Survey highlights use of innovative tech to drive profit, benefit the environment


According to a new study conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund, an overwhelming majority of executives at top companies are using innovative technologies to drive profitability and environmental performance.

The survey was conducted in partnership with research firm KRC Research.

The survey includes responses from more than 500 executives from companies with revenues ranging from $500m to $5 billion.

More than 70% of executives say their businesses and environmental goals are more closely aligned than they were just five years ago, primarily due to advances in technology.

The survey also found that:

  • 70% of executives say their company is already actively investing in technologies that help solve environmental problems.
  • 78% believe that new technologies will compel businesses to improve their environmental impact on their own, regardless of pressure from regulators, consumers or investors.
  • 75% of top companies consider the environmental impact of a technology when deciding to implement it.
  • 80% of business leaders believe consumers will start holding businesses more accountable for environmental impact because of the ubiquity of these technologies.

Of the seven technologies analysed:

  • Blockchain and de-materialisation remain foreign to about 35% of business leaders, although they are believed to have the greatest growth potential.
  • Data analytics is the most implemented innovation and also believed to have the biggest potential impact on an organisation’s bottom line, environmental footprint and brand reputation.
  • Data analytics and measurement technology are seen as having as much potential to improve the environment as both cap-and-trade systems and major environmental laws of the 1970s.

The survey focused on seven emerging technologies including blockchain, sensors, data analytics, mobile ubiquity, dematerialisation, automation, and sharing technologies.

Companies surveyed include Google, Bloomberg and NRG Energy.

Tom Murray, VP at EDF+Business, said: “Innovation and technology are accelerating sustainability efforts from the factory floor to the C-suite.

“Executives are recognising how emerging technologies that benefit the bottom line can also improve environmental performance.

“The same innovations that are changing our lives and revolutionising virtually every sector of the economy can be harnessed to scale solutions to our most urgent environmental challenges.

“Fourth Wave innovations can supercharge sustainability efforts by surfacing valuable data that was previously invisible, improving resiliency across global supply chains, and enabling powerful collaborations between industry, advocacy groups and communities.”

The survey was conducted on executives from companies across five industries—retail, manufacturing, energy, technology, and finance.

“I’m constantly thinking about where tech is going not in just two years but in five or 10 years – and what it will mean for the company. Already, we’re seeing that some of the technology tools and innovations in the agriculture space are unlocking opportunities for our business and for reducing our environmental footprint,” said Dave Stangis, VP of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Sustainability Officer at Campbell.