Johannesburg, 20 Nov 2023
The move to hybrid workplaces may have complicated business efforts to be more sustainable, but using the right technologies and adapting certain document management processes can help organisations support their environmental, social and governance (ESG) programmes.
This is according to Jaco Möller, Workspace Business Development Manager at Canon South Africa, who says South African businesses are aligning with global moves to be more sustainable.
Deloitte’s annual survey of more than 2 000 C-level leaders from around the world found that 75% of respondents’ organisations had increased their investments in corporate sustainability initiatives over the past year. Möller says he sees more of a focus on sustainability in local businesses of all sizes: “Most of the major enterprises have been ‘green-focused’ for years, but now we see smaller and mid-sized businesses trying to reduce their carbon footprints and be more sustainable too,” he says.
“When we bring lower energy consumption and green initiatives into the discussion with customers, we typically find this is one of their major priorities. In the printing environment, most customers are keen to reduce print volumes and energy consumption,” he says. The fact that Canon is addressing sustainability across the board – from its manufacturing processes through to the longevity of devices and how they are recycled – makes the brand even more compelling, he says.
Canon’s Kyosei sustainability focus
Canon is working to reduce CO2 emissions at all stages of the product life cycle, in line with its corporate philosophy – Kyosei. Kyosei is a commitment to creating a society in which all people, regardless of race, religion or culture, live and work together harmoniously for the common good. Since 2008, Canon has been working to achieve an annual average improvement of 3% in life cycle CO2 emissions per product and has achieved a cumulative improvement of 43% in the life cycle of products from development to recycling through energy and resource conservation and streamlining of distribution.
Canon has stepped up energy-saving activities at operational sites, designed more compact, lightweight products, reduced waste generation and increased internal recycling. It is also remanufacturing products, recycling consumables and using sustainable water resources.
By 2030, Canon aims to reduce emissions by 50% from the 2008 baseline, and to cut its CO2 emissions across product life cycles to net zero by 2050.
“Canon printers and scanners have some of the lowest energy consumption in the world, with innovative approaches to reduce energy consumption yet further. For example, Canon has created an innovative toner with a lower melting point, which reduces energy consumption. Our advanced devices save power by remaining in sleep mode, but are print-ready in under four seconds once activated,” Möller says.
“Local customers appreciate the reduced energy consumption, and many are starting to look at reducing print volumes too. This is where our print management and Canon imageRUNNER ADVANCE DX (digital transformation) range comes in. It reduces the requirement for printing and helps drive digital transformation.”
Challenges to sustainability
However, many of them face challenges in operating more sustainably. Möller says these include potential costs and disruption involved with changing processes and technologies. “A big change that has impacted sustainability programmes has been the move to hybrid work,” he says.
There are sustainability pros and cons to remote work, Möller notes. “When people work from home, commuting and transport emissions are reduced. On overall energy consumption, you might have a saving at the office, but power consumption goes up at home – so there is an offset.”
With many employees working from home some days of the week, more printers and devices have been deployed out of the office.
He says: “If these are not properly managed, fleets of home office printers could generate significant increases in print volumes and e-waste. At a well-run office, there are usually eco-friendly approaches to toner and e-waste disposal, whereas people working from home might just dispose of these in the rubbish. Organisations need to monitor and manage that with print management and procedures for proper disposal of e-waste.”
Canon moves to support sustainability
Möller says Canon’s approaches to help customers be more sustainable include developing environmentally friendly products and helping to optimise business processes to be more sustainable. “For example, instead of printing out a document to sign it, we enable digital signatures. Our print management solution can help avoid waste and unnecessary printing of documents across the organisation’s fleet of devices at the office and in staff homes. Organisations can implement policies and track print volumes and types of documents being printed to reduce waste and misuse,” he says.
Another sustainability benefit is longer-lasting components that reduce the need for technicians to travel around, to replace them. “Our i-SENSYS devices for small offices also have a print volume lifespan, which eliminates the need to send a technician to someone’s home. The devices are compatible with our print management software, thus making it ideal for home office environments.”
Möller says sustainable workplace challenges can be overcome with commitment and having a clear goal in mind. “Organisations can start small and grow their sustainability programmes, with proper project management and change management to achieve staff buy-in,” he says.
Canon’s efforts to achieve net zero and help global businesses become more sustainable resonate with companies and individuals alike, says Möller. “As the father of young kids, it’s very important to me personally that everyone plays a part in saving the environment, or at least tries to reduce their impact. I’m very proud to be a part of an organisation like Canon, which has sustainability at the heart of everything it does.”