Server rack closeup.

The report from Blancco suggests companies that don’t properly manage their data footprints risk violating upcoming sustainability regulations. | Basiczto/Shutterstock

The environmental impact of data footprints is an important but largely overlooked piece of corporate sustainability, research from Blancco suggested. 

A recently released study from the data security company surveyed 1,800 high-level IT or compliance managers from companies around the globe, finding that 88% of businesses claimed environmental sustainability had a high-to-moderate influence on their approach to processing end-of-life data, but 39% did not have a plan in place to reduce their data footprints. 

That leaves them “at risk of compliance failures in light of upcoming sustainability regulations,” a press release noted. 

“With a global push for better environmental stewardship from all industries, regulators are cracking down on green efforts that sound impressive but do very little and fall into the greenwashing category,” the press release added. 

A previous report from Blancco found that when organizations switched to cloud-based storage, 65% reported an increase in the volume of redundant, obsolete or trivial data they collect, which means more costs for storage and higher energy use.

The report said while data storage “may not seem an obvious climate villain,” paring it down can go a long way toward lowering emissions.

“Incorporating strategies to reduce data footprints that align with sustainability goals and cost reduction must be a matter of priority.”
–Jon Mellon, president of global sales, Blancco

“Hoarded data also comes with an environmental cost: both the e-waste produced by the need to source and replace hardware and the energy costs necessary to power both on-premise and cloud infrastructure,” the report explained. 

The most current report suggested reducing that redundant, obsolete or trivial data, limiting e-scrap generation and working with partners that are also sustainability-focused to address the issue. 

Jon Mellon, president of global sales, marketing and field operations at Blancco, said in the press release that “businesses can’t afford to pay lip service to sustainability with impending regulation coupled with the financial and environmental costs of storing too much data.” 

“While the scale of change required to address the climate crisis may seem daunting, it is an opportunity for ambitious climate action and even competitive differentiation,” he added, and “incorporating strategies to reduce data footprints that align with sustainability goals and cost reduction must be a matter of priority.” 

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