An introduction to sustainable technology
Consumers are beginning to make purchases with sustainability in mind. The modern shopper wants to know that the products they’re purchasing were manufactured with ethics at the forefront. There’s a growing demand for businesses to step up and show a sustainable initiative.
One of the leading industries for this green revolution is the technology sector. With tech playing such an integral role in the day-to-day life of most people, larger companies have had to do what they can to step up and embrace this new-found passion for sustainability.
Whether with a genuine desire to help the world, or just their bottom line in mind, a number of tech giants are doing what they can to make products greener. In this guide, we’re going to assess the current state of sustainable (or green) technology, while also looking at how larger businesses are doing their bit to help.
What is sustainable technology?
The phrase sustainable technology is something of an umbrella term. Technology that is sustainable operates through a trio of core principles:
Negative by-products of manufacturing are eliminated when green methods are utilised. That means things like contamination or anything that encourages deterioration. There’s also a focus on preventing any kind of potentially harmful environmental impact.
Perhaps at the core of sustainable tech use is the replacement of something which causes damage with a more environmentally friendly alternative. For example, a non-biodegradable substance being swapped out for something which will naturally break down over time, or a non-renewable resource being replaced with a renewable one.
The technology has to be as efficient as possible in terms of its use of energy and any natural resources. That means no wasteful use of any of the central materials being used in a process.
Anything which has been produced keeping these factors in mind can be considered a form of sustainable or green technology.
The importance of green technology in sustainability
It’s clear that sustainable technology has a big impact on the world around us. But just how valuable is it in the overall fight for sustainability and natural resource management? Here are some of the most important ways technology has a positive impact on sustainability efforts:
Supply Chain Management
A Responsible Workforce
Types of sustainabe technology
To really understand the impact of this kind of tech, it’s important to get a grounding in the kinds of things which fall into the sustainable bracket. Some of the most prevalent forms of this kind of tech include:
Sustainable technology at home:
Close up of LEDs
Solar powered homes
Smart heating devices
Backyard wind turbines
Dual flush toilets
Wind-powered street lights
Sustainable technology stats and facts
Now we have a better understanding of what sustainable technology actually is, we can assess how much of an impact it has on the world around us. One of the best examples of how important the sustainable market is comes in the form of a report from the IEA.
They found that renewable forms of electricity will account for 196.1 GW of global power come the end of 2021. That was a steep rise from the amount produced in 2020, which totalled just 166.7 GW.
When broken down by region, China is without doubt at the forefront of electric energy production. Encouragingly, all forms of renewable power capacity saw a predicted net growth for 2021. Encouragingly, the UK Government is looking to embrace the development and use of green technology to fund next-generation forms of sustainable energy. As part of their plan to kick-off a new green industrial revolution, they are introducing the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).
This fund promises a total of £1bn across a number of priority areas, including the likes of:
As much as £92m of the total sum will be distributed to three core areas of green technology. Those being:
What businesses can do to be more sustainable
It’s not just the giants of the world who can do their bit to protect the world around them. Other businesses also have the potential to step up and make a real and meaningful impact. While they might not have the same resources available to them as the likes of Apple or Google, there’s still plenty that can be done to have a positive impact.
Some of the most effective ways to make a change include:
Green web-hosting services
Invest in carbon offsets
The future of sustainable technology
Now we’ve taken a look at what companies are doing to fight for sustainability, let’s turn our attention towards the future. The way in which technology governs our lives is adapting and evolving on a daily basis. So it only stands to reason that our green tech will continue to change at the same rate. So what comes next for sustainable technology?
What a more sustainable future might look like
It’s impossible to know what the future has in store for us. But with something as data-driven as technology, you can at least make an educated guess. If the prioritisation of sustainable technology continues at the rate which you’d expect, here is a snapshot of what our society may one day look like:
With carbon continuing to stand out as the main antagonist of an environmentally-friendly future, it wouldn’t be unthinkable to see entire cities which have developed to the point of carbon non-dependency. With so many alternatives to carbon-based energy now available, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see cities outright ban its use.
The global push for EVs has and will continue to see a huge variety of electric cars on roads. If targets across the next few decades are met, we could see a near-exclusive electric motorway in the future. Should that happen, electric roads themselves may become the norm. These could take a number of forms.
There are already plans in place to use overhead wires to charge trucks, but this may not be a feasible option for regular vehicles. As such, we might see charging technologies employed in the road themselves. These would keep a vehicle topped up on electric power as they drive, reducing the need to stop and use manual charging points.
Sustainability at the forefront of politics.
Sustainability has already become a major talking point in a number of debates and even elections. But the growing pressure from voters to see global warming taken seriously could result in it overtaking the likes of taxation, international relations, education and even healthcare as the primary topic of debate.
A recent report found as many as 77% of voters across 11 European countries saw issues around climate change as one of the most important factors in deciding their vote. This was closely mirrored by young people (those aged 30 and less), where 75% chose based on this.
Sustainability should be at the forefront of consumers and businesses minds'.
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