Britain falling behind Europe on green IT

UK businesses are falling behind their European counterparts when it comes to sustainable IT purchasing, according to a study by HP.

Research that questioned 2,000 interviewees across Europe found that only 16 per cent of UK businesses have a formal policy in place.

That figure compares with an average of 29 per cent of firms within Europe, with France leading the way thanks to the 46 per cent of French small businesses and large enterprises that have a green procurement policy.

"One of the things we found in the UK specifically is that those in charge of procurement don't really look for environmental factors a lot of the time," said Bruno Zago, HP's environment manager for UK and Ireland.

Zago said that a lot of the large enterprises HP deals with send out questionnaires asking about his company's environmental policy, its attitude to carbon and how it is managing the supply chain.

"However, when you ask them how heavily they weight that, the heaviest I've ever seen is about 10 per cent in a contract. It's usually five per cent or below and that goes across enterprise and public sector as well," he added.

The UK's poor showing seems to contradict a Microsoft-backed study that claims UK IT professionals are stealing a march on their US and German counterparts when it comes to green issues.

Also, the 45 per cent of European companies who are taking environmental issues into account when it comes to their spending, shows that the issue has remained static over the past couple of years.

A similar study carried out by HP in 2007 found that 43 per cent of companies had a green procurement policy in place, just two per cent lower than the 2009 research.

Zago said that even decisions taken for their green benefits may not actually see the big results companies expected.

"The ability to print double sided seems to be a very important purchasing decision," he said.

"But actually, when you start to talk to the users - because the survey was split into two, it was done on decision makers and users - only about 50 per cent of them are actually using double sided."