Circular Economy Concept Gains Momentum in 2023 at IT Sustainability Think Tank

During 2023, the climate crisis became an urgent reality with a significant impact on our planet and lives. As a result, there was a heightened focus on corporate emissions as part of a global effort to decarbonize the economy. In particular, attention was given to end-point devices in enterprises, which were recognized as significant contributors to carbon emissions. Therefore, IT sustainability and green tech solutions remained in the spotlight throughout the year.

Implementing a sustainable tech strategy that aligns digitalization with Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) commitments is no longer a luxury but a regulatory requirement and a strategic necessity for businesses. Such a strategy offers benefits in terms of operational, financial, and environmental resilience. However, despite the recognition of the importance of technology in achieving sustainability goals, only a small percentage of executives have included it in their ESG strategies, according to Accenture.

Gartner analysts have warned that IT-related greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase by about 30% each year. Despite years of discussion about the importance of tackling climate change, there is a lack of progress in making sustainable IT a reality. As 2023 comes to an end, it provides an opportunity for business leaders to reflect, reassess, and recalibrate their approach.

One notable shift during the year was the increasing commitment and practical implementation of the circular economy in various organizations. The World Circular Economy Forum in June brought together government officials, industry leaders, and academics to discuss how to make the circular economy a reality. During the event, practical solutions to aid the transition to circular practices were shared, emphasizing the need to turn circularity into an operational and financial advantage.

The circular economy gained significant attention in 2023, not only among sector-specific companies but also among global institutions like The World Bank and The White House. Conversations among IT leaders have shifted towards practical implementation and finding solutions that work for businesses at different stages of their journey towards circularity.

In a year dominated by economic concerns and investment prioritization, tech sustainability has not become an afterthought. Businesses have realized that funding ESG-related initiatives and investments can positively impact their bottom line. According to a Capgemini Survey, companies that have implemented sustainable IT use cases have achieved an average cost reduction of 12%. This highlights the potential for sustainability to enhance efficiency, particularly considering the critical role of technology in business growth.

Regulation has played a significant role in driving the focus on sustainability. In 2023, there was increased scrutiny of greenwashing and carbon offsetting, and reporting requirements for ESG intensified. New EU directives, set to take effect between 2024 and 2026, will make resource use and circular economy performance mandatory topics for disclosure. This will require companies to take action to mitigate environmental and human rights harm throughout their value chain, further emphasizing the value and necessity of circular economy principles.

Overall, while change takes time, there are positive signs for the future. Businesses are actively engaging in discussions on becoming more circular, and manufacturers and partners are interested in collaborating to offer efficient circular solutions. While enterprises have been slow to adopt the circular economy for technology and other areas of business, companies are now on the right track to make sustainable tech a non-negotiable part of their future.

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