From sustainable energy sources to adopting alternative resources, it can help adopt economic, environmental practices
Natural resources are depleting at an alarming rate and it has become crucial for corporations to follow sustainability models to conduct their daily operations. Technology will help with the way forward for sustainable solutions.
Global material usage will double from 92 million tonnes to 196 million tonnes and greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 43 per cent by 2060, the World Bank has estimated.
The triple bottom line, which comprises people, the planet and profit, has become a significant talking point among organisations.
Read more: Sustainability is not as new an idea as you might think—It’s more than 300 years old
The applications of sustainability are cut across industries. Manufacturing, oil and gas, shipping, agriculture, mining, consumer packaged goods and infrastructure development industries are leading the way by making significant use of digital technologies to monitor and implement sustainable solutions.
A combination of these technologies is helping reduce businesses’ carbon footprint significantly and optimising the use of natural resources.
A research report by multinational technology company Cyient, in collaboration with research firm Everest Group looked into sustainability megatrends.
The report titled Mirror into the Megatrends: Technology-Driven Disruptions that will Define the Decade mentioned some areas where technology can play a key role in enabling sustainability in businesses. Big corporations to small and mid-sized businesses can invest in tech in these areas.
Alternative energy sources:
Reduction in carbon footprint:
Green manufacturing and alternate materials:
Sustainability projects in the future will be driven by a balance between technology and the environment.
Three key aspects of these projects will be 3 R’s: 1) “Reduce” wastage and emissions; 2)“Recycle” available resources and leverage improved designs and packaging; finally 3) “Reuse” as much as possible by leveraging renewable energy sources, etc.
Read more: Half the national curricula worldwide don’t mention climate change, most teachers unsure of explaining subject: UNESCO
The trade-off between technological advances and optimised use of materials and energy will be a key focus area going forward; a few prominent business organisations are already shifting their focus to green data centres and more sustainable cloud computing.
Overall, businesses should re-design their supply chains and adopt economic and environmental practices, ranging from using sustainable energy sources to adopting alternative resources.
Advanced data analytics, cobots and robots, mixed reality technologies and digital twins and threads will facilitate increased traceability and circular and green supply chains.
The need for reusable or green energy sources is increasing significantly owing to adoption to meet carbon reduction goals. This will continue to increase and we will see many more green energy sources being industrialised.
Technology will have a major role to play for businesses in the adoption of sustainability.
Advances in digital technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality, coupled with the demand for improved connectivity and real-time insights will help customers adopt sustainable businesses and monitor them regularly.
It will be very important to report your sustainability index and be compliant with government regulations.
In the mining industry, for example, data analytics is used for precision mining, electric and autonomous vehicles help reduce pollution and green mining practices such as automated drilling reduce the environmental impact of mining activities.
The real-time management of production processes based on edge analytics and robotics will likely witness increased adoption.
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While business organisations today are primarily interested in collecting data and monitoring trends, the future will be about automating responses such that carbon footprint and water wastage are managed automatically on a real-time basis.
A new role — a chief sustainability officer — will chart their sustainability journeys.
This decade will see more such structural changes in organisations, with environmental, social and corporate governance considerations emerging as vital parameters even for small and mid-sized businesses.
Technology is becoming crucial for businesses in furthering their sustainability movement. Many businesses can utilise such technologies to reduce the impact on the natural world.
These technologies will definitely play a key role and evolve much better in the next decade to make the world a better place to live for future generations.
Rajaneesh Kini is the chief technology officer of Cyient Ltd, India.
Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth.
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