Sustainability And The Metaverse: 5 Considerations To Prepare For The Next Big Tech Paradigm Shift

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Climate concerns put sustainability ahead of corporate strategy. Organizations need to think about not only how to manage their business, but also how to do it in a way that has the least impact on our climate. And while sustainable business models are not new, they are evolving to keep up with innovation and adapt to new ways of working.

The prospect of moving physical work, life, and online gaming into the metaverse is exciting. However, this process will inevitably create a huge need for data storage. As companies prepare for Web 3.0 and consider how to do business in combination with advancing technologies, they may find themselves with too many footprints online that can create an incredible one. need for data storage, which can lead to many products and a lot of waste if it is not. done thoughtfully. .

There’s the problem: according to a United Nations estimate, less than a quarter of all U.S. e-waste is recycled and the rest goes to landfills, posing a serious environmental risk. As companies learn how to manage business in the metaverse, the increasing demand for data has the potential to exacerbate the e-waste problem. In addition, as the metaverse becomes more integrated with the real world, businesses will face a challenge: to prepare for the next phase of digitization, along with the associated storage requirements, while maintaining -first to continue.

How can businesses prepare for the metaverse without contributing to environmental waste? It provides an opportunity to examine the continuity of advanced electronics manufacturing, from the perspective of a data storage vendor.

5 continuity lessons to prepare for the next technology paradigm shift

Step 1: Set climate goals

Building a culture of trust and transparency that accelerates progress in relation to sustainability is never more important. The amount of data storage required to grow the metaverse can be detrimental to sustainability objectives, based on the rapid growth required. High consumption of non-renewable energy, waste generation and CO2 emissions are all real barriers to sustainable augmented or virtual reality. Therefore, companies need to commit to sustainable initiatives and agreements that are accountable to their operations and ensure that they act responsibly. For example, the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) is an alliance between the nonprofit CDP, UN Global Compact, World Resources Institute, and World Wide Fund for Nature. Participants in this initiative are committed to combating climate change in line with the latest knowledge in climate science. Companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint can set reduction targets approved by the SBTi.

Step 2: Rethink your physical facilities

Joining the metaverse can mean creating multiple volumes of data, raising the critical question of where to store this data. While higher amounts of data can lead to more powerful data centers being built, more on -premise data centers will be able to move their data to the cloud – reducing the number of physical resources. data center. In addition, major cloud service providers are investing heavily in sustainable energy sources. For example, Google aims to run data centers on completely carbon-free power by 2030, and Microsoft has promised to do so by 2025.

IT-related services, including cloud services, are expected to account for almost 3.5% of global emissions by 2020. All of this brings with it an over-awareness among companies about how to sustain their manufacturing practices.

In addition, in recent years, solar power has evolved from cutting-edge technology to a cost-effective solution for businesses. By investing in solar installations, businesses can generate their own electricity on site using a renewable energy source, less traditional power from the grid and reducing their carbon footprint. In an effort to be more sustainable, companies like Apple and Amazon are retrofitting many facilities with solar, and when combined with other renewable energy sources, these sites now run 100%. renewable energy. .

Step 3: Review the products and how they are made

Many companies are developing product life cycle tests to assess the overall environmental impact due to a system of production, use, and disposal processes. The goal is to track the timeline of a product (production, distribution, use and end of life stages) and ensure full accountability and transparency. Every part of the life cycle of a product – the extraction of materials from the environment, the production of the product, the part of use and what happens to the product after it is no longer used – can have a unique impact on the environment.

Gradually, the storage industry is evolving from traditional local disk storage to also include cloud data storage. As more businesses migrate to the cloud, the data center industry has a chance to become more climate -conscious. Cloud computing leads to lower costs per gigabyte and greater data redundancy, so there are good technical reasons for cloud expansion. As companies strive to promote innovation and accountability, product-level life cycle impact assessments can inform strategies to effectively balance the ongoing benefits of cloud technology.

Step 4: Create a circular economy

Unfortunately, large amounts of e-waste end up in landfills and contaminate soil and groundwater, putting food supply systems and water sources at risk. Proper product disposal can be addressed by implementing recycling programs or by offering consumers the opportunity to recycle their old products. By adopting product recovery programs to help customers recycle old data storage devices, companies can reduce the risks associated with managing hazardous materials. and develop a stronger customer relationship. For example, some companies have recycling programs that allow customers to return old company products for free or drop them off at local freight stores for quick and environmentally friendly disposal, with successful programs. transfer many tons of waste from landfills.

Step 5: Educate and empower your supplier network

Annual sustainability reports also provide an opportunity to be transparent about your company’s sustainability progress, emphasizing accountability (“what gets measured…”). Modern supply chains can be complex and large, and a sustainability strategy that focuses only on internal operations can overlook very important flow effects. This is why supplier engagement on sustainability issues is essential to an effective sustainability program. Offering e-learning programs that offer and training in sustainable business practices-in coordination with organizations such as the Responsible Business Alliance, for example-and participating in joint sustainability initiatives can strengthen relationships and can maximize progress through the matter of sustained progress at the same time.

Looking ahead

The linkages between data storage, e-waste and emissions will continue to affect the market as regulators focus more of their attention on the environmental footprints of companies. Corporate America is at a turning point where companies need to think about how they do business or risk long-term headwinds. So, as companies think about how to do business in a world that requires more data, more storage and more waste generation, we must always make sustainability a priority in the next big revolution in technology. Because the metaverse can be virtual, but if we don’t find ways to reduce our collective footprint, its effects on the environment can be real.

Joshua Parker is Senior Director of Corporate Sustainability and Assistant General Counsel at Western Digital.

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