Climate change and environmental issues garnered significant attention in 2019. With environmental protestors mobilised globally, the environmental agenda seem to be more in the public consciousness than ever before.

We care about the environment at Expand. We’ve reduced our single use plastics, increased recycling, and don’t travel unnecessarily. Based in Brighton, where the UK’s first and only Green MP has just been re-elected, it’s hard to miss the growing concern about humanity’s impact on the planet.

Serving clients within the technology space, we’re always mindful of the part the tech industry plays in environmental issues, and it’s undeniable that technology has a carbon footprint. Data centres, for example, account for more than 7% of the world’s electricity usage, and are growing exponentially in line with our ballooning demand for data. Companies from consumer electronics to e-commerce have been criticised by environmental campaigners for relying on business models based on unsustainable, excessive consumption. Take smartphones; devices are replaced every 2-3 years. Their constant production has a high emissions cost, as well as creating huge amounts of electronics waste. (85-95% of a smartphone’s emissions comes from manufacturing: if you want to be green, replace your battery rather than your handset next time you’re due an upgrade).

But this doesn’t tell the whole story. Tech companies are some of the largest consumers of renewables globally, and many larger players have dedicated significant resource to building sustainable data centres. Google is using cold seawater to cool their data centre in Finland, and Apple has hit almost 100% renewable energy for it’s data centres.

Many tech companies out there aim to ‘solve’ environmental problems, such as the electric vehicle boom, driven by tech players like Tesla. Fairphone is an example of an ethical smartphone company, and even the big names like HP, Microsoft Dell, Apple and Google, are making good progress towards sustainability, according to Greenpeace.

What do you think? We’re keen to hear from our network here. Are tech companies helping or hindering the environmental agenda? And what role should the industry play in tackling the global climate crisis? Feel free to leave a comment below or contact us to continue the discussion.