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Through Its Exceptional Sustainability Efforts, Atea is Setting a Global Example
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By Ken Phillips
“Among the many lessons learned from today’s global pandemic is that humanity’s choices today determine our future outcomes. In the area of sustainability (and elsewhere), we can always make better choices. And with technology, we have a powerful lever to make those better choices feasible. Thus, we must all show willingness to embrace this kind of change. Starting in 2020 — and building on 10 years of sustainability work — we have embarked on a bold journey that will provide year-on-year momentum towards a circular, carbon neutral and healthy future with the help of IT. We do this because we should and because we can…”
— Steinar Sønsteby, CEO of Atea ASA in the company’s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2020
In May of this year, Atea was recognized by the Financial Times as one of a select group of companies that have made great progress in curbing their greenhouse gases. The largest provider of IT infrastructure in Sweden, Atea serves more than 1,000 commercial and government customers from 35 locations across the nation.
We recently caught up with Chiara Selvetti, head of sustainability, to learn more about the company’s commitment to achieving zero carbon emissions, where gains are being made, and why Atea’s leadership believes it’s crucial to have a plan not only to transition away from fossil fuels, but also to determine what happens to older IT hardware when it is replaced. She also shared her recommendations on steps all organizations can take as they embark on their sustainability journey.
“We are a value-driven company – we are passionate about what we do,” says Selvetti. “We win as a team, and we take personal responsibility while fostering a strong culture that attracts the industry’s biggest hearts and fastest brains. Our mission and our values are key to understanding our sustainability commitment. With our market position, in a region that leads the transition towards net zero across all industries, it is natural for us to build a responsible business strategy and drive a sustainable future with the help of IT.”
Atea works with many large private-sector companies that need cutting-edge IT to be competitive and to do business in new ways. Selvetti notes that Atea helps these industry leaders use their data in strategic ways in a smart and secure infrastructure that delivers an effective and safe digital workplace for employees no matter where there are. But she cautions that it’s not only the proven performance of the company’s IT solutions and services that are behind Atea’s rapid growth.
“We conduct an annual survey in our Atea Sustainability Focus initiative,” adds Selvetti. “In that, hundreds of Nordic IT buyers tell us how they view sustainability and IT, both as it relates to what they do themselves and what they want to see from the industry and their partners. From this we know that IT departments are expected to contribute to the business’s sustainability goals, and among those goals, the environment and climate are at the top… The majority say they prioritize sustainability when purchasing IT.”
With that being the case, Atea’s success should come as no surprise. The company was the first IT infrastructure reseller in Europe to join the Responsible Business Alliance. It also decreased its CO2 emissions since 2019 by nearly 30% and reused and recycled 453,210 units and products last year. The company has also been a UN Global Compact Signatory since 2010, and it received a Platinum CSR rating by EcoVadis for the second year in a row.
“Increased digitization has the potential to reduce global emissions by 30%, radically transforming the way we produce, consume, travel, and eat,” Selvetti says. “Cloud technologies are critical to ensure sustainability of such digitalization. Energy efficiency is a necessary but not sufficient condition for this to occur. All cloud technologies need to be powered by renewables too. For both reasons, we are very much committed to our partnership with VMware. We rely on VMware technologies, and we share the same vision for a zero-carbon future.”
Selvetti notes that one customer, a Swedish manufacturer of electrical systems, offers a great example. The company recently achieved an annual electricity savings of 66% by switching to Atea’s cloud.
“We also want to achieve a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030,” she says. “This includes phasing out the use of fossil fuels, reducing air travel, and cutting our transport emissions in half while also using 100% renewables. It’s also important to note that we are committed to taking back 100% of the devices and hardware we replace in order to effectively recycle them. To that end, we established what we call the 100% Club, and it already has 400 members who have committed to that same ideal.”
Selvetti has the following recommendations for other IT companies that want to make sustainability a focal point of their operations.
“Make the issue of climate change and your commitment to addressing it visible in your organization and integrate it with your finances,” she stresses. “Then find and use your leverage. The transformation to a zero-carbon world requires changes throughout numerous ecosystems. Find where your organization has real leverage and make it happen.”
Learn more about Atea and its partnership with VMware here.