Epson UK’s Sustainability Manager, Daniel Quelch

Where the grass is greener

Epson is working together with the channel to commercialise sustainability, offering tangible business growth opportunities that are driven by sustainable technology solutions without compromising their customers on cost or productivity. Epson UK’s Sustainability Manager, Daniel Quelch explains more.

Epson products and services are developed by Epson, in Epson owned award winning manufacturing sites using Epson technology, therefore is addressing sustainability at every stage of the product lifecycle, from design and manufacturing to transport, usage and recycling. As all of Epson’s business sales are conducted through the channel, our partners are at the forefront of bringing sustainable solutions to end-users. And as a key part of Epson’s business model, it is actively securing end-user sales opportunities before they are then secured and cultivated by the channel, which is helping Epson to further advocate sustainability through the channel to a wider audience. And thanks to the eco-consciousness of Epson technology solutions, the sales message our channel partners are delivering to their end customers is increasing sustainability awareness and discussions.

Through its sustainability team, Epson also takes great responsibility in educating its channel partners on how they can reduce their environmental impact, from ISO compliance and circularity to general best practice in environmental and social governance (ESG). It is for this reason that Epson has been accredited with platinum awards both from EcoVadis and the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA).

Every company is responsible for addressing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and ESG in a similar fashion that every person is responsible for their own individual impacts to the environment. There’s no tiptoeing around ESG and if companies are truly willing to make a demonstrable interest then it needs to be addressed from the very heart of the business.

Recent research has shown that 3/4 employees want more focus on environmental and social issues, post-Covid, while 4/5 employers believe sustainability’s role in business is increasing. That said, only 25% of employees and 29% of employers believe it will be 100% embedded in their return-to-workplace and recovery plans, post-pandemic. The same research revealed that 78% of people believe strong sustainability credentials impact brand perception and performance, while 70% of employees choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda. That said, if channel partners aren’t considering ESG in their business, why should they expect their customers to invest their trust and money in them?

Sustainability has been core to Epson’s management philosophy for decades now and it is a firm part of the company’s DNA. While there are many ways in which a business can start to seriously consider ESG, a good start would be to integrate all relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals into their business framework, setting smart targets that can be communicated and adhered to across the business.

To better contribute towards a more sustainable society, Epson participates in numerous external initiatives. In April 2019, Epson joined the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), a global coalition dedicated to CSR in global supply chains, and in December 2020 Epson achieved platinum status for socially responsible manufacturing, the RBA’s highest CSR accreditation. In 2019 Epson took a permanent seat on the board of directors for CSR Europe, a network supporting businesses with their sustainability journey, to help lead in their creation of sustainability guidelines and policies. In April 2021, Epson joined RE100, a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses driving the transition to 100% renewable electricity, as a means of further encouraging its customers and partners to make the switch to renewable energy. And in March 2021, Epson reaffirmed its commitment to its Key CSR Themes materiality matrix, which identifies key initiatives from Epson in addressing the 169 targets of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In the UK, Epson has trained an internal team of 30 ‘green gurus’ in new waste management to monitor and educate employees regarding recycling and other environmental concerns, and it participates in the 30% Club Women’s Mentoring programme to help achieve a greater gender balance in its industry. Epson UK provides interactive presentations to local schools on the importance of sustainability and how they can make eco-conscious decisions at school and at home, and Epson provides its local charity partner in the UK, the Human Milk Foundation, with thousands in financial support along with print, labelling and projection product donations, up to 30 volunteering days from employees per year and brand building efforts to promote their cause.

Decarbonisation
The environmental impacts made by the tech channel and how to reduce these are not dissimilar to those in other sectors. This generally requires assessing the carbon footprint generated internally (scope 1: direct emissions, under the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol) as well as the collateral footprint generated through third parties (scope 2 and 3: indirect emissions), up to and including the downstream emissions emitted from end-users with the products they buy.

The big push currently is decarbonisation and understanding how to become net zero, and there are numerous analysis tools available from different firms on how to analyse risk versus compliance that cover decarbonisation and the entire ESG landscape. A big part of this analysis includes distinguishing real action from businesses to tackle environmental issues versus more imitated efforts, i.e. ‘greenwashing’.

Epson’s decarbonisation strategy of reducing the environmental impacts of its own technology is one that can be adapted by the tech channel and the products they choose to offer customers. It not only reflects the reduced carbon emissions waste generated by customers as a result of Epson product usage, but it reflects the collective carbon footprint Epson strives to minimise throughout its entire product lifecycle.

When it comes to manufacturing, Epson is committed to leveraging innovative technologies that help solve issues that affect us all and contribute to sustainability and enrich our communities. Here are just a few examples:

If all European businesses switched to Epson inkjet technology, we could save 1 billion kWh a year, the equivalent to a €151 million energy saving and could reduce carbon emissions by over 410 thousand tonnes of CO2, a volume it would take 18 million trees a year to absorb. The design that gives us these eco savings is the same design that generates faster first page out times (FPOT), runs on fewer consumables and requires minimal intervention.

Epson is also in the vanguard of more sustainable solutions for fashion, an industry that produces 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions. Localising fashion using more on-demand digital printing can save up to 4Kg of CO2 per item. Our digital textile printers reduce water use by up to 90% and energy use by up to 30%.

Epson is also playing a key role in digital transformation thanks to its range of affordable, low-energy consumption desktop scanners, which are not only digitising paper documents but are helping businesses to streamline communications, increase efficiency and save time.

Other efficient technology solutions that are helping customers reduce their environmental impacts can be found across Epson’s wide portfolio of projectors, smart glasses, robotics and more.

Channel initiatives
One of the best ways the channel can help reduce the industry’s carbon footprint is by taking a vested and emotional interest in the environment, taking the time to educate its employees on the environmental implications their roles are each responsible for, and actively advocating positive change. As a global manufacturer that spends approximately $1.2m daily on research and development, Epson is both able and responsible for making great commitments towards ensuring its products, offices and factories, employees, and its supply chains are meeting the highest possible standards for sustainability. But a business doesn’t need a daily budget of $1.2m to reduce its carbon footprint.

The reduced energy consumption and consumables of many Epson products is actually offering our partners a means of carbon offsetting, while a lot of channel partners are taking this a step further with environmental and conservation initiatives to further support the cause. For example, Copytype in Ireland recently pledged financial donations to the Burren Pine Project for the sale of every inkjet printer as a celebration of the new commitment to sustainable inkjet printing. Sharples Group as another example have pledged to plant a minimum of six trees in The Mersey Forest for every hardware product they sell. These efforts are highly contagious and the message we strive to deliver around sustainability as professionals is increasingly mirrored in the decisions we make in our personal lives as well.

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