Consumers Threaten to Abandon Businesses That Pollute by Hoarding Unnecessary Data

3 mins read

31 March 2023

Nearly half of the consumers said they would stop buying from companies willfully causing environmental damage by failing to control how much unneeded data they are storing.

Veritas Technologies, the leader in secure multi-cloud data  management, today announced a new research which indicates that more than half (58%)  of consumers in Singapore (49% globally) think it’s the responsibility of the organisations  that store their information online to delete it when it’s no longer needed. They’re also prepared to vote with their feet if businesses don’t cut back on data-related pollution:  nearly half (47% globally and 48% in Singapore) said they would stop buying from a  company if they knew it was willfully causing environmental damage by failing to control  how much unnecessary or unwanted data it is storing. 

The research, which polled 13,000 consumers from 11 countries around the world, also  found that half of the respondents from Singapore (46% globally) said it concerns them that  2% of global energy-related pollution emissions are caused by data centres. In response, nearly two-thirds (66%) of consumers in Singapore (59% globally) said they would like to see  more focus from organisations on controlling the negative impact of online data storage on  the environment. This could include organisations encouraging their customers to close  unused or inactive accounts and guidance on deleting obsolete information they no longer  need or want.  

Andy Ng, Vice President and Managing Director of Asia South and Pacific Region at Veritas  Technologies, said: “To lead the way for Singapore’s decarbonisation journey, business  leaders need to be more conscious about the environmental impact – burgeoning but often  overlooked – of their business operations. Data centres run 24 hours a day and by 2030 are  expected to use as much as 8% of all electricity on the planet. It’s easy to forget that data  centres are mostly fossil fuel-powered and generate about the same amount of CO2 as the  airline industry.” 

The new research also found that half of consumers ((51% globally and 52% in Singapore)  said it concerns them that online data storage wastes energy and produces environmental  pollution when, on average, half of the data enterprises store is redundant, obsolete or  trivial (ROT) and another 35% is “dark” with unknown value, that according to separate  Veritas research in which IT decision makers globally reported the percentages of ROT, dark  and business critical data within their organisations.  

Ng added: “Organisations should not accept ROT or dark data as a logical consequence of  digitalisation. With many consumers feeling passionately about reducing their carbon  footprint, organisations should start using a green lens to assess their data management  practices, even if they are outsourcing their storage to public cloud providers. In fact, the  average organisation is still causing more pollution by storing data they know is not needed  than data they believe to be useful—on average, just 15% of data stored globally is business  critical. With half of customers saying they would stop buying from companies that fail get a 

grip on the challenge, the risk for both businesses and the environment of not identifying  and eliminating unneeded data is too great to ignore any longer.” 

Survey Methodology  

The survey, conducted by 3Gem on behalf of Veritas, polled 13,000 consumers across Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK, USA and Japan  between February 1-16, 2023. 

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