A Sustainability Discussion with Computing Industry Leaders: Seizing the Opportunity for Innovation

I recently had the pleasure of joining a panel with sustainability practitioners from the computing industry for a discussion titled, “Driving Decarbonization in Turbulent Times and Beyond” at the Responsible Business Summit. The discussion was hosted by Reuters and moderated by Brian Carey, Managing Director, Sustainability Solutions, ENGIE Impact. Joining me as panelists were Prakash Arunkundrum, Head of Global Operations and Sustainability at Logitech and Page Motes, Director of Sustainability at Dell. Topics ranged from the use of data in assessing sustainability risks to engaging suppliers in sustainability objectives, as well as the use of financing mechanisms to accelerate sustainability progress.

As each panelist discussed the various sustainability objectives and initiatives our companies are undertaking, it became very clear that many businesses in our industry are innovating to improve not only their footprint but those of their value chain—suppliers and customers. At Applied Materials, we refer to our sustainability framework as 1x-100x-10,000x, which represents our own operations (1x), how we work with customers and suppliers (100x), and how our technology can be used to advance sustainability on a global scale (10,000x). Applied’s efforts to strengthen the environmental and social sustainability of our supply chain, or SuCCESS2030, and to improve the efficiency of our products, known as the “3 by 30” goals, are leading-edge ways our company is helping drive improved sustainability across the industry. It was encouraging to hear how my fellow panelists and other companies at the summit are also looking at sustainability from a holistic view. Having like-minded travelers on the journey to greater sustainability benefits everyone in the industry.

Another key insight of the discussion was that issues such as climate change and water use are not only challenges to our business, but also opportunities. By developing ever-more efficient products—the 3 by 30 goals call for Applied’s manufacturing systems to use 30% less energy and 30% fewer chemicals while increasing output efficiency 30% by 2030—we have an opportunity to differentiate our product offering and help our customers meet their own sustainability objectives. In many ways this is a virtuous circle as more efficient products can drive down the overall energy consumption of technology.

I started my remarks on the panel by noting that artificial intelligence is the biggest technology inflection of the next decade, projected to create trillions of dollars in economic value by 2030. But if we don’t act now to improve the efficiency of delivering AI, then energy use for AI data centers could grow from about 2% of global electricity supply today to more than 15% in less than a decade. The panel discussion more than reinforced that risk, as well as the enormous opportunity our industry has in meeting the challenge. As evidenced by the many bold moves we’ve implemented over the past year, Applied Materials is excited to help lead the way.

A replay of the full sustainability discussion can be viewed here.

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