consumption, eco is definitely top of Epson’s agenda. In addition, taking a full value chain approach, in 2015, it evaluated approximately 1,300 business units of 900 companies in order to select suppliers based on its Basic Procurement Policy and communicate its approach to CSR.
Despite both a big push by businesses and governments, recent Quocirca research commissioned by Epson found that 91% of SMEs do not have an employee who is responsible for sustainability and only 18% of SMEs think sustainability is a worthwhile cost1.
In addition, the survey – of 500 European corporations – revealed that despite 68% of companies stating environmental considerations are becoming more important in their organisation, just 23% of them are using energy efficient computers and printers2.
However, more encouragingly – and perhaps linked to the legislative landscape, as well as the clear business and sustainability benefit – 53% of European business decision-makers say that sustainability is very important to their organisations, with 68% of respondents stating it has become more important over the last 12 months3.
As global governments continue to make a stronger commitment to tackling climate change in the run up to and post-COP22, now is the time for businesses to embrace sustainability as part of their DNA, making concrete and lasting changes which will drive us towards a more sustainable future.
1Quocirca Print Sustainability Study 2016
2Quocirca Print Sustainability Study 2016
3 Quocirca Print Sustainability Study 2016