Intel eyes 100 percent renewable energy, zero waste by 2030

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Intel publishes Q4 results and sees growth.

As an industry leader in the semiconductor world, Intel always strives to stay at the forefront of whatever it’s doing. That includes protecting the environment. On Thursday, Intel outlined its latest environmental goals with a forward-looking timeline of 2030.

Notably, the semiconductor maker is eyeing a target of running on 100 percent renewable energy and producing zero waste by the end of the decade. On top of this, Intel is outlining a series of challenges for the entire industry to address. It hopes that a united approach can help spark positive global change in the coming years.

Reflecting on Success

It’s no secret that the tech industry isn’t gentle on the environment. Things like harmful materials used in chip production and e-waste from aging devices are big problems facing the world today.

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Fortunately, companies like Intel are stepping up to combat these issues. This isn’t a new occurrence either. Along with outlining its new goals, Intel took a moment to reflect on its previous ones.

The chipmaker has hit many of the targets it set for 2020. That includes recycling more than 90 percent of the trash it creates and sending virtually no hazardous waste to landfills. Moreover, Intel’s greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by approximately 30 percent since 2010. It was also able to cut down on water usage, decreasing its consumption by 38 percent. Intel notes that it has saved 44 billion gallons of water in the past decade.

Suzanne Fallender, Intel’s director of corporate responsibility says, “What runs through all of this is that it’s really an integrated approach across all of Intel at all levels of the organization, it’s tied back to our purpose as a company.”

Killing Carbon

One of the chipmaker’s biggest environmental goals for this decade is to continue reducing its carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a goal shared by much of the tech industry and indeed by the world as a whole.

Intel plans to cut down carbon dioxide emissions from its factories by a further 10 percent. In 2019, those emissions equaled roughly 2.79 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. While that sounds like a lot, it’s actually less than one coal plant produces in a year.

Globally, Intel purchases enough renewable energy to cover approximately 70 percent of its electricity use—including its entire U.S. and European operations.

As such, the majority of Intel’s emissions no longer come from its factories. Rather, the carbon dioxide is coming from indirect routes like its supply chain and from consumers using its products. Understandably, cutting back on these emissions is more challenging than making a production plant green.

Still, Intel is making an effort. Its CEO, Bob Swan, says, “Intel and many others in technology-driven industries see the opportunity to leverage our R&D, creativity, expertise and influence to collaborate on these critical issues and will become even stronger and more relevant as a result.”

Notably, Intel seeks to accomplish its carbon-cutting goals by making computing more efficient. It plans to do this by working with PC manufacturers who use its chips. Fallender notes, “We think we can take that to a whole other level in looking at sustainability factors. We know that our customers in that space are also having strong aspirations there so we think there’s a lot of great opportunity for collaboration.”

Beyond the Walls

The coronavirus pandemic has made many things apparent. One of these is that the efforts of a singular company aren’t enough to spark lasting global change. Intel, despite its massive size, recognizes this.

Swan says, “The world is facing challenges that we understand better each day as we collect and analyze more data, but they go unchecked without a collective response – from climate change to deep digital divides around the world to the current pandemic that has fundamentally changed all our lives.”

He adds, “We can solve them, but only by working together.”

Accordingly, Intel is outlining goals for the entire industry that will help serve as a roadmap for positive change in the next decade. Its approach is threefold.

No doubt related to the current pandemic and the emergence of smarter health tech in recent years, Intel aims to “revolutionize health and safety with technology.”

While this does encompass things related to COVID-19, it also goes much further. Intel plans to work with various partners to apply its technology in ways that create cures and testing while improving quality of life. On top of this, Intel will lead a global coalition focused on the safety of autonomous vehicles.

Secondly, the chipmaker seeks to “achieve carbon-neutral computing to address climate change.” While it has already outlined a plan to do this, it challenges other companies, governments, and organizations to do the same. Intel’s efforts to decrease its emissions are noble. However, they aren’t enough to make an impact on their own. Everyone will need to do their part to address the climate issues facing the world today.

Intel’s third goal is one that is long overdue in the tech world. It aims to “make technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness.”

As a company, Intel has its sights set on doubling the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles. Outside of its walls, the chipmaker will work with other companies to help “accelerate adoption of inclusive business practices across industries.” It will do this by creating a Global Inclusion Index to help track common metrics related to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Meanwhile, Intel also aims to partner with governments and communities to address the digital divide. It will do so in 30 countries and with 30,000 institutions around the world to provide AI skills training to more than 30 million people.

Thanks to Intel’s efforts, the future of tech looks bright. Due to the fact that it is focusing on impacting change outside of its organization, it is even brighter.

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