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Greenwashing or Legit?

Natalie Billingham

Written by

Natalie Billingham

March 09, 2022

How to tell if your IT provider means business when it comes to sustainability  

I think we can all agree that sustainability is one of the most important topics that we will discuss this year. It's driving consumer habits, business practices, and investment decisions. And it’s a discussion that’s happening at every level of the business; from procurement all the way up to the boardroom. 

We’ve seen this here at Akamai, too. In our request for proposals (RFPs) with leading banks, retailers, media companies, and government agencies there has been a 30% increase in sustainability being mentioned in sales contracts and RFPs since 2020. Plus, our sustainability team held twice the number of meetings with customers about this topic in 2021 than we did in 2020. 

In this blog, I will address some of the most common questions asked in those meetings so you can be a smarter consumer of sustainability content from your IT providers. 

Question #1: What does it mean to be sustainable?  

Sustainability, in the context of environmental sustainability, means understanding, managing, and lessening the impacts of a company’s operations on the environment. A drive toward sustainability is becoming more prevalent throughout the industry, as the negative consequences of business-as-usual are becoming more and more obvious. 

Question #2: In what ways is Akamai sustainable? 

Akamai doesn't really “produce” anything physical, so we don’t need to worry about impacts as it relates to production (think: water use as it relates to making clothes or lumber needed in furniture production). 

However, the products and services we sell rely on our globally distributed edge platform. Our platform consumes massive amounts of energy to keep our 290,000+ servers running and is responsible for 92% of our global emissions. This is where Akamai focuses our sustainability initiatives. 

Akamai has plans to usher in a carbon-free internet by 2030 through a combination of efficiency projects and renewable energy programs. To do this, we have five goals in place to reach by 2030: 

  1. Source 100% renewable energy to power our global operations

  2. Build a 50% more energy-efficient Akamai platform

  3. Mitigate 100% of our platform emissions

  4. Engage with our top suppliers to baseline and quantify certain greenhouse gas emissions, known as Scope 3 emissions, with a goal toward a measurable reduction by 2030

  5. Continue to recycle 100% of our e-waste.

So, although a longer answer to question #2 can be found in our recently released sustainability report, the short answer is: Consume less energy, put new renewable energy on the grid, and encourage our supply chain to do the same.  

Question #3: What does that mean for me? 

We know that your usage of our delivery, performance, and security solutions contributes to your overall carbon emissions profile. So, as we get greener, you do, too. We firmly believe that the responsibility for emissions reduction lies with the supply chain, and we continuously make strides to reduce our footprint. 

Together, we take collective environmental action with all our customers by offering unparalleled, custom insights into the emissions resulting from the use of Akamai services. This customized emissions report helps customers understand, manage, and ultimately reduce their environmental footprint. 

And this translates to some real, tangible sustainability wins for our customers. Akamai has managed to help RTL Nederlands deliver their weather app, Buienradar, 95% carbon free. It is also 95% more efficient on bit delivery.

Question #4: How can I tell if your program is as good as you say it is?  

You can tell sustainability at Akamai is the real deal because we are transparent about our progress: namely, what we’ve done well and what we could do better. Each year, we report to industry bodies including the Carbon Disclosure Project, Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, FTSE4Good, and EcoVadis — and make all those reports public. 

The five goals that I outlined earlier are aligned with the Business Ambition for 1.5°C initiative and are science-based targets. 

We also have an environmental management system (which is how we track emissions data) and maintain our program in compliance with ISO 14001 standards. We are also actively seeking out ISO 14001 certification. 

We hope this helps 

At the end of the day, finding a sustainable partner is a challenge, but one that is not impossible to overcome.  

Akamai helps some of the world's top brands unlock the full potential of the digital world — where we help them make life better for billions of people, billions of times a day. They rely on us to power and protect their digital experiences.

In doing so, we understand the important role we play for measurable, impactful, and sustainable change. We are taking active steps to transition to more clean-energy sources and to improve energy efficiency. We’re leading by example by doing this both in our own operations and by helping our customers understand, track, and reduce their own emissions. 

Learn more

We still have a long way to go, but we’re already making progress on our ambitious 2030 goals. You can read more about that progress in our 2021 sustainability report. 

As long as people continue to expect better and better digital experiences, we’ll keep innovating for the most environmentally sustainable ways to deliver them.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have comments or would like to discuss this more, please reach out to us at sustainability@akamai.com



Natalie Billingham

Written by

Natalie Billingham

March 09, 2022