Last week Obama launched his “Clean Power Plan” on the necessary initiatives for the US and the rest of the world to reduce carbon emissions. By 2030, the plan would reduce CO2 emissions from the utility sector by 32% from 2005 levels. It would raise electricity prices by an average of 15%, discouraging energy-intensive manufacturing. Obama also talked about climate change and the associated issues of energy and resource security are not his opinion, not a statement for political gain but fact for humankind.
Obama, cannot do this alone. He needs corporate and intergovernmental support and buy-in from everyone. I have been writing and talking about these issues and how they affect our industry for a few years yet I reflect on NAB earlier this year where I was actually asked to leave a stand when I raised the topic of resource security and social responsibility over short term economic gain. If the only driver for companies and governments is the economy then sooner or later striving for the current growth demands will leave businesses with no resources, huge energy bills and a population unable to pay the mitigation.
Many broadcast or digital media companies are adopting environmental initiatives but many are not, in fact studies show only 40% adults appreciate the issues. Ask yourself these eighteen questions:
- Do I support Obama’s initiative and if not, why not?
- Does my company know how to measure and reduce our energy and carbon emissions by 32%?
- Is my company only working with supply chains with a sustainability agenda?
- Do our company’s products reflect their true cost taking into consideration their impact on the environment and society?
- Can my company source raw materials and premade product components closer to home to reduce transportation emissions?
- Knowing that certain raw materials are not indefinitely available such as indium used in touch screens, silver and some rare earths, have we identified substitutes?
- Uncontrolled resource consumption leads to increased energy demands, degradation, depletion, huge amount of pollution and wastes. Indium has 12 years left and copper 29 years.
- What renewable energy sources has our company installed or requested from our utility company for electricity, transport fuels, heating and cooling water etc. ?
- It is essential to choose the right renewable source for your region namely tidal, geothermal, wind, solar concentration, photovoltaic or solar thermal.
- Has our management team put discussing sustainability and the adoption of a circular economy on the top of their agenda?
- Without discussion now, many companies risk becoming unsustainable themselves.
- Are management, staff and sub-contractors aware of the changes they can make to save our company money and reduce damaging environmental impacts?
- Choosing an experienced environmental scientist or sustainability consultant will pay dividends in the long term compared to working in-house with unqualified yet interested staff.
- Do we have a staff system in place to collate and reward initiatives to adopt sustainable practices?
- Companies doing this are discovering interesting new habits and when employees feel part of the process, management see a reduction in staff churn rate.
- Does our operation minimise staff movement and can we minimise travel using other communications technologies?
- Is our company making products that can be upgraded or repaired in order to minimize the use of raw materials and manufacturing energy?
- Changing the business model or manufacturing processes does not mean reduced revenue.
- What is your company doing to help reduce toxic e-waste now predicted to grow to 65.4 million metric tons in 2017?
- Take-back strategies for in-house recycling often reduce costs.
- Does your company develop innovative energy saving technologies using recycled retired technology components?
- Does your R&D department follow DfE strategies to make all IT and communications products recyclable and component interchangeable?
- By reviewing the product life cycle proposition at the product conception stage, it is easy to see where the energy, resources, weight, size etc can be modified. This is not so easy to do once the product has been made.
- Does your company make products that will increase the consumer’s energy demand?
- Does your company make improved environmental practices part of the staff performance review?
- Do I know what my company can do to make significant changes to help the bottom line and the environment?
Janet has been researching (Warwick University and University of Bologna) into the environmental impact of broadcasting and the connected digital media industry and is often asked to speak at corporate events. For companies needing help and advice to become more sustainable please contact her at [email protected] or catch her between interviews for Broadcast Beat at IBC.
 UN TEEB US Geological Survey BP Worm et al London Metal exchange. IIB Studio. Relates to worldwide known reserves.