A Holistic Approach to Environmental Responsibility

Claudia Contreras

Executive Director of Global Sustainability Services at Lenovo

In a bold commitment to combat climate change, Lenovo has set its sights on achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Guided by science-based targets validated through the rigorous standards of the Science Based Targets initiative’s Net Zero Standard, the company is poised to revolutionize the tech industry’s approach to sustainability. With a focus on proven technology services and innovative models like the pay-as-you-go approach, Lenovo aims to provide businesses with flexible and scalable solutions that drive both ecological impact and sustainability advancements

CIO World Asia spoke with Claudia Contreras, the Executive Director of Global Sustainability Services at Lenovo, whose expertise offers valuable insights into the interconnected relationship between scalable technology investment and environmental responsibility. Therefore, we explore Lenovo’s commitment to achieving a net-zero future and the transformative power of leveraging the right tech solutions to drive sustainable innovations.

Lenovo’s Sustainable Solution

Every company finds itself in a unique situation, and one such example is a company based in Peru. With the rise of remote work, enabling every employee with the necessary tools became a priority. Lenovo recognized this need and conducted a comprehensive assessment to determine the specific requirements of the company. This assessment included evaluating the power consumption of the devices to determine if more powerful machines were necessary.

Moreover, Lenovo explored different usage models to efficiently manage and dispose of the old assets of the business that they were helping. They implemented a program to take back old products, which not only helped the company gain some cash but also ensured the responsible disposal of electronic waste. Lenovo then deployed new assets to the company, adopting bulk packaging instead of individual packaging for a more sustainable approach.

“It’s often the simple things,” Claudia added, “taking the time to assess the customer’s needs and finding ways to enhance efficiency, as everything related to waste goes against sustainability. It doesn’t always have to be groundbreaking; it’s about paying attention to the details, seeking opportunities to streamline processes, and delivering products that fulfill their demand.”

Key Trends of Sustainability 

Three years ago, sustainability was not as popular as it is today, with many people dismissing its importance. However, the current trends in consumption and usage, such as the rise of services like Uber where ownership is no longer necessary, have highlighted the significance of sustainability. In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, questions arise regarding the need to constantly purchase new devices to keep up and how to ensure productivity without owning everything.

Usage models play a crucial role in bringing predictability to asset management. For instance, let’s consider a scenario where a machine is being used in an organization, but an employee leaves without a designated usage model. In such cases, the machine might end up stored away in a closet, uncertain if it will ever be utilized again. Many companies have electronic equipment lying around in drawers, unused but with a usage model in place, there is an incentive to return unused items. This will also eliminate waste and allow the company, as the original creator of the product, to refurbish and reintroduce them into operation. This approach promotes the second trend of a circular economy.

The growing emphasis on usage models and the circular economy reflects the evolving understanding and commitment to sustainability in today’s world. By adopting these approaches, businesses can optimize resource utilization, minimize waste, and contribute to a more sustainable future.

What Has Prompted The Sudden Emergence of Sustainability?

The recent surge in sustainability awareness may appear sudden, but it has been an ongoing topic of discussion for quite some time. While movements and initiatives focused on sustainability have always existed, Europe has been at the forefront, actively working on regulatory measures. It would be dismissive to overlook these efforts. However, a key catalyst for the current momentum can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The global scale and impact of the pandemic forced everyone to confront a common problem that transcended borders and boundaries. Climate action, much like addressing the pandemic, required a global response. No single country or entity could solve it in isolation. 

Concurrently, there has been a notable shift in consciousness among leaders, particularly among millennials and Gen Z individuals, who have grown up with a heightened awareness of environmental concerns. These emerging leaders are now assuming positions of influence and gravitate towards organizations that align with their values as employees consider their career choices, they seek out companies that prioritize sustainability. 

If these factors alone weren’t convincing enough, regulatory developments have further compelled organizations to act. Numerous countries, including France, have implemented directives and laws to combat waste and promote sustainable practices. Singapore has implemented carbon footprint taxes as part of its environmental initiatives. This regulatory landscape reinforces the urgency for businesses to prioritize sustainability.

Lenovo’s Transformative Role and Holistic Approach to Environmental Responsibility

Lenovo plays a pivotal role in driving sustainability. With a global presence in 180 markets and a staggering production rate of approximately one device every 16.58 seconds, their commitment to incremental improvements carries significant weight. By reducing energy consumption during production and enhancing device efficiency, Lenovo has the potential to make a substantial impact.

While individual efforts like recycling and composting hold importance, their influence pales in comparison to the transformative power of corporate responsibility. Lenovo, as a large corporation, recognizes this responsibility and understands that its actions reverberate throughout the entire supply chain. Collaboration with upstream and downstream partners is necessary to effect meaningful change and extend their reach beyond their facilities.

Central to Lenovo’s approach is the establishment of meaningful partnerships. The Lenovo 360 Circle, an alliance comprising channel partners, distributors, and corporations, collectively pursues shared sustainability goals. This community is dedicated to driving environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, fostering a collective commitment to change. Lenovo acknowledges that these goals cannot be achieved single-handedly; collaboration with suppliers, customers, and stakeholders at all levels is paramount.

Lenovo’s commitment to sustainability goes beyond its operations, aiming to inspire others and generate a multiplier effect. They believe the greatest impact is achieved when sustainability becomes a shared objective embraced by all parties involved. Moving forward, a comprehensive and inclusive approach is crucial.

In terms of integrating sustainability into product design, Lenovo places paramount importance on design from the outset. Incorporating closed-loop post-consumer recycled plastics and other sustainable materials is a key aspect of their commitment to the circular economy. Extensive research and development efforts focus on testing and incorporating post-consumer content to support true circularity. Sustainable materials like vegan leather, recycled aluminum, bamboo, and sugar cane are prioritized in packaging.

Designing devices that incorporate these materials while maintaining quality and longevity presents unique challenges. Nevertheless, Lenovo invests significantly in research, development, and engineering to ensure that the integration of sustainable materials does not compromise product durability or performance. They aim to create devices with extended lifespans, consuming less energy and facilitating repairs when necessary. Additionally, Lenovo’s asset recovery program ensures responsible disposal of devices, promoting reuse, component reutilization, and recycling as a last resort.

By adopting a holistic approach to sustainability, Lenovo empowers customers to recognize the durability and environmental responsibility of their products. For instance, the ThinkPad Z series boasts an impressive 95% recycled content and incorporates vegan leather, among other sustainable attributes. Lenovo eagerly shares data points and facts that demonstrate the tangible impact of its sustainability efforts, highlighting how its choices contribute to a greener future.

The Roles of CIOs When It Comes to Sustainability.

In today’s corporate landscape, sustainability is a paramount concern for both individuals and corporations. Claudia emphasizes responsible decision-making and conscientious procurement practices.

CIOs, with their focus on technology and its transformative impact, hold a key position in driving sustainability. They must consider broader implications when selecting suppliers, prioritizing sustainable options to ensure responsible production and minimize waste. Claudia highlights usage models as a solution that allows CIOs to balance sustainability and productivity. By entrusting technology upkeep to experts like Lenovo, they can focus on essential requirements without upfront capital outlays.

Sustainability is a collective effort involving every employee in an organization. Claudia stresses the importance of strategic decisions that align with long-term goals and benefit the planet, society, and employee satisfaction. As a mother, Claudia’s passion for sustainability stems from securing a better future for the next generation. Each of us bears the responsibility to act, whether within corporations or as individuals.

Claudia’s insights reveal the profound impact of embracing sustainability as a core value. Through responsible decision-making, corporations become catalysts for positive change and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.