Creating a vision for the future of eco-efficient workplace technologies

By Minoru Usui, Seiko Epson President

Creating a vision for the future of eco-efficient workplace technologies

Today, sustainability is top of mind for many business executives at all levels. According to a 2014 McKinsey&Company survey, 43 percent of executives say their companies seek to align sustainability with their overall business goals, mission, or values, up from 30 percent who said so in 2012.[1] What’s more, 53 percent of all companies recognized as sustainability leaders based on their performance on core sustainability activities relative to industry peers, set aggressive external targets or goals for their sustainability initiatives.[2]

Faced with the pressure to provide tangible evidence to external stakeholders, companies are increasingly looking to integrate sustainability initiatives into their core business operations by replacing older, inefficient IT equipment. Making the switch to newer, greener products not only helps the environment but can also result in significant business benefits, including cost savings and even boosting employee morale.

We work hard to develop solutions that help businesses ‘go green’ without sacrificing on cutting-edge technology that gives them the competitive edge. From its origins as a watchmaker, Epson has specialised in developing its original ‘Sho Sho Sei’ (compact, efficient, high precision) technologies and manufacturing products based on the traditional Japanese principles of ‘Monozukuri’ (the art and science of manufacturing). These ‘Sho Sho Sei’ technologies are the foundation of all our products and enable us to develop smaller, lighter and more energy-efficient products that offer outstanding accuracy and performance. 

In this respect, one of our most significant achievements has been the adaptation of our industrial-grade Micro Piezo inkjet technology, which employs expert miniaturisation of mechanical and electro-mechanical elements (MEMS), to the Epson PrecisionCore print head. This technology allowed us to make office and industrial printers that can fire a wide variety of liquids in exact quantities with precision accuracy.

In 2014 we introduced our WorkForce Pro RIPS range of business inkjet printers using our PrecisionCore technology and an innovative new high-capacity replaceable ink pack system (RIPS) which minimizes the need for replacing consumables. These printers far surpass the incumbent laser printer in terms of green benefits for business printer fleets. Our WorkForce Pro RIPS printers can print up to 75,000 pages without the need for a consumables change. They deliver 96% energy savings, 92% CO2 emissions reduction and 95% less waste when compared to similar laser printers[3].

Our ambitions, however, go beyond the technology that reduces the environmental impact of our products. We want to fundamentally change the behaviour and businesses of our customers by providing products, services, and functions to enable a more efficient office and a better and more sustainable future. To this end, we announced the introduction of PaperLab, the world’s first compact office papermaking system that produces new paper from securely shredded waste paper without the use of water. We hope that PaperLab will not only convert used paper into new paper, but change the way we think about printing in offices and workplaces around the world. Essentially, this technology creates a new dynamic in the office printing eco-system that is more efficient and stimulates recycling.

But the best could be yet to come: we will continue to refine our technologies across our four innovation areas (inkjet, visual communication, wearables, and robotics) to increase the value provided to our customers and to enhance our contribution to environmental improvements. In fact, we invest $1.3 million every day into R&D, resulting in around 5,000 patents being registered each year.  At the last count, we held over 50,000 live patents.On a corporate level, Epson has a long history of environmental excellence. In 1988, we became the world's first company to announce that it would eliminate ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from its operations and we were recognized for our efforts by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 1992. In response to the increasingly serious issue of global warming, we cemented our long-term commitment to the environment by establishing our ‘Environmental Vision 2050’ in 2008. As part of our vision, we have pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 90% across the entire product life cycle; eliminate all gas emissions other than CO2 that contribute to global warming; initiate projects that will restore and protect biodiversity; and ensure all of our products are included in the resource and reuse recycling loop. Our targets are ambitious but the scale of the environmental challenges our world faces requires strong responses and we want to continue to be leaders in making a difference.

By reducing the environmental impact across our products, services, and all areas of our business operations, we will continue to help our customers to meet their environmental targets and create a vision for the future. A vision, however, can only be achieved when it's backed up by action, which is why I urge businesses to spend more time thinking about how they can integrate more eco-efficient workplace technology into their sustainability agenda.

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