When the environmental concern Global Warming is discussed the three main topics of debate seem to be does it exist, what is too blame for it, and who is responsible for fixing it. What can be done to correct the problem is rarely at the forefront of the debate unfortunately, but the responsible party always seems to default to the U.S. government. While it seems logical that the United States government should drive the movement towards a healthier environment the business sector has an important role to play as well. The resources commanded by the top 100 companies in the world outweigh those of the poorest 100 countries. With this level of power the business sector might very well be able to fix Global Warming before the government can decide who to blame for it.
Power consumption in the business sector has always been a large percentage of the whole. With Information Technology now such an important part of business, power needs have been on the rise. Stanford University professor Jonathan Koomey researched this issue and found that 1.2% of all U.S energy was being consumed by business data centers alone. Burning through this much power, as well as all of the computer waste being created by business means a giant carbon footprint. Although power consumption is not being addressed, the waste products are.
While refurbished laptops and computers are increasing in popularity due to large financial savings, the recycling of electronics is definitely on the rise. Thousands of tons of computers, cell phones, VCR’s, and DVD players are finding their way out of landfills and into recycling plants. Goodwill Industries now has a computer division that does nothing other than collect old computers, then refurbish and re-sell them at seriously discounted prices. The recycling business is in such demand in fact, the US based computer recycling company Metech was recently purchased for $22 million in cash and stock. Metech made $44 million in revenue in 2006 so there is definitely money to be made in doing the right thing.
So what can businesses do to prevent waste from winding up in landfills? Start here:
• Reduce paper – Businesses should only purchase recycled paper, and then as little as possible. Most major office supply stores sell recycled paper.
• Recycle Everything – well you can’t recycle everything, but a recycle center should be set up at the office with clear directions on what goes in the trash and what doesn’t.
• Educate – Make sure employees know what they can do to help the businesses improve the environment.