Analysis Environment UAE consumers eager to learn about sustainability By Divsha Bhat October 31, 2023 Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh Gold and silver recycled from electronic waste. Consumers are showing increasing interest in the sustainability of companies' products Demand for eco-friendly goods Tech sector emissions growing Data explosion adds to urgency Interest in sustainability is soaring in the UAE, with 90 percent of consumers eager to receive more information on sustainable living, according to the Sustainability Trends Report 2023. The report was commissioned by Alibaba Group, the Chinese multinational technology company based in Hangzhou. Consumers are demanding sustainable and eco-friendly business practices, making it imperative for tech companies to rectify the adverse effects of climate change through their resources and platforms. Trash to treasure: how the Gulf is tackling e-waste Just 12% of Mena businesses have net zero target Seven steps to reducing the Gulf’s emissions “Conversations with chief information officers increasingly centre around the environmental impact of their operations,” Ahmad Alkhallafi, managing director UAE and Africa at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, told AGBI. “Sustainability has become a global concern and the market is witnessing a shift towards sustainable practices, with large enterprises and government agencies expressing their commitment to preventing infrastructure from ending up in landfills,” he added. The tech sector currently accounts for 2-3 percent of global emissions and is poised to surge with the proliferation of digitalisation, according to the United Nations. The industry’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase if not addressed, with enterprise technology alone responsible for emitting 350 to 400 megatonnes of carbon dioxide. Adding to these issues is the growing mountain of e-waste generated from legacy rip-and-replace processes – and there is another important element to future looking green technologies. The need to shift focus “Technology has a huge impact on energy consumption as the amount of data we create in work and private contexts grows exponentially,” Omar Akar, regional vice president for Middle East and Emerging Africa at Pure Storage told AGBI. “In 2020, the world generated 64.2 zettabytes. In 2025, we’re on course to almost triple that, with over 181 zettabytes — that’s 181 billion terabytes,” he added. To put this data explosion into context, it is important to understand what one zettabyte represents in terms of digital storage: 30 billion 4K movies, 60 billion video games or 7.5 trillion MP3s. The time has come for technology companies to shift their focus beyond financial growth and embrace their responsibility toward the environment for long-term, sustainable success. It is crucial for companies to recognise that sustainability doesn’t necessarily translate to added costs or inefficiencies. Sustainable infrastructure can be designed cost-effectively, making it accessible to a broader audience. “It’s important to note that technology does have the capability to help us to live more sustainably as we use IT to work, stay connected, and enjoy ourselves, all with less travel and fewer materials consumed,” Akar said. “By focusing on responsible design and deployment, companies can provide value to their clients in the long run,” Alkhallafi emphasised.