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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 now become more of a marketing shell without any real meaning.

Whether it's products, food, the energy transition or travel, everything should be sustainable in some way. In this article, we therefore want to address the fundamental meaning of this term in the context of electronic signatures and clarify a number of issues. 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 concept of sustainability is actually not a new term, 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" from 1713. The creation of a stable equilibrium was the goal to be achieved.

His basic idea was: In a forest, only as many trees should be cut down as can grow back in this forest in the foreseeable future.

This is consistent with the current general definition as found in the Duden: "Principle according to which no more may be consumed than can be regrown, regenerated, provided again in the future at any one time."

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

The saving of water and paper

We move within the digital framework, i.e. our technology is a prerequisite for the goal of the paperless office. Accordingly, we are talking about digital contracts or, more generally, documents of any kind that no longer need to be printed out. For example, a Green Party inquiry to the German government in 2019 revealed that Germany ranks 4th in the EU in terms of paper consumption, with a per capita consumption of 241.7 kg. Demonstrably, not only is a lot of water consumed, but CO2 is also emitted, as well as trees felled and processed, all of which means multiple damage to the environment overall. In addition, printers, printer cartridges, copiers and their required raw materials would have to 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 significant. This way, resources are saved completely. Of course, other energies must be used to achieve this. This leads us to the next topic:

What about power 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 middle of a transformation, away from fossil fuels to renewable energies. According to Tagesschau data, in the first half of 2022, almost 50% of the energy demand in Germany was already covered by renewable energies. So the change continues to progress here. Thus, according to this scheme, half of old electronic signatures are already not only sustainable, but also use renewable energy. The potential of the pollution free application is thus enormous, but also coupled to the transformation of the energy sector. So, after this brief consideration, let's summarize again in conclusion:

So how sustainable are electronic signatures really?

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

So the electronic signature is a must-have digital tool for companies that care not only about their eco-balance, but also about their environment. It is an important concern and a great incentive for us to help your company to become more sustainable, to reduce the burden on the environment and to exploit the potentials we already have. As a side effect, their 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 ways: securing your data from third-party interference in a trust-based framework and expanding your office's digital environment and action capabilities.

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