Becoming More Sustainable: Practical Advice for the IT Channel


We need no more reminding of the importance of Sustainability, our daily news covers the citizen protests, and the increased frequency or rare climatic events affecting populations and planned events such as sports. This blog will explore the impact of sustainability on the IT Industry with particular focus on the actions that UK Service Providers can take to
improve their own emissions and those in their value chain.

Sustainability within the IT Sector

The IT market is a significant contributor to Global Emissions, laptops and tablets are replaced every few years with the corresponding manufacturing and logistical implications and the water and electricity use of Data Centres is a high focus area by many agencies and governments. Studies have claimed the IT industry to be a bigger Carbon emitter than the airline industry (1) and governments are placing stringent conditions on the Public Cloud providers (2). The robust response from the large IT Vendors indicates how seriously they are taking this, with huge investments in Solar, Wind and even forward contracts on Nuclear Fusion when it becomes available (3) (4) (5) (6). Microsoft has committed to carbon negativity, and zero waste by 2030, as well as aiming to remove all historic emissions from the environment by 2050 (7). AWS has pledged to use 100% renewable energy by 2025 (8). Google is carbon neutral for current operations with a goal to use carbon-free energy in all operations by 2030. All three promise to be water positive by 2030 with Google actually stating a figure of 120% (9) .

It’s good to know that the large Vendors have plans and actions in place but what can a Service Provider do to measure and manage their own emissions?

Action plan for IT Service Providers to manage their Sustainability

Put a framework in place

We suggest starting with an industry recognised framework for measuring and managing your sustainability targets. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) (10) is used by almost all large companies including TD Synnex and is a great place to start. GHG breaks down emissions into three focus areas or scopes:

• Scope 1 : Emissions from sources directly owned or controlled by your business, including burning fuels on-site or in company vehicles.
• Scope 2 : Indirect emissions are caused when the energy your company buys and uses is produced by your energy suppliers, often electricity, gas etc. Although scope 2 emissions physically occur at the facility where they are generated, they are accounted for in a company’s GHG inventory because they are a result of your company’s energy use.
• Scope 3 : Emissions are generated by your end to end supply chain and the customers who use your products & services, as well as any other activities necessary to run your business, from staff travel, commuting to waste management.
A link to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Web Site is included in the Resources section below.

Set clear targets and communicate them



The next stage will be to agree within your business, what your goals are around sustainability are, this is likely to be a target date for net zero Carbon emissions and a target for water use, it will be mapped against the Framework you have established in the first step. With your goals set you will need to communicate them within the business to ensure that all staff are on-board and ensure that your goals are reflected in your marketing communications, Website etc.

colleagues sharing business goals

model of wind turbine with woman in background

Start to measure and understand your Sustainability position.


Companies initially tended to focus on Scope 1 and 2 exclusively, but it’s now increasingly recognised that Scope 3 should also be included when calculating your company’s carbon footprint, as this group is typically the greatest driver of total emissions.  There are 15 upstream and downstream categories within scope 3 and not all will be relevant for your business. You will notice that the UK Government mention both Scope 2 and Scope 3 in the guidance document linked below (2). For most organisations scope 3 is usually far higher than that of scopes 1&2 combined, it’s not uncommon for companies to have 80%+ of their emissions within scope 3.

If you haven’t managed to measure your scopes 1,2,3 or don’t know how to, help is available as shown in the Resources links below.

Make changes to reach your goals


We suggest that you put your emissions into 3 buckets

  • Bucket 1 – Items you have direct control over
  • Bucket 2 – Items you don’t control, but can influence
  • Bucket 3 – Items you cannot control or influence but want to monitor.

Once you have don’t this, it helps to draw your attention to what you can and cannot do, focus on low hanging fruit, accepting that some items might take years to fix.  Scope 3 emissions are often described as being someone else’s scope 1&2.

two women talking about targets

Potential Scope 1 Changes:

Energy use within your premises is likely to be a significant component in your emissions and good area to focus on. It is important to understand what the EPC rating is for your office / premises even if leased. UK government legislated in 2023 that commercial buildings that do not have an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of E or better are no longer able to be traded or leased under the new legislation. These regulations are set to evolve over time, with the minimum EPC rating rising to C in 2027 and B in 2030, so landlords will be under big pressure to improve their commercial office spaces.
Moving your energy supplier to renewable sources could make a significant improvement. There are many schemes from big power companies offering green energy supported by REGOs (renewable energy guarantee of origin) certificates. If you use gas, can this be replaced with electric? if not can biogas be used?
LED lighting uses significantly less power, lasts longer and typically has less maintenance costs as well as better health & safety records, a move from Halogen to LED can have a significant impact on energy consumption and emissions.
If you are able to do so, the installation of Solar Panels along with a move to electric heating and vehicles is likely to make a substantial improvement to your emissions. If you operate a vehicle fleet (cars & vans), consider electrifying the fleet.

What can you do about Scope 3 Emissions?

Scope 3 are the emissions that you have least direct control over, but you can influence or move suppliers to effect change. Items to consider would be any promotional items you use in your Marketing efforts, food waste for your staff or at events, understanding the emissions created by your suppliers and the products that you sell.
A significant area within Scope 3 that you can affect is Category 6 and 7 which cover business travel and employee commuting. Offering staff salary sacrifice to run more efficient company vehicles or offering the Cycle to work scheme can improve emissions in these areas. You may also want to offer incentives for using public transport for business travel and where flights are required, you may want to consider carbon offsetting. A clear way to reduce all travel emission is the use of business productivity solutions to enable hybrid working and online meetings.
If you run marketing events, replacing flyers with digital downloads and managing food waste is a positive step.

office desks with plants

Do I have to account for the products I sell?



The wording of category 11 (use of sold product) makes it clear that you have to account for the emissions of the products that you sell.  This is probably one of the most controversial categories as it implies that the vendor, distributor, reseller and end user will all account for the same product, often referred to as double accounting.  The move to Net Zero by the Vendors mentioned above will certainly make accounting easier for Public Cloud Solutions in future.

How do I verify that my findings are correct ?



Once you have measured your sustainability metrics, you can obtain certification from a number of organisations to confirm your findings. These external verification steps are important for your own piece of mind and to publish externally as your customers are likely to be more reassured by an independent verification than your own claims.

magnifying glass looking over business documents

Leading by Example : TD SYNNEX

We have looked at the lofty goals from the major Vendors and some steps Service Providers make take on their own journey. It may help to examine the steps that TD SYNNEX have taken in the UK to address their own sustainability and the results they have found.

• Over 560 solar panels on the Basingstoke office as well as renewable energy from the National Grid. 3 out of 4 offices in UK are now using renewable energy and with a forecast that 90% of total electric consumption in 2023 will come from renewable energy. TD SYNNEX UK have committed to reduce energy use by 20% this year.
• Basingstoke office has with full sensor-controlled LED lighting which reduced energy consumption by 54%. The Basingstoke and Bracknell offices are rated EPC B.
• During the Basingstoke Office move TD SYNNEX donated over £180k of old office furniture to the Waste to Wonder charity. They repurposed the old office equipment and distributed it to charities in UK & Africa.
• EV car chargers are installed at 3 out of our 4 UK sites with a goal to roll them out to all real estate by end of 2023.
• Caterers are asked to use no single use plastic and venues are required to have a comprehensive recycling and food waste policy.
• Marketing is achieved with digital assets where possible.
• Water stations for refillable water bottles in offices and at marketing events.
• Event venues are selected based on access to public transport and electric charging facilities to reduce transport related emissions.
• A tree is planted by Treedom for every attendee at a TD SYNNEX event.
• Carbon offsets are purchased through Egencia and Climate Partners for air travel where the airline does not offer carbon offset itself.
• TD SYNNEX use several independent verification and recording schemes to track and measure progress including: ECOVadis – which typically track the full ESG piece. An annual report also goes to CDP – Carbon Disclosure Project.
• TD SYNNEX is also committed to science-based carbon reduction targets and have signed the business partner pledge with the world renowned SBTi


With the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) (11) coming into effect next year, the focus on this area will increase for larger companies with the SME sector inevitably following suit. A coherent strategy around Sustainability is therefore essential. We understand this can be a daunting prospect and hope that following the steps in this guide and using the resources we have Linked to should make the journey a little easier.


Government, and NGO Resources

Greenhouse gas protocol Homepage | GHG Protocol
Government conversion factors for company reporting of greenhouse gas emissions : UK Government DEFRA information on greenhouse gas reporting for use by UK and international organisations to report on greenhouse gas emissions.
EcoVadis : EcoVadis helps you manage your network both upstream and downstream, either by sharing your performance with your stakeholders or monitoring the performance of your own upstream value chain.
Treedom : Plant or Gift a Tree and Follow the Story Online : As well as planting physical trees to offset CO2, Treedom allows you to create an interactive forest to add to your web page with your own logo and messaging.
Federation of Small business sustainability hub : Grow your business. Shrink your carbon footprint. Our sustainability hub is regularly updated with the latest resources, tools, and information to help your small business prepare for changes, go green, and be more sustainable.
The Carbon Disclosure Project : CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states, and regions to manage their environmental impacts.
Science Based Targets – SBTi : The SBTi is developing guidance to support companies to go beyond their science-based targets by channeling additional climate finance towards mitigation activities outside of their value chains.

Vendor Resources

Microsoft Sustainability – Products for a Sustainable Future
IBM Envizi ESG Software Suite | IBM
Sustainability highlights from Dell Technologies World 2023 | TechTarget

Help available from TD SYNNEX and Embedded IT

Sustainability Index | Embedded IT
Carbon Consultancy packages are available from TD SYNNEX please speak to Alix Clements:
TD SYNNEX also sells smart IoT building sensors to help you monitor consumption, building occupancy, temperature control, etc. Please speak to your Account Manager or Elliot Hall-Jones: