Why Green Options Are Not Always Best For The Business?
It was in 1984 pop singer Madonna in her music declared – we live in a material world. She had made this point because during that decade the desire to own the material stuff as much as possible was very high. Your music and software was recorded on plastic or metal. Literature, letters, news and memos from one office to another were printed in ink using paper. To have face to face chat with CEO, grandparent or client living on the other side of the world one had to go physically to that part of the world with the help of airplane or train as per the budget afforded.
Now there is a change in the world since then. The mode of transport for loads of books, CDs, business reports and newspapers which were trucks and airplanes has been replaced by electronic files through internet. Teleconferencing or web conferencing has made it possible to have virtual meetings. The trend has given opportunities to save money to both businesses and customers. On going deeper into the issue it will be found that digital delivery at times can be worse than physical delivery.
In a report about different delivery methods of music, the authors have compared the impact of six music-delivery methods right from going to the music store physically for purchasing music CD to the latest trend of downloading a digital album without burning CD.
The authors conclude in their report that – purchasing music digitally with the aid of internet help to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) and energy emissions by about 40 to 80 percent when compared with physical CD delivery. This reduction is brought because of exclusion of CDs, their packaging and physical delivery to the household. Thus online delivery is very clearly superior when compared with traditional CD distribution.
Dematerialization is a clear win-win situation for music industry. The digital downloads produces cleaner, greener and more efficient supply chain in place of physical CDs. The same can be said about newspaper, magazines or books that can be converted to digital file and sent through internet. But dematerialization has not helped the end user in terms of cost in very case. The authors have found that in some instants the digital download method is at par with physical purchase of music CDs.
If the file size is of 260 MB to download then download and burn alternative is very identical to CD scenario using e-commerce as there is increased energy used in downloading. Also the album brought from the store is much better than the one downloaded from internet and taken on CD. In other words dematerialization has not provided every thing to the customer, one of the most important aspects of green technology should be – deliver at par or more service with fewer resources.
Applying the realities to other green technologies, from environmental or financial point of view printer documents are not better than electronic documents since the investment in ink, paper or printers can be avoided in latter option of the two. But end user may be comfortable using a printed document instead of reading from the monitor. Similarly there are instances in which a CEO is more comfortable meeting with employees or shareholders face to face instead of interacting through conference call or videoconference.
The report “The Energy and Climate Change Impacts of Different Music Delivery Methods” has raised a very basic question that overlooking productivity and other business benefits for the sake of environmental benefits is not always advisable. Before accepting any green technology it is mandatory to take all the factors into account.