Written on 22 April, 2023

As the world becomes more interconnected, translation agencies play a crucial role in bridging language barriers and facilitating communication across different cultures and regions. However, in today’s era of increasing environmental and social awareness, translation agencies also need to consider their impact on sustainability.

Sustainability in a commercial context refers to the practice of conducting business in a way that minimises negative environmental, social and economic impacts, while maximising positive contributions to the well-being of people and the planet.

Surrey Translation Bureau (STB) is committed to complying with all relevant local, national and international environmental policy, regulations and legislation, keeping abreast of industry‐specific best practice and working towards more sustainable business operations.

This Earth Day, we explore how translation agencies can incorporate sustainable practices into their operations to make a positive difference and the steps taken by STB in this direction.


Digitalisation and paperless operations

One of the key ways that translation agencies can contribute to sustainability is through digitalisation and paperless operations.

To promote sustainability, translation agencies can implement digitalisation strategies, such as using translation management systems (TMS) and cloud-based platforms for file storage and collaboration. Using a TMS can streamline the translation process, reduce administrative tasks and eliminate the need for printing and shipping documents, while cloud-based platforms enable online collaboration, allowing staff and translators to work remotely and thereby reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, agencies can encourage clients to receive and deliver translations electronically, avoiding the use of paper and shipping materials.

At STB, electronic communication remains the primary method of communication and we use an opt‐in scheme for paper‐based communication. As a translation company we are fortunate to be able to manage a global client base with digital operations, using various software such as Trados (TMS), Plunet (translation industry specific CRM system), Microsoft Azure (cloud computing) and different virtual meeting platforms.

Ethical sourcing and supplier selection

Translation companies can also promote sustainability by considering ethical sourcing and supplier selection. Ethical sourcing involves procuring goods and services from suppliers that adhere to environmentally and socially responsible practices.

STB is gradually moving towards reducing the production of non‐recyclable resources, such as laminated or plastic based marketing materials. In recent years we have focused on eco-friendly merchandise and gifts for clients and suppliers, while we also use refill and recycling schemes for office consumables wherever possible, such as water and coffee.

Furthermore, we are working towards a sustainable IT infrastructure, to be achieved by using certified sustainable PCs, laptops, monitors, mobile devices, networks and server hardware.

Sustainable office practices

Adopting sustainable office practices also allows translation companies to minimise their environmental impact. For STB, this includes simple measures such as reducing energy consumption by switching off lights and electronics when not in use, using energy-efficient appliances and bulbs, and optimising office heating and cooling systems. We also promote waste reduction and recycling by implementing a comprehensive waste management system that includes recycling bins for paper, plastic and other recyclable materials, as well as proper equipment disposal through an approved e‐waste recycling contractor.

In line with its sustainability policy, the staff at STB are encouraged to use efficient modes of transportation. We also support modern working practices including remote work and virtual meetings to reduce our carbon footprint.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives

Engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives is another way of contributing to sustainability. CSR refers to the voluntary actions that businesses take to address social, environmental and economic issues and make a positive impact on society. Translation agencies can align their CSR initiatives with sustainability goals and engage in activities that benefit their local communities, the environment and society at large.

STB has recently unveiled its CSR framework that puts the focus on community engagement and involving all staff in our environmental sustainability efforts. We aim to raise awareness of environmental sustainability across our operations and encourage the adoption of similar environmental practices among our freelance suppliers.

Continuous improvement and measurement

Finally, sustainability requires a commitment to continuous improvement and measurement of sustainability efforts. STB has established certain sustainability goals, developed a sustainability policy and we regularly review and update our processes to align with best practices and evolving sustainability standards. This helps us identify areas for improvement, celebrate successes and demonstrate our commitment to sustainability to clients, employees and suppliers.

As the global demand for translation services continues to grow, it is crucial for translation agencies to take responsibility and integrate sustainability into their operations to create a more sustainable and inclusive world.

If you would like to work with a translation agency committed to sustainability and environmental best practices, please get in touch with us.