Artificial Intelligence in Sustainability: AI is advantageous to people, animals, and the environment

Why Companies Are Becoming More Sustainable

In the age of sustainability and eco-conscious consumers, companies and brands are aiming to reduce their carbon footprints and trying to reduce their carbon footprints and become active stewards of socially responsible corporate programs. On the other hand, Marketing asserts that it helps consumers by satisfying their wants and needs, but a never-ending quest to satiate wants and needs can increase consumption, which depletes resources, negatively impacts the environment, and contributes to climate change. Yet, we influence businesses’ environmental goals by asking for sustainable products and services and by choosing to work with brands and companies that are focused on sustainability.

According to Harvard Business School, 77% of consumers are motivated to buy from companies that are devoted to making the world a better place, while 73% of investors say that initiatives to enhance the environment and society influence their investment decisions. Additionally, A 2019 Aflac study found that 55% of American consumers think it’s important for companies to take a stand on important social, political, and environmental issues. As a result, it is no surprise that companies with good corporate social responsibility practices have more positive consumer and investor relations. Energy, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation logistics, health care, and medtech are all businesses that are making the world more sustainable and eco-friendly.

In addition, research shows that a whopping 73% of global consumers say that they would definitely or probably change the way they buy things to be more sustainable. People are aware of what they are putting in their carts. Not only are they doing things like thrifting that are better for the environment. They are also worried about how their favorite goods are brought to market. This has made companies think about going green and changing as quickly as they can. This is how AI can help with sustainability.

AI In Sustainability

AI in marketing is a double-edged sword because of the need to protect the environment and the idea of sustainable growth. Artificial intelligence may seem like something from the future, but companies of all sizes are already using AI tools, cloud technology, and machine learning to work better. In essence, AI applications and systems in marketing try to reach sales goals and boost consumption, which has (negative) side effects. For example, the AI-driven recommender systems and collaborative filtering used by Amazon’s e-commerce platform had a relative carbon effect of 122.8 g of CO2 equivalents per dollar of gross goods sales. The largest e-commerce corporation in the world, Amazon, alone is responsible for dozens of tonnes of CO2 emissions each year due to its billions of dollars in annual sales in 2019. (Amazon 2020). Given that Amazon makes billions of dollars in sales every year, the world’s biggest e-commerce company alone is responsible for dozens of tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.

Furthermore, AI in marketing can be a powerful tool for supporting sustainability efforts on both the supply and demand sides. In the same way, AI’s promise to make marketing more sustainable should be used for all four Ps of the marketing mix: product, price, place (distribution), and promotion (communication).

How Companies Are Using AI To Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and the cloud provide industries with powerful tools to reduce energy usage and emissions. Practically, the cloud makes it easier for businesses to collect data, store that data, and process it at a very cheap cost. After that, businesses may utilize AI and machine learning to gain insights. Because of this, in the end, the organization becomes a great deal more astute in terms of making judgments, which converts into a bigger number of opportunities to realize those efficiencies.

Transportation logistics is a huge industry that is currently implementing AI to forecast product demand on a geographic basis in order to enhance distribution networks. According to the Washington Post, truck drivers in the United States travel more than 95 billion miles of highway each year. However, the Washington Post also claims that 40 percent of those miles are traveled with an empty truck, which represents a waste of both time and fuel. The application of AI can assist in planning the most effective utilization of cargo capacity in both directions.

Many manufacturing companies are adopting artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize the operations of their facilities by using sensors to gather data that monitor ventilation, heating, and AC systems in their facilities. Then these systems can be adjusted automatically instead of waiting for human interaction. Additionally, energy companies can use data collected from wind turbines to run simulations and improve operations and maintenance.

Used in the right way, Artificial Intelligence (AI) benefits people, species, and planet

When applied appropriately, artificial intelligence has the potential to aid in the transformation of existing industries and systems in order to combat climate change, ensure food and water security, save biodiversity, and improve the wellness of humans. In point of fact, a recent study conducted by the World Economic Forum discovered that making use of data and AI-powered digital solutions might cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 4% by the year 2030.

Dr. Anand S. Rao, the Global AI Lead at PwC, discusses that the first problem that needs to be considered when thinking about artificial intelligence and how it may be utilized for good is how you define sustainability. “One approach would be to investigate how the United Nations has outlined the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and how AI may be utilized to find solutions to those problems. At the same time, there is a greater emphasis being placed on becoming Net Zero due to the increased surveillance of firms and how companies should be sustainable. Therefore, reducing one’s carbon footprint is one aspect of sustainability; however, if you look at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is a much more comprehensive set of goals that looks at people, followed by species, and the sustainability of the other species, and then also the sustainability of the planet.”

In a speech titled AI & Climate Change, given to the UK government in May 2022, Rao said: “AI for sustainability has primarily received attention for its application in helping achieve sustainability across all 17 SDGs created by the UN, exhibited through efforts such as the AI for Good initiative, with a study finding that AI can enable 79% of targets across the goals.”

At the end of the day, customers have developed the expectation that firms will adhere to ethical standards. The solutions to this problem are typically labor-intensive and time-consuming, requiring human interaction. Here is where AI can be of assistance. Artificial intelligence can serve as the driving force behind these solutions, helping firms achieve their sustainability objectives more quickly.

Ria Pratiwi
Ria Pratiwi
ASEAN Master in Sustainability Management, a collaborative master program designed by Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia and University of Agder, Norway.