Companies are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of avoiding so-called greenwashing, but new research reveals that 40% of UK businesses rely on assumptions and estimates, not hard data to support their eco-credentials.

That is according to business and software solutions provider SAP’s new sustainability report. The researchers polled 328 respondents from across the UK, working across 29 different industries, earlier this year.

Data is essential for tech businesses to stay environmentally sustainable in its operations, the report argues.

“Only through data can businesses design products sustainably, stay compliant with environmental regulations and obligations – like plastic taxes – and build a regenerative business model in a circular economy,” Stephen Jamieson, global head of circular economy at SAP, tells Verdict.

“Understanding where materials originate, where and how they are manufactured and distributed, what happens to that product as it’s sold across the supply chain and after the end customer has used it, will be critical for businesses to understand their level of exposure, and subsequently the role they play in improving environmental sustainability.”

The paper also noted that 90% of UK business leaders now link long-term profitability with environmental sustainability. This trend can be seen in the technology space.

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“A lot of technology companies [are] looking at the [environmental] impact of their devices, and their hardware,” Gemma Baker, sustainability managing director at tech giant Accenture, tells Verdict. “So, you are starting to see a lot more of a circular economy in the technology space.”

Baker says tech is acknowledging the need to improve its environmental data analysis. This could help reduce e-waste from data centre emissions. It would help in tech companies in areas such as agriculture, automotives and retail.

The news comes in the same week as the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority proposed a package of new measures including investment product sustainability labels and restrictions on how terms like “ESG”, “green” or “sustainable” can be used.

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.