Four steps to an environmentally-sustainable business

Sopra Steria’s UK Aerospace Team recently attended the Paris Air Show, a landmark event held every other year that brings together all of the industry’s major players. This show is where deals are made, contracts are announced and the latest technologies and aircraft are unveiled. While Industry 4.0 and intelligent automation still dominate conversations, at this year’s show sustainability was propelled to the top of the agenda. Seven of the world’s largest companies – Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, GE Aviation, Rolls-Royce, Safran and United Technologies – joined together to commit to the development of cleaner, ‘greener’ aircraft and engines to reduce CO2 emissions.

In a statement issued during the show the Chief Technology Officers of the seven aviation leaders were keen to espouse the benefits of air travel, while emphasising the extent to which the industry is serious about reducing the impact of climate change:

‘Aviation connects our world by efficiently and rapidly moving people, opening new economic opportunities and transporting food and goods all over our planet. Aviation promotes global understanding, generating rich cultural exchanges and thereby contributing to peaceful co-existence.

At the same time, climate change has become a clear concern for our society. Humanity’s impact on the climate requires action on many fronts. The aviation industry is already taking significant action to protect the planet and will continue to do so.’

It seems that environmental sustainability has taken the world by storm, from the very corporate examples demonstrated at the Paris Air Show to the recent headline-grabbing pink yacht blockade of the Extinction Rebellion.

At Sopra Steria we are proud of our exemplary approach to sustainability, and, in the section below, share four practical actions that businesses can take to address their environmental impact.

Nudge

‘If you want someone to do something, make it easy’ said economist Richard Thaler in a recent TED Talk. Making it as easy as possible for employees to recycle, remember to switch off equipment and make plastic-free choices – so that it is no more effort than the alternative – is a great start. At Sopra Steria, we were able to divert 100% of our waste from landfill by having removed desk-side bins and ensured that refuse areas are clearly labelled. We are also working to replace plastic packaging with an alternative that is compostable, which will eliminate over 498,000 items of single-use plastics – equivalent in carbon emissions to eight flights from London to New York.

Demand

Businesses order a lot of things – from pencils to storage cabinets! Being mindful of a supplier’s environmental credentials in procurement is a great way for a small process tweak to have a significant impact. Feed back and feed forward; businesses can and should demand more from their supply chain when it comes to environmental concerns. Key suppliers to Sopra Steria are required to participate in our Sustainable Supply Chain Programme, including independent assessment and a requirement for them to manage supply chain risks proactively, establishing measures and targets. We have outlined an expectation with 90% of our key suppliers that they have greenhouse gas reduction targets in place by 2025.

Stay

Typically, most service companies’ emissions come from business travel. Although meeting face-to-face is beneficial for productive relationships within and outside of an organisation, it is vital that employees question whether routine meetings could be handled remotely to reduce their environmental impact. At Sopra Steria we encourage and equip our staff to work and meet remotely using tele- and video-conferencing technology. To make the environmental cost of business travel more explicit we introduced shadow carbon pricing, which has led to a reduction in emissions per employee from business travel of 20.9% from 2015 levels.

Practise

…what you preach. Don’t just focus on the changes that can be effected internally – pass on best practices to customers too. At Sopra Steria all services are certified CarbonNeutral®, which we enhance with our formalised Sustainable Service Delivery (SSD) approach to managing economic, social and environmental concerns as an integrated part of our work with clients. SSD establishes a sustainability policy and a programme of improvement initiatives that are tailored to our customers and their own sustainability and social value priorities.

The United Nations’ recently declared that we could have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe, so the time for businesses to act is now.

Have you heard the latest buzz from our DigiLab Hackathon winners?

The innovative LiveHive project was crowned winner of the Sopra Steria UK “Hack the Thing” competition which took place last month.

Sopra Steria DigiLab hosts quarterly Hackathons with a specific challenge, the most recent named – Hack the Thing. Whilst the aim of the hack was sensor and IoT focused, the solution had to address a known sustainability issue. The LiveHive team chose to focus their efforts on monitoring and improving honey bee health, husbandry and supporting new beekeepers.

A Sustainable Solution 

Bees play an important role in sustainability within agriculture. Their pollinating services are worth around £600 million a year in the UK in boosting yields and the quality of seeds and fruits[1]. The UK had approximately 100,000 beekeepers in 1943 however this number had dropped to 44,000 by 2010[2]. Fortunately, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in beekeeping which has highlighted a need for a product that allows beekeepers to explore and extend their knowledge and capabilities through the use of modern, accessible technology.

LiveHive allows beekeepers to view important information about the state of their hives and receive alerts all on their smartphone or mobile device. The social and sharing side of the LiveHive is designed to engage and support new beekeepers and give them a platform for more meaningful help from their mentors. The product also allows data to be recorded and analysed aiding national/international research and furthering education on the subject.

The LiveHive Model

The LiveHive Solution integrates three services – hive monitoring, hive inspection and a beekeeping forum offering access to integrated data and enabling the exchange of data.

“As a novice beekeeper I’ve observed firsthand how complicated it is to look after a colony of bees. When asking my mentor questions I find myself having to reiterate the details of the particular hive and history of the colony being discussed. The mentoring would be much more effective and valuable if they had access to the background and context of the hives scenario.”

LiveHive integrates the following components:

  • Technology Sensors: to monitor conditions such as temperature and humidity in a bee hive, transmitting the data to Azure cloud for reporting.
  • Human Sensors: a Smartphone app that enables the beekeeper to record inspections and receive alerts.
  • Sharing Platform: to allow the novice beekeeper to share information with their mentors and connect to a forum where beekeepers exchange knowledge, ideas and experience. They can also share the specific colony history to help members to understand the context of any question.

How does it actually work?

A Raspberry Pi measures temperature, humidity and light levels in the hive transmits measurements to Microsoft Azure cloud through its IoT Hub.

Sustainable Innovation

On a larger scale, the data behind the hive sensor information and beekeepers inspection records creates a large, unique source of primary beekeeping data. This aids research and education into the effects of beekeeping practice on yields and bee health presenting opportunities to collaborate with research facilities and institutions.

The LiveHive roadmap plans to also put beekeepers in touch with the local community through the website allowing members of the public to report swarms, offer apiary sites and even find out who may be offering local honey!

What’s next? 

The team have already created a buzz with fellow bee projects and beekeepers within Sopra Steria by forming the Sopra Steria International Beekeepers Association which will be the beta test group for LiveHive. Further opportunities will also be explored with the service design principle being applied to other species which could aid in Government inspection. The team are also looking at methods to collaborate with Government directorates in Scotland.

It’s just the start for this lot of busy bees but a great example of some of the innovation created in Sopra Steria’s DigiLab!

[1] Mirror, 2016. Why are bee numbers dropping so dramatically in the UK?  

[2] Sustain, 2010. UK bee keeping in decline