How four businesses are signing up for a more sustainable future

Adobe helping businesses sign up for a more sustainable future

The first Earth Day took place on April 22nd 1970. It was then that the modern environmental movement was born and, more than 50 years later, is transforming the world. And that movement has grown from the fringes of society to the mainstream, with public consciousness of the impact we have on our fragile planet growing exponentially.

This has pulled sustainability into sharp focus for business leaders and the general public. Our CEO, Shantanu Narayen, recently said that technology can transform lives, lift up communities, and create a more sustainable future. This struck a chord with me because a sustainable future is something that binds many of us and our families. It’s a value and shared belief that we advocate and, from a business perspective, it has rightly become a top boardroom issue, shaping financial markets and investment strategies for businesses of all sizes around the world.

Personally, I was delighted to learn that the use of digital workflow technologies has the ability to reduce environmental impact by 95%, while cutting millions of pounds in costs. While there is more work that we can all do, both personally and as business leaders to improve our environmental habits and strategies, here is a snapshot of four companies, from very different industries, which are making great strides by digitising their practices to improve operations and drive positive change.

ITV – signing up for sustainability

ITV has set out to make the biggest shows with the smallest environmental footprint. That includes an ambitious commitment to achieve zero waste by 2030, a goal supported by the network’s newly formed ‘Green Team’; a taskforce that instils sustainable practices across the business.

The network’s HR, Procurement and Legal departments printed an estimated 16 million sheets of paper every year, producing documents for its wide range of TV shows. Considering its sustainability goals, that had to change. So, ITV switched to digital signatures for some of its biggest shows.

“Adobe Acrobat Sign has been great for ITV – not only in helping us to adjust to remote working and modernise our processes, but also in helping with our environmental priorities by reducing the amount of paper and couriers we use,” said Allan Smith, Controller of Rights Governance, ITV plc.

In 2020 alone, ITV estimates it saved almost 1.5 million sheets of paper by using Acrobat Sign for the digital signing of documents for shows such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Saturday Night Takeaway and Love Island. That translates to environmental savings of more than 600K litres of water or over 4000kg of waste, helping to pave the way towards the network’s ambitious sustainability goals.

NatWest Group – banking on technology for a paperless future

Through its brands such as NatWest, Ulster Bank and Coutts, the NatWest Group serves 19 million individuals and businesses across the UK and Ireland. The group aims to become a climate change leader by working to make its operations climate positive by 2025, but as part of a regulated industry, NatWest Group businesses can struggle to balance the need for compliant paperwork with the desire to achieve sustainability goals. That’s why the group decided to encourage the adoption of e-signatures across its banks.

“Moving towards a paperless environment can have a huge effect on the bank,” said Vineet Manuja, Head of Business Automation Services, India, NatWest Group. “Digital services help us to reduce operational costs, accelerate business processes, simplify and improve customer experiences and meet sustainability goals. All of this aligns with our purpose-led, core principles at NatWest Group.”

With Acrobat Sign supporting more digital workflows, NatWest Group has already saved 9 million sheets of paper, 960k gallons of water and 336k pounds of wood.

Lookers – driving sustainable practices

When the Covid-19 pandemic closed car showrooms across the country, British car automotive retailer, Lookers, used Acrobat Sign to create a fully digital, contactless purchasing experience that enabled customers to purchase vehicles remotely.

“Where a typical sales process previously required 80 sheets of paper and as many as 17 wet signatures, our customers can now handle the entire experience on their computers or mobiles, with no need to visit a dealership,” said Lee Wheatley, Business Relationship Manager, Lookers.

The “Click and Drive” programme has not only provided Lookers’ customers with a seamless and secure, paperless buying journey, but also serves to reduce the automotive retailer’s carbon footprint, saving 16 million sheets of paper per year – equivalent to 6.5 million litres of water or 270,700kg of wood.

Norfolk County Council – going paperless to cut carbon impact

In line with its goal to achieve net zero carbon impact by 2030, eliminating paper and printing by switching to paperless workflows has been a cornerstone of Norfolk County Council’s effort to cut its costs and environment impact.

E-signatures were always a part of the council’s plans, but the COVID-19 pandemic meant it had to move much faster than expected to digitize paperwork and keep the county’s services running.

With help from digital technology like Acrobat Sign, the council now saves hundreds of hours each month by automating signing and sealing workflows and is also making huge strides towards its sustainability goals. In the last 12 months alone, the council has reduced its print volumes by more than 75% and could soon become a truly paperless organisation.

“Norfolk County Council is embracing the changing world; we have an opportunity to do things differently and be demonstrably innovative and more sustainable. This means transforming from old ways of working to digital services, which allows us to increase flexibility, reduce costs and minimise our carbon footprint at the same time. We are transforming the way we work and how we deliver our services for now and the future.”

Earth Day is a reminder of the challenges we still face, how we can all make conscious changes and the possibilities that businesses can unlock. Faced with adversity in 2020, we saw the potential of human ingenuity and resilience. Now, we need to tap into that same mentality to deliver more sustainable practices.

What the stories of these four organisations signalled to me is that no matter your size or industry, there are simple steps we all can take to drive change and impact. Crucially, technology lies at the heart of this progress.

Visit our sustainability hub to see how businesses can use technology to transform outdated processes and foster better business operations, while reducing costs and environmental footprint.

We all have the power and opportunity to effect change. Let’s build a more sustainable future for all, together.