Conversations about environmental responsibility have seen a resurgence recently, with campaigners drawing attention to the proliferation of single-use plastic drinks straws and coffee cups; the UK is planning to ban these use-once items as soon as next year.
World Environment Day is designed to highlight and amplify those conversations and has been running since 1974, with a special theme each year. It’s fitting, then, that the theme this year is ‘beat plastic pollution’ with the tagline: if you can’t reuse it, refuse it.
The UK has been successful so far in banning or imposing charges on certain types of plastic; plastic microbeads are now prohibited, and the infamous 5p+ charge on plastic carrier bags has seen a 90% reduction in single-use bags.
It’s not just consumers that have an environmental responsibility; businesses produce over 40 million tonnes of waste each year (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). It is our responsibility to dispose of that waste ethically or, where possible, recycle or upcycle.
As a technology business, TSG and our customers produce electrical waste, which can be more difficult to dispose of or recycle. Where possible, we upcycle technology; for example, if a colleague leaves, their laptop – all TSG staff use laptops – is refurbished and given to another employee.
Sometimes we have surplus stock, but rather than disposing of it, we look at other ways of upcycling. In recent years, we’ve donated refurbished laptops to local mental health charity ReCoCo. Our Purchasing Team Leader Colin Downer said of the donation: “we’re delighted to be donating these laptops to such a worthwhile cause. We know throwing things like this away is wasteful when they could be recycled, and we’re dedicated to supporting local charities. ReCoCo does fantastic work in the community and we know these laptops will be put to good use.”
Last year, we donated refurbished laptops to VODA, a volunteer centre in North Tyneside, to help with its SAINT (Social Action in North Tyneside) project which supports people facing barriers such as homelessness and physical and mental health problems. A lack of access to IT equipment was a real barrier in supporting these vulnerable groups, so we were delighted to assist.
Looking after the environment doesn’t just stop at recycling, however. As a business at the forefront of digital transformation, TSG has implemented technologies that cut down on travel and thus, harmful fuel pollution.
Technologies including Office 365 allow more than a third of our workforce to work from home thanks to apps like Skype for Business, which includes PTSN calling, video conferencing and instant messaging. Using Skype for Business internally means TSG colleagues don’t need to be in the same office to collaborate.
Our partner Gamma’s hosted telephony solution means TSG staff can communicate with customers wherever they are; by tethering their desk phone number to their mobile, they can take calls with no disruption to the customer.
When it comes to environmental policies, it’s more than just recycling paper or choosing more sustainable plastics – although all of these actions mean a less polluted planet. Technology is often viewed negatively because of power usage, but why not think about ways in which technology can help you cut down on waste – whether that’s physical wastage or pollution – on World Environment Day 2018?