Technology original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are in a unique position to set the standard for environmental sustainability. There are opportunities for incremental improvement, bold innovation and new revenue streams throughout the product lifecycle — many of them quite profitable. As sustainability continues its march from fringe interest to widespread preference and codified law, those opportunities will proliferate. Savvy OEMs that build sustainability into their product designs, manufacturing processes, supply chains and end-of-life considerations will set themselves apart from their competitors and set themselves up for future success — while also helping to create a better world for us all.
As your sustainability efforts accelerate, however, beware of the temptation to greenwash your endeavors. With increasing scrutiny of companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities, this isn’t the place to fake it ‘til you make it — even with the best intentions. Today, 95% of large companies publish ESG reports. If an organization is stretching the truth, somewhere down the line people will notice. Reputations, customer relationships and the organization’s ability to attract talent and investors may suffer the consequences — and, of course, so will the environment. A promise to improve sustainability doesn’t mean much if it’s not backed up by a realistic strategy and tangible actions.
One concrete step an IT OEM can take is to utilize sustainable supply chain management and logistics. A good place to start is by asking, “How does my supply chain contribute to (or detract from) my ESG goals?” A jaw-dropping 87% of carbon emissions in logistics are driven by transportation, which makes proximity to materials and markets paramount, along with the choice of conveyance. But there are other actions that can move the needle as well. For instance:
- Inventory optimization can reduce warehouse square footage, and thus greenhouse gas emissions
- Resilient supply chains that factor in fault tolerance can withstand procurement and distribution disruptions, helping to avoid subsequent environmental costs, too
- Ethical supply chain standards can ameliorate human rights concerns and environmental challenges
Adopting the tenets of a circular economy helps, too. An antidote to the “take-make-waste” linear economy, a circular economy centers on the desire to keep materials, parts and products in circulation and out of landfills for as long as possible. It begins with next-use thinking during the design phase. Consider the following questions while brainstorming product design:
- Which raw materials will be easiest to recycle or repurpose as products age?
- Which raw materials will cause the least amount of environmental and societal damage upon extraction?
- Which components will be easiest to repair, refurbish or reuse?
- Which components will enable your company to use the most eco-friendly manufacturing processes?
Additionally, depot repair services encourage asset recovery and reuse while keeping parts and products from adding to the world’s growing e-waste crisis. Compliant, responsible IT asset disposition maximizes the value of technology by ensuring products are disposed of properly.
Partner to Drive Sustainability
Now that you know what you need to do, how do you commit to it and follow through? Reshaping your business model to incorporate sustainability as a key driver burnishes your reputation. But reshaping your business model in the first place can be a challenge in itself. Outsourcing services to a partner who complements your own areas of expertise can help free up critical funds, resources and team members to instead dedicate toward advancing your ESG strategy and other core initiatives.
Services ripe for outsourcing to an experienced partner include supply chain management, global field services, repair services and IT asset disposition, along with many others. Partners who share your commitment to sustainability can help you assess, develop and deploy a workable ESG model that incorporates:
- Bespoke global logistics and repair solutions
- Closed-loop supply chain processes
- Opportunities in the circular economy
- Compliant and responsible end-of-life service options
- Detailed, data-driven reporting specific to ESG goals
- Employee tools and training for ESG project execution
- Sustainability support for a wide variety of technologies, such as medical devices
Look for a partner who offers the right combination of these capabilities, along with an enhanced line of sight and leadership aligned to your ESG aspirations — those you’re working toward today as well as those on the horizon. They should also be as devoted to their own sustainable practices as they are to yours. “You’re judged by the company you keep” is as true in business as it is in life. And with ESG soon to be among the top three factors driving IT equipment purchasing decisions, it’s wise to heed that advice.
Meet Your ESG Goals With a Like-Minded Partner
The global economy often seems at odds with sustainability. Materials are sourced here; components are built there. Finished goods are produced in yet another far-flung location and then shipped all over the world. As a long-time participant in the global technology ecosystem, Shyft Global Services’ commitment to a healthy planet starts with our own processes and extends to the comprehensive services we provide for our customers and their customers. Shyft is dedicated to leading the way through ESG best practices for technology and IT services centered on:
- Putting environmental issues at the forefront of our thinking and decision-making
- Implementing energy-saving products, solutions and services throughout our facilities and offices
- Reducing unnecessary use of certain equipment to save electricity and reduce our carbon footprint
- Recycling disposable items, from pallets and packaging materials to electronics and everyday rubbish
- Meeting or exceeding environmental mandates in all the countries in which we do business
- Maintaining safe, certified facilities and empowering employees to minimize their environmental impact at work
Download "Your Guide to Actionable Sustainability in IT" to explore the actions you can take to prioritize and commit to more sustainable practices today.
About the Author
Steve Bair has been with the company since 1997 and currently serves as the Director of Global Engineering for the Repair Services organization within Shyft Global Services. He has extensive experience with and passion for product and services solution design, engineering, delivery and management. He has a proven track record in cross-functional leadership roles as well as weighing and balancing the objectives of the company and the customer to develop innovative solutions that solve complex business needs.