Michael Kasten, Director of IT Operations at the Spread Group, rarely loses his cool in day-to-day business. For more than 13 years, he has ensured that the Spread Group’s operating systems work reliably at all locations. With his international team – 40 employees from 10 countries – he makes a significant contribution to the customer satisfaction of the company brands. And when asked about sustainability, Michael Kasten gets enthusiastic about many green ideas for his department, which he resolutely tackles.
Spread Group: How do you define sustainability?
Michael Kasten: For me, sustainability means that we should not take more resources from nature than it can regenerate. In principle, we should also critically question all resources that cannot be completely degraded. It should be our goal to strive for a circular economy to produce high-quality products that are used for a long time and completely recycled. Unfortunately, a closed cycle is still utopian in the IT industry: the components of a circuit board consist of lead, gold and silicon, among other things, which can only be separated chemically with great effort.
Spread Group: What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Michael Kasten: I am annoyed by the unnecessary electronic waste that is generated by our overconsumption. Buying a new mobile phone every two years is sheer madness. But I also see the big telecommunication providers responsibility here. Through their new contracts with free mobile phones, they promote our throwaway mentality. I would like to see a compulsory label for electronic devices that I can read at a glance. How many resources were used for it? And how repair-friendly is the device? As a consumer, we are still completely in the dark.
Spread Group: What sustainability projects have you and your team already implemented?
Michael Kasten: Together, we have drawn up a mission statement which states that we always want to focus our work on sustainability. As a result, we have already converted two of our three data centers completely to green electricity, thereby saving 70 tons of CO2 per year. We are currently planning the relocation of the last data center, for which we will invest a mid-six-figure sum. Of course, this center will only be powered by electricity from 100 per cent renewable energy sources. The modern servers in our data centers also require less cooling than in the past and thus save a lot of energy. Today, our servers already run at an optimal temperature at 25° Celsius.
Within the group, most colleagues work with laptops, which is much more favorable from an ecological point of view than desktop PCs. Laptops are technically designed to save electricity. Unfortunately, however, they are difficult to maintain. Our mission with all computers and servers is to use them for a long time in terms of sustainability. On average, we work with them for five years, which is good value. This is sometimes quite a balancing act, because it is also clear that there is something to be said for working on a fast new device.
Spread Group: What specific sustainability goals have you set for yourselves?
Michael Kasten: Quite a lot! In addition to our project to use 100 per cent green electricity in all data centers, we want to further improve our digital workflows and pay even more attention to whether and when we use paper. The paperless office is not a utopia, but often only fails because of our bad habits.
Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to further explore the topic of “sustainability”?
Michael Kasten: Look at yourself and see what you can change. Many people e.g. underestimate how power-hungry screen savers can be. If you don’t really need them, you should deactivate them directly. At Spread Group, we are currently working on a small project that will allow us to centrally control all screen savers for work breaks. That’s even more convenient.
Spread Group: Thank you very much for the interview, Michael.