FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. has released the results of a global environmental awareness survey that found that while the majority (83%) of respondents cite Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) services and equipment as a sustainability priority, more than one-third (38%) of U.S. business leaders are either unaware or unsure of how inefficient data storage can negatively impact the environment.

The study, titled Awareness Survey on Environmental Issues in the Digital Domain, surveyed 1,200 C-suite executives in four countries: Japan, the U.S., Germany and China. While there is a sense of growing awareness around broader environmental issues among corporate leaders, the findings highlight a gap in education that must be bridged to address inefficient energy consumption in ICT operations. For example, while the majority of U.S. respondents believe sustainability improvements in ICT services and equipment can positively impact a changing climate, 40% indicated that they did not know or were unsure if data storage can have a negative environmental impact and increase the cost of doing business.

The need for large-scale data storage is on the rise and is expected to reach more than 11 zettabytes (or 11 trillion gigabytes) by 2025, according to a recent whitepaper by IDC. As demand rises, so too does the need for energy efficient data storage. The environmental impact of the energy required to support this volume of storage is vastly underestimated, as are the subsequent carbon emissions. In fact, when asked in the survey what barriers exist for those who have not considered more eco-friendly data storage options, globally more than one-third (34%) and 31% in the U.S. cited a lack of awareness or understanding of the issue.

“We have clearly seen that with the increase in data storage in recent years, the energy consumed by data centers has increased at an alarming rate. Our survey shows that we still have a long way to go in terms of optimizing data management to decrease impact on the environment,” said Hironobu Taketomi, president, FUJIFILM Recording Media U.S.A., Inc. “Fujifilm looks forward to working with other industry stakeholders to identify solutions, such as tape storage, that can help mitigate carbon emissions from storing data, which will help support the technical area of the United Nations Paris Agreement framework designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.”

Additional findings among U.S. respondents include:

  • While most respondents indicated that sustainability plays an important role in decision-making, 16% said that it did not and 22% of those surveyed shared that their companies do not take any measures toward reducing carbon emissions.
  • More than half (51%) of participants said that their companies are using renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, while 22% said they are doing so via climate protection projects and 13% through carbon offsets.
  • Manufacturing (21%) and supply chain/transportation (21%) were perceived as the business areas that contributed the most to carbon emissions, versus 12% for data storage/management.
  • There was also a knowledge gap pertaining to frequently accessed “hot” data and less frequently accessed “cold” data, with more than one-third (36%) of respondents saying they either don’t or are unsure if they differentiate between the two. And 35% don’t realize that differentiating between hot and cold data can impact sustainability, affordability and security.
  • The vast majority of U.S. respondents (84%) indicated ICT services and equipment as priority areas for their organization to positively impact climate change, followed by recycling/waste (80%), facilities energy consumption (78%), and employee and customer awareness (78%).
  • When asked about barriers to adopting more sustainable data storage strategies, respondents cited lack of awareness (31%) as the top reason for not making a change, followed by too much work (30%) and budget (26%).
  • Additionally, a clear majority of respondents (81%) noted that they would consider an alternative data storage option that is more sustainable and affordable.

The survey is the latest initiative from Fujifilm supporting the environmental benefits of tape storage. In September, the company announced the launch of its LTO Ultrium 9 Data Cartridge, providing long-term data storage and increased capacity while continuing to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This was followed by the October launch of the Sustainable Data Storage Initiative, focusing on the benefits of tape technology to decrease energy use and CO2 emissions from data storage.

For example, alternative options for storage include LTO data tape. Migrating cold data from hard disk drive to tape can reduce data centers’ CO2 emissions by 43.7% by 2030, avoiding 664 million metric tons of CO2 cumulatively, according to IDC.

To contact the author of this article, email GlobalSpeceditors@globalspec.com