Thibaut Meurgue
Entrepreneur & It Sustainability Consultant, Co-founder – The Transmutation Principle, Climate Fresk Singapore Coordinator
Thibaut’s introduction

I am Thibaut, French bald since 26 & bold since forever! Right now, I am a 1st time entrepreneur in the making. 

I come from an IT & software agency background so deeply into B2B and old-fashioned processes. I came to realize that sustainability cannot be only about consumers and half-measures. I also realized IT Sustainability was much underrated and not understood by most companies. It came quite as a surprise for me since I always considered IT Sustainability as one of the best ways to merge both ROI & Sustainability to make the latter sound acceptable, actionable, and realistic. Having seen that, I wanted to make a change in my own way. 

My dedication came from the desire to be able to look my future kids in the eye and tell them that I tried to make the world a better place. 

I am also drawn to uncommon & less popular causes, which is why e-waste caught my attention. While it’s not as “buzzy” as plastic waste or consumer recycling, it has the potential to have a greater impact, especially in Asia.

You have moved from an IT Design Agency to sustainable IT and entrepreneurship, what has triggered this move?

Actually, Covid did trigger the move. I resigned from my job in Hong Kong two days before the pandemic hit for real (we just started to hear about this weird flu in Wuhan…).

As I was planning to move from Hong Kong to Singapore, you can imagine it did not happen the way it was supposed to. So, I spent a couple of months questioning what I wanted to do and I decided to try my luck in entrepreneurship because deep inside I always knew I wanted to craft something of my own. I got the opportunity to join Antler, a VC in Singapore acting as an incubator too and met my co-founder there. So that’s how it started, a deep work of introspection and a strike of luck!

You are TMI expert for all digital footprint solutions on the platform. What would be your 3 in-takes and priorities for companies on this subject?

Companies have a HUGE part to play when it comes to digital footprint. They need to understand this before it is too late. I would recommend to:

  • Start with actionable & measurable actions to see early-stage progress and gradually increase the impact! e.g.: changing the font to save ink, better coordination of IT projects to prevent duplicate softwares ...
  • Tech is not always the solution to reduce your impact on the planet
  • Train your Talent, technical or not, because digital footprint is a mindset, not a vitamin to take once and for all!

We listed a lot of solutions to decrease your digital footprint on The Matcha Initiative and took the time to map them, so feel free to pick the ones more relevant for you.

You are also a facilitator of the Digital Collage workshop. Could you tell us more about this workshop and why we should consider doing it in our companies?

Digital Collage is a serious game workshop to understand the impact of IT & tech on the planet, created by Aurélien Déragne & Yvain Mouneu. It highlights the consequences of our daily online habits and gives answers to questions like “what’s the impact on the planet when I buy a new laptop or binge watch Netflix for a week-end?”

In my opinion it’s extremely corporate-friendly because it offers an assessment of the situation AND actionable solutions you can drive in your company 24h after the workshop. 

Companies need to understand Climate Change, but they mostly need support and realistic solutions to change their mindset. This is key.

Note that you do not have to be an expert as the workshop is super accessible!

If you are interested in knowing more, happy to have a talk!

You have co-founded Found & Seek, can you tell us more about this project?

Found & Seek is a Singapore B2B SaaS enabling companies to drive the circular economy to better manage their business equipment (IT hardware, machinery…). We are exactly where SAP meets Airbnb, because companies can actually share their equipment within their network and book them in advance for their operations. Right now, I am working on a report feature to help companies understand the impact of their equipment on the planet (CO2 emissions, Resources consumption...)

On top of this SaaS, we offer e-waste & repurpose (donation, refurbishment) partnerships to our customers!

What are the specificities of e-waste in Singapore and the region?

E-waste is probably the most underrated problem when thinking Climate Change in South-East Asia. Do you see it often in the news? I don’t! And I keep my eyes peeled, believe me! 

That’s a shame because we recorded 54+ million tons of e-waste in the world in 2019. This represents 170 full cargo ships! APAC represents 50% of this amount and has the fastest growth (a third for SEA). 

Regarding Singapore, it represents 60,000 tons a year (companies + homes) for a low 6% that is being recycled today. Recycling batteries in Singapore just started in July 2021...

Overall, e-waste creates a lot of problems: social problems, environmental impact, the lack of proper technologies to recycle alloys & miniaturized components, dangerous “working” conditions ... 

What would be your 3 pieces of advice to tackle e-waste in a company?

I would have 1 critical piece of advice and 2 others of lesser (still high) importance. 

  • The most important thing is to “Know what you have”. If you do not have an exhaustive view of your assets, it’s impossible to get rid of them sustainably. For a simple reason, you do not recycle a laptop the same way you recycle a drilling machine.
  • Once this is done, you can start thinking about what to do. But please, do not trash things altogether because your impact will probably be negative.
  • Read about Singapore regulation (or reach out to me) about e-waste. It’s getting harsh next year!
IT Sustainability does not revolve around e-waste only. What are the other aspects of this sustainability field?

There are a lot actually. E-waste is “only” the end-of-life management of our devices. But tech relies on much more than just devices. 

IT sustainability is also driven by the way you manufacture the so-called equipment/devices (that’s where design, obsolescence and supply chain are key), the way you use them and all the technical infrastructure behind (cloud, networks, wifi…). 

It also relies a lot on refurbishment, how we design softwares, and the role of the new wave of tech (5G, IOT, AI...).

There are a lot of actionable steps to take towards a more sustainable IT. Many are already listed on The Matcha Initiative and more to come... 

What are you most proud of?

Oh, this is a very tough question. I don’t take much pride in “success” or “fame” because I am not sure it will matter much in 50 years, and I do not care much! 

Changing the life of people for the best is what makes me proud.

Being able to have an impact in the long shot is what matters to me, especially with the students and the younger generations. The burden should not be on them - yet - we still have to show exemplarity. Seeing the spark in their eyes when you manage to make them change their mindset is priceless and will make me proud until my last day!

Speaking of this, I hope to share some great news about programs in universities soon!

What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to The Matcha Initiative (TMI) users?
  • When it comes to sustainability, start with baby steps. Don’t aim at being carbon neutral by 5 years, but take it step by step. As we say in French, “Rome was not built in a day”. Sustainability neither! 
  • When you start your journey towards sustainability, build a nucleus of people: To get impact, fresh ideas... and support you when you feel down!
  • Imperfect sustainability is better than nothing, so go ahead!
How could you help The Matcha Initiative (TMI) users?

Help to realize that the impact of tech on the planet is complex but critical to understand.

And once you understand this, I would gladly help you to become a changemaker in this area. I would be also delighted to support people willing to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship because our planet needs - and always will - bold people driven by impact. 

Thibaut kindly accepts to answer your questions.​

If you need additional insights, you can send him a message.