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  • Writer's pictureAlex Wimperis

Climate change hasn't stopped for COVID - 19

From Daniel Quelch -

Sustainability Manger at Epson’s Opinion Piece in Industrial News March 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly hit industry hard presenting various and significant challenges to businesses of all sizes. The immediacy of the issues that the pandemic created has seen priorities such as sustainability being overtaken.

However, climate change continues to pose a very real threat to our planet and future generations.

Sustainability seems to have been firmly put on the backburner by many businesses during the pandemic, with our research revealing that less than a quarter (24%) considered it to be among their top three priorities.

In contrast, the demand for greener products and services has never been stronger, particularly for the younger generation. In fact, 86% of Gen Z and 79% of Gen Y have high eco-expectations, paying more attention to the environment and social credentials of the brands they work for or engage with.

The pandemic will continue to be front of mind for businesses for a while longer yet. However, priorities seem to be shifting as restrictions ease, with 65% of businesses pledging to place a renewed emphasis on sustainability following the pandemic.

So, how can businesses take responsibility for this pressing matter and ensure that sustainability reclaims its place on the business agenda in 2021?

Leading the business with sustainability at the heart

Before the pandemic, many organisations, including Epson, had already committed to a range of sustainability goals.

While these may have been suspended by some, there's an opportunity to address sustainability head-on once again and drive business value, this year and beyond. The pandemic has caused many to rethink operational models and supply chain processes and there is a clear opportunity to put sustainability at the heart of these plans.

It’s important for businesses to understand that every choice they make, from the equipment and technology they buy to how they operate, is an opportunity to demonstrate that they are a responsible, eco-centric organisation to work for, engage with and buy from.

This requires a genuine commitment to ethical leadership and good governance led from the top, with executives driving value-based strategies.

These plans can be driven by dedicated sustainability managers and subsequent sustainability champions that manage regulations in the areas of waste, energy, chemical and product safety, as well as ensuring corporate social responsibilities are met.

Rethinking product design processes

Growing environmental consciousness is putting pressure on both businesses and consumers, urging them to produce, use and dispose of products more responsibly. But this also creates opportunities to develop technologies that help to further reduce contributing factors to climate change while answering the needs of an evolving workplace and society.

For businesses, designing more sustainable solutions helps both themselves and consumers to reduce their environmental impact- by saving energy, CO2, and reducing plastic use.

This approach ensures that the environment is considered at every phase of the product life cycle, from design - including the materials and components used - to manufacturing, distribution, use and recycling.

One example of how this is being applied to Epson's inkjet printing technology. By eliminating the toner cartridge waste that laser printers to produce and instead depositing ink droplets onto media without heating the ink, the user can benefit from 95% CO2 and energy savings and up to 95% plastic reduction.

Products should both support a businesses sustainability goals and reduce a customer’s environmental impact - minimising resources, energy and waste, while significantly reducing their company’s carbon footprint.

Recycling wherever possible

It's crucial that businesses conserve valuable environmental resources and reduce waste wherever possible - the effective management of end-of-life products is critical.

Responsibly collecting and recycling products and supplies is key. For example, every business should use trusted services such as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and those for batteries, paper, wood and plastics etc.

Recycling should be made easy for customers too, offering free, convenient collection and drop-off services wherever possible.

For example, Epson recycle hardware on offer a free cartridge collection and recycling programme that has different collection systems for different products, with consumables, such as ink cartridges, toners and waste ink containers, sorted and professionally recycled by certified partners.

Looking to the future

It's time for sustainability to become ingrained in every business’ DNA to ensure longevity. Each and every business can commit to making greener choices, encompassing every element from manufacturing and design, to changing employee, customer and even consumer behaviours.

As we collectively grow and learn through this challenging time, businesses have the opportunity to create more responsible ways of working, produce more sustainable technologies and develop solutions that serve a genuine social purpose.

Sharing this commitment means we can drive positive actions for a better and more sustainable future - for our businesses, people and the environment as a whole.

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