“Do you really think big corporates are going to give a sh*t about something like NetZero 2050 when it’s a good 30 years off?” was the question I was asked by a peer when discussing issues of corporate social responsibility and ESG. A fair point if I consider what my years of regulatory reporting has taught me about the mounting pressures and competing priorities regulated firms face daily. But whilst 2050 is the timeline for carbon neutrality, the actions that need to be taken to get us there need to start today if we are going to have a fighting chance of succeeding in what is quite a lofty goal.
Such a goal might seem like quite a daunting task and one naturally asks, “where do I begin”? But there are changes that firms can make in the short term that can be quite impactful in reducing one’s carbon footprint. A great example of this is in the distribution of regulated documents to consumers. In 2017 the retail banking sector was responsible for an average annual customer paper document volume of 482 mil, and whilst that reduced by 7% in 2018 and continues to slowly decline, there is still an inordinate reliance on distributing these documents through paper, print and postage. This is understandable when the Durable Medium regulation has this method as the fail safe. But the reality is that the distribution of regulated documents via this means in comparison to others using green innovation is taking a hefty toll on the environment.
The World Counts, an organisation that uses real time data to drive awareness on issues of sustainability, very aptly states that paper is a “useful but wasteful product”, with the paper industry being the 5th largest consumer of energy in the world. To produce 1 ton of virgin paper they estimate that as much of 253 gallons of petrol is used. There is also the issue of deforestation with 42% of all global wood harvest being used to make paper.
One might argue that greater up take of recycling and increased use of recycled papers would help to mitigate this, but really there are still issues around the environmental impacts of printing and postage, making the practice of distributing regulated documents by this method an unnecessarily wasteful means of communication in the face of available green alternatives such as ALT/AVE’s Durable Medium Repository. Thankfully, there is a better way!