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How can IT managers support sustainability?

The environment is everyone’s responsibility, so how can IT managers make sure they have an impact on their organisation’s sustainability?

IT managers are in an important position because, through their decisions on procurement and protocols, they can empower just about everyone in a business to work more sustainably.

Acting sustainably provides a commercial advantage, positively influencing both consumer and business decision-making, with the dual benefit of saving money too.

But it takes time to embed business sustainability strategies and it’s something that needs to be worked at every day.

Here are five ways you can help your organisation work more sustainably and reduce its environmental impact:

Sustainable IT procurement

When buying new IT equipment, from printers to laptops, it’s important to consider whether they have been designed and manufactured sustainably.

Buying energy-efficient products can both help the environment and reduce your long-term costs, while supporting your business’ sustainability strategy.

When choosing new equipment, look out for accreditations that prove good standards have been met.

For example, many of our products carry the Blue Angel label, which recognises products that save resources and protect the climate.

In order to carry the label, products undergo a rigorous assessment by an independent Environmental Label Jury, so you can be sure they are high quality with a long service life, low energy usage and minimal impact on indoor air quality.

Recycling requirements should also be taken into consideration when thinking about the production methods used.

Many of our products are also endorsed by Nordic Swan, which means its entire life cycle, from creation to repair, upgrade and disposal, has been approved.

Requirements include low energy consumption in sleep mode, duplex printing to reduce paper consumption and low emissions.

Generally speaking, tech manufacturers are always working to make their offerings more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, so it’s a good idea to keep your kit up to date which is easy to do.

Signing up to a Managed Print Service (MPS) means your existing hardware is upgraded to the highest standard. Other benefits of a good MPS may include old equipment being either recycled or refurbished.

Read our tips on how to find the right managed print partner.

Supplies procurement

You can’t print without paper and ink or toner, but there are ways to ensure that the consumables you buy are as environmentally friendly as possible.

Consider buying recycled or responsibly sourced paper to improve business sustainability.

Recycled paper should be the greenest option, using less energy and water while producing less CO2 and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. It should also carry the chasing-arrows logo. But not all recycled paper is made from 100% recycled fiber – it could be as little as 30% - so check for any small print.

Another option is environmentally responsible paper approved by the Forestry Stewardship Council, which means the paper comes from sustainable forests that are inspected and certified against strict standards that protect wildlife, workers and local communities.

Any paper waste you do produce should obviously be reused or recycled too.

Ink and toner cartridges should also be recycled, so we operate a free return and recycle scheme for all Brother ink and toner cartridges, guaranteeing absolutely nothing goes to landfill.

Printer configuration

When setting up printers to ensure they operate as sustainably as possible, there are three main things to think about: paper, ink or toner and energy.

When it comes to paper, you can halve your consumption straight away simply by using double-sided printing as default.

You can also use FollowMe, a pull printing application, where a document is only printed when the user enters a pin code or swipes an ID card at the printer, helping avoid waste from documents being printed and then forgotten.

Most modern printers can be set up so they go into an energy-saving ‘sleep mode’ when they’re not being used.

A good rule of thumb is that printers should be set up to go into ‘sleep mode’ if they haven’t been used for 15 minutes.

But even ‘sleep mode’ uses some energy, so make sure printers are switched off completely overnight and at weekends, or consider installing a timer switch to the plug socket so IT is automatically shut down.

Remote working

It’s difficult to overstate the wide-ranging benefits that remote working can achieve.

As well as evidence that it can boost productivity, wellbeing and happiness, it can also make a significant contribution to sustainable ways of working.

The World Health Organisation says road transport is responsible for up to 30% of air pollution particles in European cities, which can cause early death through cancer as well as heart and lung diseases.

By opting out of the commute altogether, one study found that workers can reduce their transportation-related carbon emissions by about 69%.

That might not always be possible, but technologies like broadband internet, cloud computing and video conferencing mean that many workers can now be just as productive at home as they can in the workplace.

And, since 2016, employees have had a legal right to request flexible working, including home working for part or all of the time, so firms must be able to comply.

Use the cloud

Modern offices often rely on bulky, expensive and power-hungry in-house servers.

But when servers are consolidated in the cloud instead, it should mean a reduction in overall energy use and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

In-house servers use significant amounts of energy in themselves, and also need air conditioning to keep them cool and equipment to control humidity if they are to perform at their best.

All this means switching to the cloud can cut your energy bills without any impact on processing power.

Sharing best practice

Everyone can play their part in reducing the amount of paper, electricity and print consumables you use.

For a truly joined-up sustainability strategy, it’s important to engage the whole workforce.

That can be by raising awareness, setting goals – and celebrating when they are achieved.

Measuring and communicating progress against sustainability measures can keep sustainability at the front of people’s minds.

With a monitoring system in place as part of your MPS package, you can track levels of print use, so you can quantify your paper saving efforts, for example.

Cartridge collection and recycling can be included in the service too, with regular updates available detailing how much waste has been diverted from landfill.

Signage can be a useful tool, prompting simple actions - like putting waste paper in a recycling bin and switching off devices at the end of the day – that together can have a big effect.

But to really engage with colleagues it’s vital to incorporate their views into your strategy, so ask them for their ideas too.

You never know where the next bright idea may come from!

Find out more about how Brother can support your sustainable business practices.

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