The state of the green IT economy

Epson's Davis also felt that some projects have been put on hold, but at a hidden cost. "Inevitably the roll out of greener products will have slowed during the recession as the replacement of older products is deferred but this could be a false economy," he said.

"Where new products are purchased they will generally be more energy efficient than the product being replaced. This may seem counter-intuitive, but replacing an old printer fleet could save a company money," Davis added.

"There has been understandable concern that depleted budgets and changing priorities could now make the environment the greatest casualty of the economic downturn," adds Eelco Smit, environmental affairs manager of Epson Europe.

"But I believe the most pessimistic predictions are wrong. In fact, the current financial crisis could create a context in which even greater efforts are made to tackle climate change, not less."

Government regulations

Whatever the realities of the economic effects on a move to greener technologies, some of the changes happening now are coming about because of government legislation.

Opinions differ on whether this is the best way to push the green agenda.

"Does legislation stifle innovation? I would agree that it does," claims HP's Zago. "If all you have to do is meet this criteria, then you're going to find that a lot of people just get to this point and stay there and won't innovate and try and take things forward."

"This is the self regulation question," says Gartner's Millman. "On the whole many industries can and do come up with workable solutions without recourse to imposed regulation from outside and these schemes can make a bit of a difference. But some industries do need a push from outside to get them to change their ways."

"Unfortunately there will always be some companies who have to be pushed by legislation to make improvements to their products and operation," agrees Epson's Davis. "But those leading in their field see it is not just a duty but an opportunity to improve their green credentials."

Getting users on-side

Whether innovation comes from production improvements or through legislation, there is still one other major hurdle to overcome before the promise of a greener business can be achieved: the users.