Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How Green Are We?








Author: Chris Fernando


With rising energy costs and the threat of global warming, many individuals and businesses alike are now recognising the benefits of using technology to reduce their carbon footprint and to minimise waste. Even local organisations have started realising the importance of such initiatives.

Abu Dhabi for instance, is constructing what would supposedly be the world's first zero-emissions city. However, we are only humans – we have a tendency of embracing and then discarding fads with alarming speed. But global warming is no fad. It's a real problem, and it grows worse by the day.

Attitude Needs to Change
“‘Going Green’ is no longer a catch phrase,” proclaims Krishna Murthy, the Deputy Managing Director for Acer Computer Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META). “It is rather a new way of conducting business. Organisations have a social responsibility to care for the planet and leave behind a greener earth for the coming generations to enjoy,” he explains. “This planet will survive only if we work together for sustainable development. We must be ready for our competitiveness in tomorrow’s market, which is to be shaped by sustainability issues.”

According to Nicole Maria Meier, the Marketing Manager at D-Link Middle East, the fact that we are living in an oil producing rich country, might lead to the illusion, that energy resources and raw materials are infinite. “However, once legal systems and recycling facilities are in place and education programmes are being conducted, the overall awareness in this region will be enhanced. This will ultimately lead to consumers being more aware of choosing equally energy-efficient and pro-environment products,” she adds.

While the attitude of consumers needs to change, the education about green technologies available on the market should start from vendors. Epson for instance, contributes to the fight against global warming through actions that ultimately lead to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. “Apart from our ongoing efforts to minimise the energy consumed by our products during use, we are reducing emissions from our production processes and are reducing energy consumption by streamlining our logistics,” says Khalil El-Dalu, the General Manager at Epson Middle East. He claims that Epson was recently recognised for its environmental initiatives when it was awarded the Minister of the Environment award at the 9th Ozone Layer Protection / Global Warming Prevention Awards.

Going green into the future is a must and will become integral in all aspects of our lives, including the workplace environment. The reason for this is that global warming is a growing concern and a reality and is everyone's responsibility to take action and play a part in reducing the damage
inflicted on our environment.


“Helping businesses to operate in an environmentally friendly manner is one way that Xerox demonstrates a real commitment to sustainability. To achieve this and make it a reality, Xerox dedicates a significant portion of its R&D investments on innovative programs that deliver on measurable results and products that are truly 'green',” comments Dan Smith, the Office Marketing Manager at Xerox Developing Markets Operations.

According to Smith, Xerox has identified four main areas where they want to take a leadership position both in its business and in showing its customers how they can make their businesses more sustainable. These include climate protection and energy, preserving biodiversity and the world’s forests, preserving clean air and water and waste prevention and management.
“We strive to reduce waste in our operations and in the use of our products for our customers as well as for our company. We responsibly manage the disposal of waste by implementing recycling measures,” says Smith. “Xerox has been recognised for its ongoing efforts in protecting the environment on several occasions, including Climate Protection award from the US, EPA and is listed on Dow Jones Sustainability Index and FTSE4Good Index Series which recognises well-respected citizenship practices.”

Green Products Now Available

John Ross, the General Manager for Middle East, India and North East Africa at OKI Printing Solutions is of the opinion that global warming is a serious issue that is topping the political, social and economical agendas. “It’s a global issue that requires collective efforts from governments, enterprises as well as individuals. Understanding the criticality of the issue and its consequences on the coming generations and the earth would lead to the adoption of serious actions and a change in behaviors among the public which should be sustained in order to preserve the earth we live in,” he adds. According to Ross, OKI does not use any hazardous substance as all the company’s equipments are compliant with the EU directive RoHS – Restriction of Hazardous Substances.

Many companies have also started producing eco-friendly products. Samsung Electronics for instance launched two environment-friendly mobile handsets, W510 and F268 at World IT Show in Seoul. The W510 is Samsung's first mobile phone with 'bio-plastic' made from natural material extracted from corns. Samsung claims that it has been making an effort to develop more renewable and eco-friendly material compared with common plastic produced from petroleum.
Moreover, when producing W510, Samsung did not use any heavy metals, such as Lead, Mercury, and Cadmium, and applied water-soluble coating. Samsung’s F268 with all the accessories including charger and headset does not contain BFRs (Brominated Flame Retardant) or PVC.

In addition, Samsung F268 has an alarm function to encourage users to unplug their charger when the devices are fully charged. The product also is following the Energy Star requirements as well, which is strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.
“Samsung is striving to continue to be a strong corporate citizen that contributes to environmental sustainability," says Geesung Choi, the President of Samsung’s Telecommunication Business. “Now we are trying not only to launch more environmentally-conscious products with more renewable material and less energy consuming, but also to expand proactively set up a phone recycling system"

According to power management company APC, it is aware of the effects of climate change and green is really the subject of the moment. A spokesperson from APC claims that green IT is not a marketing gimmick as there are real cost savings and efficiencies to be gained. APC adds that large IT organisations can reap direct and significant value by going green.

The company also says that the data centre is where CIOs (Chief Information Officers) can get quick wins, because 40 to 50 percent of power consumption in an organisation can be attributed to IT. The company had recently launched its new AP7856 metered rack PDU that addresses the need of customers who struggle to provide adequate power while maintaining space or cable management and access to removable blade components. The AP7856 according to APC is the first and only vertical mount Zero-U rack PDU available that permits full access to HP c-class blade hot-swap components when installed in a typical 600mm enclosure.

HP’s Compaq dc5800 Business PC meanwhile provides power and flexibility as well as a variety of environmental features that allows it to meet the most stringent environmental requirements of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Gold registry. According to HP, it currently tops the industry in the number of Gold-listed products in the EPEAT registry, which helps businesses evaluate, compare and select technology products based on their environmental attributes, such as meeting the US Environmental Protection Agency’s latest ENERGY STAR energy efficiency requirements.
“HP’s ongoing efforts to design for the environment has spanned decades,” says Louay Helaby, the Business Desktops Category Manager at HP Middle East. “HP leverages the expertise built from this long-standing commitment to continually develop smart ideas for its desktop and other product lines that can help business customers not only be more productive, but also reduce both operating costs and their effect on the environment.”

Genius meanwhile sells the Slimstar 820 Solargizer a keyboard that uses solar energy to power itself, rather than using the batteries. “It is an innovative product as it does not require batteries to operate the keyboard. It helps to provide a less-polluted environment caused by disposal of batteries. In a year, millions of batteries are discarded, thus causing severe damage to our health and to the environment. Furthermore, the mouse that comes with the keyboard features an innovative power saving technology to provide an extended battery life of up to 15 months, thus saving money on frequent purchase of batteries,” explains Bijoy Thomas, the Marketing Manager at Genius Computer Technology Ltd.

According to Bittu Mattam, the Product Manager for Laser Printers at Canon Middle East, many ‘green’ products in fact work out to be cheaper in the long run and this is an important message that needs to be communicated to both consumers and businesses. “We need to substantiate and prove to customers that environmentally responsible technology can help save them costs,” adds Mattam. “This could be through energy saving which in the life of the product, negates the price advantage non-green products enjoy in the beginning while contributing to environmental safety. For instance our i-SENSYS laser printers offer a 75 percent reduction in power consumption compared to devices with conventional roller-fixing systems”

Motherboard and graphics card manufacturer Gigabyte meanwhile has launched its latest range of motherboards featuring an advanced proprietary software design called Gigabyte Easy Energy Saver. The application allows users to adjust CPU power depending on workload, delivering just the right amount of power needed for a particular computing task. The new technology is coupled with Intel's highly efficient 45nm CPUs, thus providing exceptional levels of power savings and enhanced power efficiency without sacrificing computing performance.

“One click of the Easy Energy Saver button and users are able to instantly take advantage of power savings, without a confusing setup or complicated calibration processes,” explains Tim Handley, the Sales Manager of Gigabyte United Asia Sales Division. “Not only can users see real-time CPU power consumption in Watts, but once Easy Energy Saver is enabled, users can see how much power they are actually saving. Users can also enjoy energy savings in Stealth Mode, by turning off the Easy Energy Savings User Interface. With its intelligent Click and Forget design, users only have to select their preferred energy saving settings once. After that, they can completely turn off the Easy Energy Saver utility, helping to minimise CPU resources while still enjoying power savings benefits.”

Local Initiatives is Key
Taking cue from initiatives on eco-friendliness by companies and organisations from around the globe, many companies in Middle East and Africa have started local initiatives to lower the impact on the environment. Dubai Internet City for instance, has joined hands with Dubai Media City and Energy and Environment Park (ENPARK), members of TECOM Investments, to raise awareness on recycling as a sustainable solution to alleviate pollution in the UAE. The initiative is part of Dubai Internet City’s recently launched corporate social responsibility programme, in coordination with the Radisson SAS Hotel. Dubai Internet City will collect and recycle waste material from 32 bins located throughout TECOM’s free zone clusters.

The proceeds from this initiative, which will be conducted with the support of Union Paper Mills, will be donated to the Dubai Autism Centre, a non-profit organisation that serves children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dubai Internet City also recently installed solar power street lights in the zone as an initiative to encourage sustainable energy and environmental protection in the region. Other TECOM Investments’ entities have also launched similar initiatives to protect the environment. Dubai Media City has set up a permanent recycling centre behind DMC Building No.3, while the Dubai Knowledge Village has installed the region’s first-ever solar power tracking device to utilise renewable energy sources.

“Lately we have been participating in a massive recycling drive, organised by Dubai Internet City, a member of TECOM. We donated our old desktop PCs, printers and laptops to worthy causes. Through the promotion of our new Green Ethernet products, we are constantly increasing the awareness among the various target groups of business, consumer and special interest magazines,” explains Meier. “When it comes to re-using our products, D-Link participates in the Returned Merchandise Authorisation (RMA), a programme that converts returned merchandise into products that can be resold and reused. Possible actions in this respect could include the trade-in of used D-Link products, where – during a limited period of time – customers can receive a certain amount off each qualifying product when they retire their existing products and ‘trade-up’ to select D-Link products.”

According to an IPSOS survey commissioned by printer manufacturer Lexmark, printing is an enterprise-critical process, but can be one of the biggest contributors of waste in the business. The report claims that on an average, a European employee still prints out 31 pages per day. Also, 51 percnet of companies in Europe do not have an environmental working policy, while 61 percent of people say they waste the same, or more, paper than they did two years ago. “Lexmark is committed to help businesses become greener and reduce their printing costs through a wide range of high-performance, eco-friendly and optimised output solutions,” explains Fran├žois Feuillet, the General Manager at Lexmark International Middle East.

Feuillet also claims that Lexmark’s unique commitment to the environment starts with the end of life of its products. “We are committed that 100 percent of our products and cartridges are reused and recycled. We do also commit to a zero landfill policy and zero incineration of our collected products. As such, we have not yet found a recycler in the region that can fit our stringent recycling policy. This is why we transport our waste back by boat and multimodal transportation back to our recycling facility in the Netherlands. Once proper recycling solutions are available, we will be fully committed to maintain the recycling of waste as close as possible to our customers' place.”

Murthy adds that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business issue and the license to operate in the 21st century. “As a leading global PC brand, accordingly, this is what Acer’s integrated CSR strategy is based upon. Following Acer’s inaugural year of sustainable development in 2006, we have comprehensively and thoroughly reviewed our actions for sustainable development. By means of integrating and embedding CSR into our business operation and participating proactively the global CSR initiatives, we have demonstrated Acer’s commitments and determination for CSR. An attempt was also made to contribute continuously to the global sustainable development,” he adds.

Viewsonic meanwhile believes that a green approach to its products is not only beneficial to the environment but to its customers as well. “High performing, environmentally friendly products not only deliver the performance users need, but through power conservation and eco-friendly features, customers will use less energy, lowering their overall costs and their total cost of ownership,” says <> at Viesonic. “All Viewsonic LCD monitors are ENERGY STAR certified and a large percentage of our display line is EPEAT Silver certified. In addition, a large percentage of our products are also RoHS compliant, which bans more than agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants. We also adhere to MPR-II standards in response to health concerns about electromagnetic fields given off by monitors.”

How Do We Stay Green?

According to Ashish Panjabi, the Chief Operating Officer at Jacky’s Electronics, the first factor is education. He says that companies need to be aware that most people are still ignorant when it comes to matters regarding the environment in this part of the world. “Secondly, we need to have facilities for staying green. There is a real lack of recycling facilities in this region – be it for paper, plastic, bottles, batteries or any other product that can be re-used. Thirdly, we need to have some level of standardisation. For these standards to exist, a consolidated effort of the governments in the region is required as implementation is difficult in isolation. This means that in the United Arab Emirates for instance, something has to be agreed upon federally instead of at an Emirate by Emirate level. The ideal option would be for something at the GCC level to be implemented such as that in the automobile industry where companies have GCC specifications for imports of all vehicles into the region,” he claims.

Asus claims that it applies and supports product recycling in many regions. For instance, on Earth Day 2008 (22nd April), Asus and Intel, together with 3C retailer Tsann Kuen Enterprise, announced plans for a collaboration to help the environment through a "PC Recycling for a Brighter Future" programme. This was to show how the IT industry has taken the initiative to work together for collection and recycling of old laptops, PCs and LCD monitors in a bid to help the environment. “In the ‘PC Recycling for a Brighter Future’ programme, consumers were encouraged to recycle their older devices at dedicated drop-off points, such as Asus Royal Clubs, Tsann Kuen 3C chain stores and DF Recycle – where a discount voucher was issued for each unit of desktop computer, laptop computer or CRT/LCD monitor handed in,” explains Marvis Hsiao, the Sales Director at Asus Middle East.

Kyocera meanwhile publishes an annual Sustainability Report on its website to disclose information on environmental preservation and social contribution activities. Since 2004, Kyocera has been hosting Sustainability Report Meetings in Japan to promote dialogue with local constituent communities. “These sessions include reports on the business, social and environmental activities of the Kyocera Group; facility tours; and open discussion,” explains Takuya Marubayashi, the Manager of the Middle East and Africa Department at Kyocera Mita Europe BV. “In addition, on a more practical level, our employees are constantly reminded and encouraged to print sensibly, use double-sided printing as much as possible, re-use paper for internal draft printing when printing single-sidedly, use (network) colour scanning for electronic distribution and archiving of documents, use water sparingly, activate the energy-saving mode on printers, copiers and MFPs and switch off lights and equipment (PCs and peripherals) when leaving the office.”

Recycling firms are the need of the hour. These companies take technology products from companies and collection points, using the still-voluntary environmental management system set forth by the International Organisation for Standardisation under the ISO 14001 guidelines, and breaks them down into their basic components and reusable materials. Such companied don’t burn or bury anything in landfills – instead, they reclaim materials for reuse, from plastic scrap (for use in wood-plastic composite lumber) to refined precious metals (for making new electronics). Computers are the easiest tech items to break down into reusable materials, whereas monitors and televisions have the lowest recycling values.

Global warming and its consequences are very real. However, with growing awareness, governmental regulations and good corporate denizens the world over, the momentum is growing. “As a good corporate denizen, Brother has long ago formulated its environmental friendly policies. These are simple to understand and are being applied rigorously. Simply put there are the 5 R's. These are Recycle, Refuse, Reuse, Reform, and Reduce,” comments Ranjit S. Gurkar, the General Manager at Brother Gulf. “Green ideas are everywhere. However, to sustain it in the long run, one has to make changes in one's lifestyle and attitude. The reuse of material has to become automatic, be it a plastic bag, or an envelope. Bio- degradable materials in manufacturing has to be the first choice whenever possible. Further, it has to be an integral part of primary school education. In addition, new ideas must be welcomed, recognised, rewarded, shared beyond national borders and implemented.”

Also, we need to be more aggressive and realistic. The next global environmental treaty should set standards for manufacturing, product life spans, power consumption, and recycling. We need a long-term alternative to shipping garbage from one place to another. And we must cut back our consumption drastically. Does that mean enacting laws against heating above 70 degrees and air conditioning below 70? Maybe. It also means that each of us needs to think about our carbon footprint holistically. It's not just about our cars, heating systems, and AC. It's the products in our hands, in our pockets, on our desktops, and right in front of us.


Copyright © 2007 Dabbagh Information Technology. All Rights Reserved.

2 comments:

Colin said...

Thanks so much for detailing not just what has gone wrong, but what we are doing to fix it. I like the section about education and responsibility. But I think it goes further than just corporate or government. It starts in every home.

Cheers,
Colin
http://current.pic.tv/2008/08/20/reusable-energy/

kwolph said...

Sharp has also started an environmental conscious effort to improve the production of their products in addition to the products themselves: http://sharpgreen.smnr.us/.

I work on half of Sharp and it is my hope that soon enough most companies will not think twice about improve their products through alternative energy sources and looking internally for improvements as well.

I definitely got excited about the alarm function on the cell phone an look forward to hearing more about this in the near future. A very simple solution that is a huge pet peev of mine.

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