Atos Launches Sustainable Digital Workplace Suite

If Generative AI is one word of the year for 2023, Sustainable is the other. This news concerns “Tech For Good” digital solutions from Atos.

Paris, France, and Dubai, UAE – December 6, 2023 – Atos today announces the launch of a new global offering designed to help enterprises reach their CSR goals. With 57% of enterprise IT’s carbon footprint attributable to workplace devices, this service offering represents a major step forward in providing clients with access to new sustainable IT solutions.

Since the 2021 announcement of Atos’ partnership with the BSI Kitemark certified startup Circular Computing at COP26, Atos has expanded its portfolio and set up a comprehensive suite of more than 20 “Tech for Good” services and solutions, encompassing social value and accessibility criteria as well as data analytics and user interfaces. 

The first segment in the new offering reshapes device lifecycle management. Most companies replace employee laptops every three to four years, with each new device accountable for emissions of more than 300 kg of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). Atos is now working with a global network of industrial partners to offer clients lower-carbon laptop replacement options, including performance-based refresh and extended use, refurbishing, or remanufacturing. 

However, to optimize IT assets it is critical to accurately measure their usage and the carbon footprint of digital behaviors. Atos’ new offering includes a set of dashboards that enable end users and executives to better monitor and improve their workplace carbon footprint. 

The “Atos Tech 4 Good Assistant” application offers employees real-time feedback about their personal performance against environmental and social parameters. The assistant can recommend actions such as removing unnecessary programs, turning off the laptop or changing settings on the device. The assistant is available via Microsoft Teams or pop-up notifications, and provides a monthly performance report for each end user.

The final part of the sustainable workplace offering provides consolidated data and recommended actions to IT and CSR leaders. These recommendations allow leaders to not only closely monitor and manage their workplace carbon footprint, but also to improve the impact of the service in terms of social value and accessibility. They are designed to support CSR reporting, which is becoming an increasingly challenging task for organizations across the world. 

The Atos Tech 4 Good Assistant solution already monitors more than 100 device models, applications and services, and offers 10+ dashboards to track metrics like device redeployment and improved electricity use. The offering has been co-designed with several Atos clients to ensure it meets the needs of different industries and geographies before expanding to more devices and services as it ramps up in 2024. 

Tech Foundations is the Atos Group business line leading in managed services, focusing on hybrid cloud infrastructure, employee experience and technology services, through decarbonized, automated and AI-enabled solutions. Its 52,000 employees advance what matters to the world’s businesses, institutions and communities. It is present in 69 countries, with an annual revenue of € 6 billion.

Infinitum Secures Funding To Increase Production of High-Efficiency, Sustainable Motors

Sustainability is outpaced only by AI in terms of inputs into my email stream. Many people, even technology pundits, don’t realize that sustainability is also Lean thinking and technology. It’s good for the environment and for the bottom line. This news release concerns funding for expansion for Infinitum, creator and manufacturer of a sustainable air-core electric motor.

  • The industrial sector is one of the largest and hardest-to-abate emitters of greenhouse gases.
  • By 2040, 30% of the growth in global electricity demand is expected to come from industrial motors as the sector expands and shifts to electrification.
  • In the US industrial sector, motors alone consume nearly 70% of total electricity used; however, the majority of motors today waste energy because they operate at a single speed. Higher-efficiency, variable speed motors in industrial applications are critical for reducing energy and emissions.
  • Implementing advanced motor technology like Infinitum’s has the potential to save 127 terawatt-hours per year (TWh/yr), translating into cost savings of $14.7 billion and reductions of 90.2 MMT of CO2 for the US industrial and commercial sectors.

Infinitum, creator of the sustainable air-core motor, announced $185 million in Series E funding led by Just Climate with participation from Galvanize Climate Solutions and NGP. Existing investors including Alliance Resource Partners, Rockwell Automation, Riverstone Holdings, Chevron Technology Ventures, Cottonwood Technology Fund and Ajax Strategies also participated in this round, bringing total funding to-date to $350 million. Funds will be used to expand the company and increase production to meet customer demand and drive decarbonization in the industrial sector, one of the largest and hardest-to-abate emitters of greenhouse gases.

I sold (or tried to sell) variable frequency drives in the 90s as energy saving devices in addition to just doing the job better. Here is an update on that.

Infinitum’s advanced motors meet this challenge through a built-in variable frequency drive (VFD) that reduces energy usage by running the motor at lower speeds when possible. The motor is 50 percent smaller and lighter, uses 66 percent less copper and no iron in the stator, and consumes 10 percent less energy1 than traditional motors. Infinitum’s air-core motors, so named because the stator does not have an iron core, replace the copper-wound iron core found in traditional motors with a lightweight printed circuit board stator that is 10x more reliable. Manufacturing and servicing Infinitum motors is less carbon intensive than traditional motors and the motor’s modular design allows components to be reused multiple times.

CEOs have often come to me to tout their latest and greatest technology, and I always ask, “How will you sell it?” Here is an answer from Infinitum.

To accelerate the adoption of high-efficiency, variable speed motors across the global industrial sector, Rockwell Automation and Infinitum are jointly developing a motor system that is compatible with Rockwell’s market-leading industrial automation solutions. The resulting motor and low-voltage drive solution will be distributed through Rockwell.

Plant-based “Plastic” for Restaurant Cutlery and More

Petroleum-based plastics have become an international waste hazard. Microplastic has invaded every part of our ecosystem—even into our bodies. The search for compostable, yet usable, alternatives has not been satisfactory so far. This press release just came my way. It tells a story (unlike most publicity) about the development of compostable plastic made from agricultural waste usable in existing injection molding machinery and quickly reverts to usable compost to return to the farm. Brilliant! 

The company is PlantSwitch and here is its story as told by their publicity agent.

In 2019, 22-year-old Dillon Baxter was a senior at Southern Methodist University studying engineering while interning at a private equity firm when a proposal for a plastic alternative came across his desk. Although the company didn’t land an investment with the private equity firm Baxter was interning with, his interest was piqued.

One of the reasons previous plastic alternative companies hadn’t been able to take their product into the stratosphere, explains Baxter, was that they failed to entice big business because they didn’t offer a drop-in solution. “Large corporations that need to mold plastic products have already made significant investments in their existing machinery,” explains Baxter. “They were never going to embrace a plastic alternative that requires new machinery, thereby driving the costs way up and undermining corporate profits.”

He knew that if he was going to engineer a viable plastic alternative, it would have to be what he calls a “drop-in solution,” meaning his plastic alternative pellets would need to be compatible with existing plastic processing machinery.

Baxter got in touch with Maxime Blandin, a fellow SMU student with tight connections among suppliers and the two got to work. “I left my job and career track at a Private Equity Firm to set about our crazy goal of creating the world’s first environmentally sound, sustainable, scalable plastic alternative.”

After several trials, Baxter and Blandin discovered a method of upcycling agricultural waste derived from everything from rice husks, wheat straw and other cellulose rich byproducts combined with a polymer to make sustainable and scalable bioplastics while simultaneously upcycling agricultural waste.

The result mimics the texture, durability, and performance of traditional petroleum-based plastic completely, drops into existing plastic processing machinery and costs less than any other plastic alternative ever brought to market. Best of all, it is the only plant-based plastic alternative that completely breaks down within hours in an everyday home composting bin. The company, called PlantSwitch (founded in 2020), also has a carbon negative production process.

PlantSwitch is the game changer for all single use plastics that hundreds of millions of us use every day.

Corporate America and the U.S. Government has taken notice. Baxter and Blandin’s PlantSwitch has raised a total of $19.5 Million, to date, including a recently closed bridge round with Dallas-based alternative investment firm NexPoint Capital. Other investments include a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Having institutional backing is a huge step for PlantSwitch and for our environment,” says Baxter, now 26. “With our steadily growing capital, we will be able to continue to scale our business and deliver sustainable and biodegradable bioplastics to some of the largest companies and conglomerates in the U.S.”

PlantSwitch’s 52,000sf manufacturing facility has the capability of making 50 million lbs. of its bioplastics annually.

“Our goal is to replace petroleum-based single-use plastic with plants through the manufacturing and distribution of our compostable bioplastic resin,” shares Baxter.

PlantSwitch has recently entered into framework contracts with several nationwide restaurant and grocery store chains that will begin supplying as early as January 2024.

Responsible Computing Aligns with UN Sustainable Development Goals

The big internal debate at OpenAI last week that spilled into the general news domain highlights the struggle over developing technology as quickly as possible (usually to be the first with a hugely profitable product) against those who seek some responsibility among the developers. These latter would be trying to avoid the social discord and personal angst caused by Facebook/Instagram/TikTok algorithmic feeds.

The Responsible Computing Consortium attempts to step into the general computing void.

Responsible Computing (RC), a consortium comprised of technology innovators working together to address sustainable development goals, published a new whitepaper: Aligning Responsible Computing Domains with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“Responsible Computing must align with an existing, globally adopted framework such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure our work is credible and reliable,” said Page Motes, Strategic Advisor.  “Leveraging the SDG helps ensure that each Responsible Computing domain is rooted in legitimate and practical concepts to implement and drive beneficial progress.”

The RC framework focuses on six domains of responsible computing, including data centers, infrastructure, code, data usage, systems, and impact. RC’s Self-Assessment survey helps organizations evaluate their sustainability practices for information and communications technologies (ICT) and other business areas.

The UN initially established SDGs to guide nation-states; however, thousands of public and private organizations across the globe have decided to align broad programs, as well as discreet projects/initiatives, to specific SDGs.

“Organizations need a way to measure their progress in meeting SDGs against a baseline as they implement new strategies and as domains evolve and mature,” said Oriette Nayel, Co-Chair for Data Usage, Responsible Computing Consortium. “The Responsible Computing Self-Assessment provides a clear opportunity for organizations to cross-reference the various sub-elements addressed per RC domain with the SDGs.”

Responsible Computing domain alignment to SDGs falls into three different categories:

  • Foundational SDGs ensure domains are structurally sound and rooted in the law or essential standards.
  • SDGs that benefit by proper scoping, planning, or execution of the elements of a domain.
  • SDGs that reap the positive impact of a purposeful, responsible computing use case based on its intended output/outcome.

Organizations can drive meaningful and lasting change by:

  • Adopting the RC model
  • Understanding the potential impacts (positive and negative) related to each RC domain
  • Identifying and progressing against a small number of UN SDGs
  • Providing transparent reporting of outcomes

“IBM continues to be proud of our leadership position related to responsible computing,” said Guncha Malik, Executive Architect, IBM Cloud CISO. “In alignment with our ESG framework of Environmental, Equitable and Ethical Impact, IBM co-founded the Responsible Computing Consortium to further highlight the importance across industry to act as good corporate citizens and address key areas of synergy in alignment with widely accepted frameworks such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

“Whichever SDGs your organization chooses to advance, root your work in measurement and transparency, and be cautious with the use of the terms green, sustainable, or similar language that could lead to accusations of greenwashing and reputational damage,” said Bill Hoffman, Chairman & CEO, Object Management Group.

Joint Development Construction of a Small-scale Distributed Chemical Recycling System

This news encompasses a couple of trends of the past few years—partnership collaboration and sustainability. Yokogawa sent this one to me. Looks promising. If the idea works out, the impact on our environment will be substantial. Imagine cleaning up all the accumulated plastic that will never go anywhere.

  • Working toward a circular economy through a high-efficiency system that utilizes renewable energy –
  • Yokogawa Solution Service Corporation announces the conclusion of an agreement with Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd. on the joint development of a small-scale distributed chemical recycling system that uses microwave heating.

The companies will aim to construct a small-scale, high-efficiency recycling system by combining Microwave Chemical’s high-efficiency plastic decomposition technology with an automation technology that is based on continuous control of the thermal decomposition process, an energy management system (EMS) for the utilization of renewable energy, and an electricity tracking system provided by Yokogawa Solution Service.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the volume of discarded plastic produced globally in 2019 was 353 million tons, which is more than double the 156 million tons produced in 2000, and of this, only 9% is recycled. As such, further initiatives are required if a circular economy is to be achieved.

Chemical recycling, in which used resources are chemically processed and broken down at the molecular level to return them to the state of a raw material, is an excellent method that enables materials to be repeatedly recycled, even if they are not clean or contain impurities. When it comes to the chemical recycling of discarded plastic, the main subject of investigation by major chemical manufacturers and other such companies in Japan and overseas is large-scale centralized processing facilities with capacities of several thousand tons to tens of thousands of tons. While these facilities can efficiently process large volumes of discarded plastic, the transport of these materials from remote locations is cost prohibitive and a source of CO2 emissions due to their low specific gravity and poor transportation efficiency per unit weight.

To address this issue, Yokogawa Solution Service and Microwave Chemical have concluded an agreement for the joint development of a small-scale distributed chemical recycling system to break down and process discarded plastic near where it is generated. This system has at its core a reactor that breaks down discarded plastic by using microwave heating, and it is used together with the aforementioned energy management system and electricity tracking system to reduce CO2 emissions.

Microwave Chemical’s PlaWave chemical recycling technology uses microwaves to directly heat discarded plastic and thereby speed up the process of breaking down and processing these materials. This saves energy and is suitable for use on a small scale. With a focus on measurement, control, and information, Yokogawa Solution Service provides production control systems, instruments, and other solutions that achieve highly efficient and safe operations at all kinds of plants. Its solution for this application centers on an energy management system that can optimize operations by predicting energy demand.

Since August 2022, the two companies have been using a chemical recycling bench plant to investigate ways to improve yield, operating rate, and energy efficiency of a process involving the use of microwaves to thermally break down polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) and convert it into oil. They have verified the feasibility of this process and the methods for implementing it. On the basis of the results that were achieved, the companies concluded an agreement in September for the joint development of a small-scale distributed chemical recycling system.

Microwave Chemical will develop the core apparatus for the small-scale distributed chemical recycling system, and this will have built-in continuous thermal decomposition functionality for PE, PP, and PS (polystyrene). Yokogawa Solution Service will investigate measurement methods for monitoring the state of the thermal decomposition process and performing component analysis and estimation in real time. By making use of modeling technology developed by other companies in the Yokogawa Group, Yokogawa Solution Service will aim to automate the continuous control of the thermal decomposition process in this core apparatus, and thereby optimize this process. To enable the carbon neutral recovery of resources by using renewable energy as the power source for this core apparatus, Yokogawa Solution Service will develop and provide an EMS and an electricity tracking system. Via the cloud, data from these systems on the operating status and state of this core apparatus will be continuously acquired and analyzed to make improvements and reduce maintenance costs.

The plan from FY2023 to FY2024 is to develop prototypes that incorporate input on user needs, and firm up functions and specifications. In FY2025, a commercial small-scale distributed chemical recycling system will be developed with the aim of commercialize this system the following year.

In parallel with the development of this small-scale distributed chemical recycling system, Yokogawa Solution Service and Microwave Chemical intend to form a consortium with retailers, chemical manufacturers, oil companies, and other organizations that are involved in processes ranging from the recovery and transport of discarded plastic to the refining, repolymerization, and distribution of recycled raw materials. By working together with all parties in this supply chain and sharing the use of facilities such as this cloud-based small-scale distributed chemical recycling system, the aim is to realize a carbon neutral society. The two companies will discuss the possible commercialization of this small-scale distributed chemical recycling system.

Siemens Joins Green Software Foundation’s Steering Committee

Software engineers have been telling me lately about how to write code that better utilizes compute power in order to reduce software’s energy bill. I find it interesting the ways that seemingly unrelated parts of a system can coordinate for a better whole. This news release showcases Siemens’ commitment to advancing sustainability through Green Software.

  • Siemens recognizes importance of software in order to advance sustainability and aims to invest in sustainability networks like Green Software Foundation
  • Green Software Foundation focuses on developing energy-efficient systems and infrastructure and aims for green software to become new standard for the future 

Siemens is proud to join the Green Software Foundation (GSF) as a new member of its steering committee to help guide the Foundation’s strategic direction. Siemens’ steadfast commitment to resource efficiency and sustainability aligns with the GSF’s mission to build the tools, knowledge and best practices necessary for reducing software’s environmental footprint.

Siemens technology is enabling enterprises and organizations around the world to increase decarbonization, resource efficiency and contribute to the circular economy. The development of this technology and other software is increasingly contributing to the world’s carbon footprint, which underscores the need for global industrial companies like Siemens to invest in sustainability networks such as the GSF. 

The Foundation focuses on evolving software to be energy-efficient and compatible with complex software systems and infrastructure for information and communication technology. Industrial solutions must meet unique requirements beyond those of traditional enterprise IT systems. These solutions must also take into account cloud-to-edge scenarios, installed base and regulatory compliance – all while maintaining the high standards expected for industrial solutions.

“In the pursuit of sustainability, isolation is costly. We share a common belief that collaboration and collective intelligence will drive systemic shifts toward sustainability in tech. Our Siemens Xcelerator vision fully supports this journey towards sustainable, flexible and open SaaS solutions. In addition, as new technologies emerge, we firmly believe that green software will play a key role in the future,” said Peter Körte, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Strategy Officer of Siemens AG.

Siemens joins Accenture, Avanade, BCG X, GitHub, Globant, Intel, Microsoft, NTT Data, Thoughtworks and UBS to demonstrate leadership in building a culture of green software and to chart the Foundation’s course going forward.

“We’re thrilled to expand GSF’s steering committee with Siemens and we’re hopeful that the contributions its engineers and researchers will make will advance green software patterns and tools compatible with intricate, multi-tiered computing systems for broader industry adoption of green software,” shared Asim Hussain, Chairperson and Executive Director of the GSF.

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