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Keeping a lower profile: How firms can reduce their digital carbon footprints
Purpose: In the pursuit of net-zero, the decarbonization activities of organizations is a critical feature of any sustainability strategy. Government policy and recent technological innovations do not address the digital carbon footprint of organizations, however. The article presents the concept of single-use dark data and how knowledge reuse by organizations is a means to digital decarbonization.
Design/methodology/approach: Businesses in all sectors must contribute to reducing digital carbon emissions globally and the article is the first to examine ‘how’ from a knowledge (re)use perspective. Drawing on insights from the knowledge creation process, the article presents a set of pathways to greater knowledge reuse for the reduction of organizations’ digital carbon footprint.
Findings: Businesses continually collect, process and store knowledge, but generally fail to reuse these knowledge assets—referred to as dark data. Consequently, this dark data has a huge impact on energy use and global emissions. Our model is the first to show explicit pathways that businesses can follow to sustainable knowledge practices.
Originality: Two critical questions are facing businesses: how can decarbonization be achieved? And can it be achieved at low-cost? Awareness of the damaging impact digitalisation may be having on the environment is in its infancy, yet knowledge reuse is a proactive and cost-effective route to reduce carbon emissions, which is explored in the article.
Practical implications: If businesses are to be proactive in their collective pursuit of net-zero then it becomes paramount that reducing the digital carbon footprint becomes a key sustainability target. The article presents how this might be accomplished, offering practical and actionable guidance to businesses for digital decarbonization.
- Business and Economics