How IT Leaders Can Help Their Organizations Achieve Sustainability Goals
In an era of climate change and public dissatisfaction with government response, private companies are seizing an opportunity to lead on issues of sustainability and the environment. In part, they’re responding to customers and shareholders who are increasingly vocal on these topics.
Customers want to know whether the companies they buy from engage in sustainable business practices. Shareholders are scrutinizing corporate ESG policies and records. As a result, many large companies like Logitech now publish detailed reports on their efforts to support Environment, Social, and Governance goals. And every area of the business is expected to contribute toward those goals, including IT.
Sustainable IT, also known as “Green IT,” is an emerging concept to describe “the initiatives IT undertakes to support the broader organization in achieving its ESG goals.”.1 Proponents of Sustainable IT recognize that IT is a contributor to an organization’s environmental impact – as well as a key partner in reducing that impact.
On the one hand, IT can help organizations automate and digitize processes that reduce energy consumption and the use of natural resources. On the other hand, these operational efficiencies address only the tip of the iceberg. For many organizations, the greatest contributor to environmental impact comes not from internal operations, but from the supply chain.2
With that in mind, IT’s greater opportunity to reduce a company’s environmental impact may come from its own procurement decisions. It has been said that “the fastest way to green your business is to purchase from one that has already greened theirs.”3 For IT leaders, this means examining the contribution of vendors and the supply chain and developing a strategy to minimize those inputs.
To Achieve Sustainable IT, Focus on Scope 3 Emissions
When organizations look at sustainability and environmental impact, they often do so through carbon accounting, or their carbon footprint. Carbon accounting is a framework of methods to measure and track how much greenhouse gas an organization emits.
This emission of greenhouse gas is categorized into three types: Scope 1 emissions, which covers direct emissions from an organization's facilities; Scope 2, which covers emissions from electricity purchased by the organization; and Scope 3, which covers other indirect emissions, including those from suppliers or vendors.
For IT, Scope 3 emissions should be a key sustainability focus. By requesting that vendors measure and transparently report on their environmental impact – including both their own carbon footprint and the contribution from their suppliers – IT leaders can purchase strategically to support the business’s sustainability goals.
An Action Plan for Achieving Sustainable IT
Make no mistake, achieving a more sustainable IT organization is not a simple matter. It requires a significant effort and a long-term commitment. Nevertheless, every journey begins with a step in the right direction.
Step 1: Understand the impact you're having as an organization right now. This means measuring the impact of your operations and the impact of your supply chain, including all the technology you purchase and provide to the business – computers, network equipment, peripherals and devices for employees, and so on. Create a baseline which you can then measure against in subsequent years to see whether purchasing decisions are reducing your carbon footprint.
Step 2: Put together a set of requirements or guidelines for purchasing decisions. Prioritize opportunities to reduce Scope 3 emissions through vendor evaluation and selection.
Step 3: Include criteria on RFPs that require vendors to disclose their ESG and sustainability practices and record. Some criteria for evaluating vendors include:
Sustainability efforts spanning product lifecycles
Environment and society-focused efforts
Track record of meaningful impact
Logitech invests in the carbon removal project, Qianbei Afforestation Project in China, to support the creation of new carbon sinks.
Logitech’s Commitment to Sustainability
At Logitech, equality and the environment are core values, and we’ve made great strides to ensure they are at the center of everything we do. Sustainability is core to every design decision from the moment raw materials are sourced to the end-of-life of a product. Our ultimate purpose is to create products that extend human capability and help all people pursue their passions in a way that is good for people and the planet.
Our ambition is to become “climate positive” by 2030 — to remove more carbon than we emit. But beyond making pledges, we’re actually walking the talk.
Logitech’s most recent annual sustainability report, titled FY23 Impact Report, marks the 15th reporting year for the company. The FY23 Impact Report intentionally reflects our expanded commitment and approach to measuring and understanding our impact and progress. Transparency is critical.
“As part of our long-term journey toward climate positivity, our 15th Impact Report illustrates how our teams, including our value chain partners, are making meaningful progress on lifecycle carbon reductions,” says Prakash Arunkundrum, chief operating officer at Logitech. “There is much work to be done, but the future we want is possible, and the path forward is clear.”
As a design-led company, we realize that the biggest opportunities to reduce environmental impact and enhance social impact arise early in the design process when key decisions about a product are made. Indeed, the sourcing and manufacture of materials, components, and products accounts for more than 50% of our total impact. So we reimagined our product development process to design for sustainability (DfS).
Design for Sustainability means that we consider sustainability as part of every design decision. It’s not an afterthought. Our in-house design and engineering teams can "design-out" impacts. We consider the full lifecycle of our products and design for low carbon impact and high recyclability.
“Our commitments and actions are informed by an understanding of our impact,” according to Robert O’Mahony, head of sustainability, global operations at Logitech. He notes that we continue to broaden our knowledge and capability to ensure we account for the entire scope of that impact — climate, biodiversity, social, and more.
Among the achievements documented in the FY23 Impact Report are these:
Certified carbon neutral throughout the entire product portfolio and operations across the full value chain and on track to becoming climate positive by 2030
- Exceeded our carbon reduction, renewable electricity, and external metrics goals
- Reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions by more than 56% and decreased carbon intensity by 74% since 2019
- Reduced Scope 3 value chain emissions by more than 21% since 2021
Nearly two in three (2:3) products now use post-consumer recycled plastic, lowering carbon and environmental impact across the portfolio
Over 50% of new products have FSC™-certified packaging and 11% of all Logitech products use FSC™-certified packaging
42% of Logitech products shipped in 2022 had a product carbon footprint label compared to 17% in 2021; currently on track to have 100% of products carbon impact labeled by 2025
Logitech facilities across the globe are powered by 94% renewable electricity
At Logitech, product development teams are guided by our sustainable design principles.
We report on all of these goals and achievements annually with as much transparency as possible. We urge you to review our commitment as documented in our extensive FY23 Impact Report. And we invite you to work with us to help you achieve Sustainable IT for your company or organization.
2. “How sustainable supply chains can unlock net zero emissions,” Accenture, January 2022.