On the sustainability of the electronic signature​

Nowadays, the concept of sustainability is on everyone's lips, so much so that this term is already being used inflationarily and has meanwhile become more of a marketing shell without any real meaning.

Whether products, food, energy transition or travel, everything should be sustainable in some way. Therefore, in this article we want to address the fundamental meaning of this term in the context of electronic signatures and clarify a few questions in this regard. On the one hand, with what is currently already being saved, but also where the potential still lies in view of future developments. This leads us to the first question:

What is meant by sustainability?

The term sustainability is actually not a new concept, but goes back to the German Freiberg chief miner Hans Carl von Carlowitz (1645-1714), who transferred it to forestry in his book “Sylvicultura oeconomica, oder haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisung zur wilden Baum-Zucht” of 1713. The creation of a stable equilibrium was the goal to be achieved.

His basic idea was that only as many trees should be cut down in a forest as can grow back in that forest in the foreseeable future. This coincides with the current general definition as found in the Duden: “Principle according to which no more may be consumed than can grow back at any one time, regenerate, be made available again in the future.”

Since our technology is digital, it is ultimately based on electricity, which must therefore be produced accordingly. Before we get to electricity and the framework conditions for its production, let’s first take a look at the obvious:

The saving of water and paper

We are moving in a digital framework, i.e. our technology is a prerequisite for the goal of a paperless office. Accordingly, we are talking about, among other things, digital contracts or, more generally, documents of any kind that no longer need to be printed out. For example, a Green Party question to the German government in 2019 revealed that Germany ranks fourth in terms of paper consumption in the EU, with a per capita consumption of 241.7 kg. 

It has been proven that not only a lot of water is used, but also CO2 is emitted, trees are felled and processed, all of which means multiple damage to the environment. In addition, printers, printer cartridges, copiers and the raw materials they require should also be considered, which are used in a paper-based office. When converting to a paperless office, not only are all these processes eliminated, but also their costs, which can be considerable. This way, resources are saved completely. Of course, other energies have to be used for this. This leads us to the next topic:

What about electricity consumption and electronic signatures?

Here, the focus is first on the sustainable development of the power supply. Currently, the energy supply, not only in Germany but in the world, is in the midst of a transformation, away from fossil fuels towards renewable energies. According to Tagesschau data, in the first half of 2022 almost 50% of Germany’s energy demand was already covered by renewable energies. So the change is continuing here. Thus, according to this scheme, half of old electronic signatures are already not only sustainable, but also use renewable energies. 

The potential of environmentally friendly use is therefore huge, but also linked to the transformation of the energy sector. So, after this brief consideration, let’s summarise again in conclusion:

So how sustainable are electronic signatures really?

The solutions that electronic signatures offer in the field of sustainability are, as we have seen, manifold: besides the immense savings in water, wood and CO2, they even have the potential to be fed entirely by renewable energies and thus represent absolutely little, if any, burden on the environment, which is indeed the current goal of all efforts.

So the electronic signature is a digital must-have tool for companies that not only care about their eco-balance but also about their environment. It is an important concern and a great incentive for us to help your company become more sustainable, to reduce the burden on the environment and to exploit the potential we already have. 

As a side effect, your media disruptions will be reduced or even prevented and the goal of a paperless office will be safely achieved with our help. Secure in two respects: securing your data from third-party intervention in a trust-based framework and expanding your office’s digital environment and action options.

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