Earth Day was first proposed as an idea by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, one of the leaders of the modern environmental movement, at a Seattle conference in 1969 as he called on the nation to join in. The following year, the first Earth Day took place, serving as an educational platform for environmental issues. Later that year, the Clean Air Act was passed, and the Environmental Protection Agency was established to protect human health and the natural environment, encompassing air, water, and land. Other environmental laws soon followed, including the Water Quality Improvement Act (1972), Endangered Species Act (1973), Toxic Substances Control Act (1976), and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (1977).
Today, Earth Day has become the world’s largest secular event, with over a billion people participating annually. It serves as a call to action to transform human behavior and shape global, national, and local policies. This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet,” emphasizing the importance of investing in the environment and ensuring a better, safer future for generations to come. It urges businesses, governments, and citizens worldwide to recognize this need and take action.
In celebration of this year’s Earth Day, we spoke to three Fortinet experts about Fortinet’s efforts to respect the environment and ensure the future of our planet.
Respecting the Environment is an Ongoing Journey
Below is a recap of our conversation with three Fortinet experts about our journey to reduce our climate change impact.
Meera Ramanathan, Director, Environmental Sustainability
Fortinet is committed to minimizing its impact on climate change, and we have begun by focusing on our operations. In 2021, we publicly committed to becoming carbon neutral across our Scope 1 (carbon emissions from natural gas and refrigerant usage) and Scope 2 (carbon emissions from electricity usage) emissions from our owned facilities worldwide by 2030. This goal is in alignment with the Science-Based Target initiative (SBTi). We focus on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through renewable energy, energy and carbon efficiency methodologies, and emission offset programs across our owned operations globally. And we have expanded that focus to include both water and waste.
In our Sunnyvale, California headquarters, we achieved our ambitious goal of developing a Net Zero facility. This state-of-the-art facility uses multiple energy efficiency measures, including passive climate control, solar panels on our building, parking structures, sidewalks, and radiant cooling, which uses 30% less energy than a standard building while conserving 76,800 gallons of water annually. And now, we are leveraging the lessons learned from this net zero facility to expand this initiative to other buildings we own across the globe.
To further advance on our path to carbon neutrality, in alignment with the Paris Agreement, Fortinet committed in September 2022 to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in our value chain by no later than 2050, and we are developing a comprehensive decarbonization plan that will be submitted to SBTi for validation by 2024.
Environmental sustainability has also become increasingly important to our employees. In November 2022, Fortinet mobilized nearly 800 employees worldwide for the first time for the Fortinet Act4Environment Challenge, a month-long internal awareness campaign. During this campaign, we engaged with our employees to broaden their knowledge of environmental issues and understand how to reduce their personal carbon footprint through physical and eco-friendly activities. We estimate their collective impact during this one-month challenge added up to 2.24 tons of CO2 saved.
In addition, at the beginning of 2023, we invited Fortinet employees to attend in-person workshops to help them better understand climate change, including its causes and consequences. We also discussed ways how, individually and collectively, we can reduce our impact on the environment. As a result, Fortinet’s participants formulated more than 150 suggestions that are being reviewed and considered to improve our environmental management. It has been exciting to see employee awareness translate directly into concrete operational initiatives worldwide, such as in UAE where the team in Dubai decided to eliminate all plastic single-use items.
Carrie Chen, Senior Manager, Product Sustainability
The energy consumed by our products is the most significant contributor to our carbon footprint. And electricity is not just an operating expense for our customers as it also impacts their progress toward their own net-zero objectives. Minimizing the environmental footprint of our products has always been integral to Fortinet’s DNA. Since our founding, it has been a driver in our efforts to consolidate numerous security and networking functions into a single platform.
With more than 635,000 customers worldwide and over 10 million units shipped to date, we believe it’s our duty to our customers and the environment to make our products energy efficient. And today, we not only lead the industry in power efficiency, but our engineering team is working hard to ensure each new generation of products uses less power, space, and cooling. For example, the new FortiGate 1000F launched in 2022 consumes 80% less energy than similar industry solutions. It also requires less cooling, generating only 15% of the BTU/h per Gbps of firewall throughput compared to competitive firewalls. Additionally, when it comes to space occupation, deploying a single appliance rather than several allows us to reduce the space required to host a product at a customer site while positively impacting transportation overhead by reducing shipping weight and volume. For example, we have reduced the size of our FortiGate 4200F and FortiGate 4400F appliances by 33% compared to the previous generation. Such sustainable innovations help our customers progress toward their own net-zero objectives by reducing their electricity bills and greenhouse gas emissions.
We have also focused our efforts on a sustainable future through our product packaging, as it immediately becomes waste once a product is received at a customer site. Our engineering team has redesigned our product packaging to replace plastics with biodegradable paper, cardboard, or recycled by-products and removed plastic bags for components like antennas and other accessories. In 2022, more than 500,000 boxes were shipped using 100% eco-friendly packaging. Another priority we are exploring is optimizing product end-of-life by increasing repair, reconditioning, and material recycling.
Andrew Rybacha, Manager, Compliance
Over the past two decades, environmental laws and regulations have been introduced at both the national and regional levels to prevent the leakage of harmful substances into the environment, as well as to protect human health in part by encouraging repair, reuse, and recycling. The requirements outlined in the RoHS directive and REACH regulation were critical advances in protecting people and the environment.
However, a big game changer was the introduction of the SCIP database established under the European Waste Framework Directive (WFD). Since January 5, 2021, manufacturers, importers, and distributors of articles or complex products to the EU market containing Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) at an amount greater than 0.1% by weight in each article must submit this information to the SCIP database. The SCIP database helps ensure that information about articles and products containing SVHC is available to communicate throughout their lifecycle all the way to the waste stage.
Fortinet fully complies with and supports this effort. We have submitted all required information into the SCIP database and are committed to maintaining this data for all our products. We aim to provide full transparency to our customers by providing information on any SVHC substances in our products.
Additionally, we are committed to meeting or exceeding all applicable environmental laws and regulations protecting human health and the environment. We strictly monitor the environmental compliance landscape and quickly update the design specifications of our products to ensure they fully comply with applicable directives, regulations, and standards worldwide.
To assist our contract manufacturers and suppliers in delivering complied parts and products, we have outlined all those requirements in our documentation, The Restricted & Declarable Substances List, the Packaging Requirements, and the Packaging Design Guidelines.
Learn more about Fortinet’s progress made across our ESG priorities in Fortinet’s 2022 Sustainability Report