CES 2009: Toshiba's Environmental Initiatives


Comparing power draws of current Toshiba TV model with future modelPhoto by Jaymi Heimbuch

Toshiba was kind enough to invite TreeHugger over to their booth to show off what they're doing to prove their commitment to the planet and the people on it. Guided by Craig Hershberg, director of environmental affairs for Toshiba America, I was able to learn about a handful of the the business practices, goals, and products Toshiba has in place. Most of the items on display are already familiar - the SCiB battery technology used in the Schwinn bike, the Protégé R600 that Greenpeace ranked so highly, their tree planting efforts, and their partnership with Panasonic and Sharp to create MRMRecycling. But what wasn't as familiar is the extent to which the company is expanding its global environmental initiative.

Toshiba Pinpoints the Problem
According to Hershberg, Toshiba recognizes that with the world population growing so rapidly, there's a serious issue with being able to provide energy and products to an ever bigger population while still reducing ever further the environmental impact of the energy and products demanded. With that problem as a starting point, Toshiba has designed two approaches to a solution.

The Approaches to Take Towards Progress
First is energy. Toshiba is expanding into developing plants where solar panels can be made, carbon capture and storage technology (because, as Hershberg stated, it's a fact coal plants will continue to be built), and researching, developing, and utilizing alternative and clean energy sources.

Second is eco-friendly products. Hershberg stated that Toshiba doesn't want to just look at one product and think about what they might green up about it. Rather, they want to look at all their products and require that each be improved in all aspects to have a lower environmental footprint.

Toshiba is also concerned with following eco-processes. This mean minimizing the impact of their business operations, including robust take-back programs and recycling, as well as greening up their offices, manufacturing plants, and so on.


Green Talk or Green Walk?
Now, a company can say a whole lot, put out a bunch of reports, and print lots of brochures in green ink. Indeed Toshiba's "Environmental Report 2008" does have a lot of very vague wording about goals and plans along with the more detailed information about the current status of their strategy. And there are definite limitations to programs like their product take-back and recycling.

But Toshiba does really seem to be taking environmental awareness and action to heart, at least in the sense that it is business savvy to go this route. At this point in our human history, it seems like obvious business sense to try and do more with less.

So we're going to watch closely and see if Toshiba continues to act along the guidelines they've set out for themselves. And with luck and effort, what was discussed in my tour today won't be just a bunch of green schmoozing.

More on CES 2009:
CES 2009: Nokia Working to Walk the Green Talk
CES 2009: Schwinn's Tailwind Bike Uses Exclusive Toshiba Battery Tech (Video)
CES 2009: Motorola Launches The First Carbon Neutral Cell Phone
Are Green Gadgets Really Greener This Year At CES?
CES 2009: Christopher Knight Helps Kick off Green Plug's First Product
CES 2009: The Greener Gadgets Wild Goose Chase
CES 2009: Fuji Rolls Out Greenwashed EnviroMAX Batteries

Tags: Corporate Responsibility | Electronics | Environmental Footprint | E-Waste | Gadgets | Recycling

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