Photo via MakeLessNoise
While gadgets that claim to be greener seem to be flying at us from left and right, how can we be sure exactly where companies stand in their overall switch to better practices?
The Consumer Electronics Association has put out a new report to help us out on that front. The Environmental Sustainability and Innovation in the Consumer Electronics Industry Report analyzed the 20 companies with the largest market shares that track and report environmental data. (The included companies make about half of the consumer electronics sold in the global market place.)
The industry as a whole, however, looks to be improving, mainly by shrinking energy consumption, shrinking product size and therefore the amount of materials used, and shrinking their overall carbon footprint. Read on for highlights from the report and where your favorite companies stand on green issues. Looking at the reduction of material use, reduction of harmful chemicals, lowering energy consumption for manufacturing and the product itself, better cradle-to-cradle design and many other green elements, the report found that the CE industry is doing a whole lot to better itself.
A Few Key Findings:
At least half the companies we interviewed were diverting 80% or more of their unusable materials from landfills and some diverted as much as 98%. They found more creative uses such as recycling the materials or selling them to partners who used them as feedstock in their own businesses.
Looking at the emissions of 10 major companies that have tracked this data during the past three years, we found that seven of the 10 lowered their emissions per million dollars, and four companies actually lowered their absolute greenhouse gas emissions—meaning that they emitted less carbon even while the company grew.
From 2003 to 2007, one company reduced its electricity use per employee by an impressive 58% (despite increasing the number of employees by 60%). Another decreased its electricity use per million dollars of revenue by 46% while increasing revenue by 43%.
• Lenovo's energy efficient EPEAT Gold monitors contain 25 percent recycled materials, and the company recovers gold, silver and other precious metals from products at the end of their lives.
• Nokia has reduce the amount of no-load energy (the electricity cell phone chargers consume when they are left plugged in after a phone is charged) sucked up by its phone chargers by 90 percent over the last nine years, and its phones now alert users to unplug chargers.
• Panasonic's current plasma TVs consume 96 percent less energy than its plasmas from 2000.
• Kodak has recycled 1.2 billion single-use cameras since 1990, recycling 120 million last year. Almost all of the company's new single-use cameras contain recycled parts.
• Intel runs a capital funding program solely for conservation and efficiency efforts, approving more than 200 projects since 2001 that have saved more than 400 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
While there is always just as much room for improvement in the operations and manufacturing of consumer electronics as there is in the electronics themselves, it is very encouraging to see companies taking strides to be more environmentally friendly. But, of course, there is no resting on any laurels here – let’s continue to require electronics companies to keep working away at better policies.
The report is reader-friendly and very much worth a gander. Download a copy.
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