Reducing your information footprint

John Culkin on how GDPR will help companies mitigate environmental impacts of their data.


Paperless has been a byword in office environmentalism for years now. However, going digital doesn’t equate to going carbon neutral, especially when you’re storing more data than you need. John Culkin, Director of Information Management at Crown Records Management, recommends that you use your journey towards General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance as an opportunity to cut your data-related carbon footprint.

Datacenters account for three percent of global energy use - does you company need all the data it stores?

Datacenters account for three percent of global energy use, and two percent of global greenhouse gas emissions; that’s around the same percentage as air travel – an established enemy of environmentalism. “The amount of data we produce is growing dramatically, so that figure for energy use is expected to treble within the next decade. Businesses need to get a handle on what they’re storing and the GDPR is a great impetus for that,” says John. 

He adds, “It’s no different to the boxes of paper all offices used to produce. They needed to go into a storage space and that space needed to be heated and lit. Now those documents are digital and they’re usually spinning on hard drives in datacenters with running air conditioning.” John advises that businesses start thinking about their data use as a cost and put procedures in place to keep that cost in check. “Information is a cost and a lot of that cost can be mitigated if it’s handled sensibly.”

An estimated 90 percent of the data we store is unstructured, but when GDPR officially comes into force in May 2018, the onus will be on companies to know what data they have, why they’ve got it and how they’re using it. “Just asking these three questions – what, why and how – will dramatically reduce storage needs for most companies,” John explains. “While the GDPR may seem like a hassle now, its environmental and cost benefits will quickly become clear once businesses start taking action. The sooner that happens, the better.”

If you feel your company could benefit from an information audit, contact Crown Records Management.