The Business of IT Blog

Making Environmental Stewardship a Priority for Business

4 minute read
Wendy Rentschler
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As we mark Earth Day this year, more companies are doubling down on their sustainable commitments. In fact, it’s pretty big money. How much?

Well, investors sank $12.2 billion into environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)-friendly funds in just the first four months last year. And a collection of investors managing an asset portfolio worth more than $100 trillion have signed the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, which focus on ESG considerations when investing.

On top of that, a coalition of 60+ business leaders has aligned with the Big Four accounting firms to support the World Economic Forum (WEF) and International Business Council (IBC) set of 57 Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics and disclosures intended to hold companies accountable to their ESG commitments.

New technologies are helping

Beyond investment decisions, the tech sector is also helping the environment through emerging technologies. A recent report from the European Environmental Agency credits digital technologies with streamlining waste management processes on the continent through the use of automation, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, cloud computing, and analytics.

And Accenture takes it further. According to its research, by migrating to the public cloud, companies can yield total cost of ownership (TCO) savings of 30 to 40 percent and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 59 million tons (or 22 million cars’ worth)—per year. That’s a great step toward the climate neutrality goal of the EU’s Green Deal, which seeks to eliminate net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, separate economic growth from resource use, and create inclusive opportunities for everyone. A quarter of the €750 billion fund is dedicated to climate action.

Room for improvement and how BMC is helping

While those are awesome endeavors, they’re a piece of a much larger puzzle, and there’s work to be done. The United Nations has 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) that are the “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030.” The UN SDG focuses on preserving land, water, and air, and the biodiversity they sustain. At BMC, our corporate social responsibility (CSR) work is rooted in helping to solve the issues raised in the UN SDG. We do this while also fostering innovation to help businesses and ourselves evolve to an Autonomous Digital Enterprise that includes everyone.

Minimizing or reversing the environmental damage inflicted by humans spans many of the UN SDG goals. One of those areas, climate change, spawned significant weather events such as wildfires, increased hurricane activity, warmer oceans, extraordinary winter storms, and more that impacted people and wildlife over the last year. With many communities relaxing lockdown restrictions and more people now or soon returning to work, air quality improvements achieved during the pandemic may start to backslide.

IQAir’s 2020 World Air Quality Report found that 65 percent of cities around the world had better air quality in 2020 versus 2019, while 84 percent of nations reported better overall air quality—improvements attributable to fewer people out in the world due to pandemic restrictions. Companies evaluating how and when their people return, and embracing full-time remote or hybrid arrangements will no doubt help keep those numbers down with a reduction in commuting.

Goal 15 of the UN SDG is to, “Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss,” and BMC is proud to work with Reforest’Action, One Tree Planted, GreenThumb, and Vashundara in their mission to do that. To date, we’ve helped restore forests around the world with over 10,183 tree plantings, which have stored more than 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, created over 30,549 animal shelters, and generated 40,732 months of oxygen.

Humans also generate a ton of waste, from electronics to plastics, and now, personal protective equipment (PPE). Think of all those devices we carry. They’ve generated 38 percent more electronic waste over the last decade, and only 20 percent of that waste is recycled. Our waterways are also threatened. Last year, PPE started showing up in our oceans and threatening our wildlife.

According to a recent Ocean Conservancy report, Pandemic Pollution: The Rising Tide of Plastic, 107,219 face masks, gloves, wipes, and shields were recovered from beaches and waterways worldwide in the second half of 2020. That’s in addition to the already-toxic problem of plastics, which enter the world’s waters every year to the tune of 17.6 billion pounds (8 billion kg) a year. As you’ll see below, BMC is committed to recycling our equipment whenever possible and we encourage our people to do the same. We also advocate for our employees to volunteer with the Ocean Conservancy to help clean up waterways.

BMC’s commitment

At BMC, we maintain Global Accreditation for ISO 14001:2015, a guideline for our environmental management system policies and practices. We are committed to doing everything we can to:

  • Reduce levels of energy consumption from electricity, gas, and other fossil fuels
  • Reduce consumables use with recycling of equipment, waste products, and redundant items (which we often collect and redistribute through device drives)
  • Use, store, control, and dispose of waste properly, including responsible disposal of hazardous materials in line with best environmental practices
  • Purchase items produced from sustainable sources, and continually seek services, equipment, and power providers that are committed to environmental protection
  • Reduce travel impact through collaborative technologies, and record and analyze data to best manage our carbon footprint when we do travel
  • Prevent and reduce our use of substances and processes that adversely affect the environment

As we navigate our workforce’s eventual return to the office, we’re investigating opportunities to renew and expand on our commitment to be a sustainable, environmentally responsible organization, and we encourage our people to do so as well through our BMC Cares volunteer organization.

Get involved

So, this Earth Day and every day, what can you do to help? We’re so glad you asked! These are some of the environmentally responsible activities we’re encouraging among ourselves, and we hope you’ll join in, too.

  • Check your footprint
  • Look for an Earth Day event near you
  • Visit earth911.com to find a place to safely dispose of your electronics
  • Locate a free shred event to shred those old paper bills—and then go paperless!
  • Dig out your old phones and donate them to Medic Mobile, which refreshes them and puts them in the hands of first responders
  • Donate your old PCs to Comp-U-Dopt so they can give them to students who need them
  • Download the CleanSwell app and volunteer to help pick up trash along local waterways
  • Consider plant-based meal swaps

It’s vital to take care of the environment in which we coexist. We can all make a difference. Visit earthday.org to get started.

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

Wendy Rentschler

Wendy is the head of Corporate Social Responsibility at BMC, where she champions equity & inclusion through programming where people can thrive, feel heard, and do some of the best work of their lives. Her mantra: Gratitude is free.