The consumer technology industry is advancing and succeeding across numerous sustainability initiatives including responsible product recycling and more energy efficient devices, according to a new report from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
“As the consumer technology industry strives to meet consumers’ demands for the latest and greatest tech devices – moving toward lighter, thinner, less material-intensive products – we have an obligation to lead in the field of low carbon innovation,” says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Technology Association. “This report is a far-reaching look at our industry’s sustainability performance and potential, including new ways to lower our environmental impact with the emergence of the sharing economy and the Internet of Things.”
The new report, an update to CTA’s 2013 edition, explains the consumer technology industry’s leadership in promoting and implementing sustainable practices and initiatives. The report compiles stories and insights from companies including Apple, Best Buy, Google, LG, Lyft, Samsung and Uber that illustrate accomplishments in various environmental challenges, such as lowering energy consumption, advancing eco-friendly design and implementing practices that lower the industry’s total carbon emissions.
Highlights from the report include:
* New E-waste Milestone: A 2015 report released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows consumer electronics (CE) are now the fastest declining portion of the municipal waste stream, with a nearly four percent decline in waste generation over the previous year. The report also shows the industry is making remarkable progress recycling CE products (a 27 percent annual increase) and reducing the amount of CE going to landfills (a 17 percent decline).
* Ecycling: Under the eCycling Leadership Initiative (ELI), 660-million pounds of old consumer electronics were recycled in 2014 and the number of responsible recycling locations increased to 8,500. CTA members Best Buy, LG and Samsung are among the companies EPA features in the report for their exceptional recycling leadership.
* Energy Efficiency Milestones: The industry has made significant progress toward greater energy efficiency, with CE devices accounting for just 12 percent of total U.S. home electricity consumption in 2013 – a nine percent decrease since 2010. The emerging Internet of Things is at the forefront of smart energy use and management, and companies are shifting to renewable energy sources and partnering to create best practices for their use of areas such as data servers and centers.
* Voluntary Agreements on Energy Efficiency: The Small Network Equipment (SNE) Voluntary Agreement, launched in 2015, will improve the energy efficiency of home SNE by 10 to 20 percent and cover more than 90 percent of U.S. households. Also, updated findings from the 2012 Set-Top Box Voluntary Agreement reveal U.S. consumers saved more than $500 million in energy bills during 2013 and 2014 as a result of the agreement.
* Lowering Environmental Impact at CES: CES serves as the stage for global innovation and also a case study on how to bring more than 150,000 people together while lowering their environmental impact. More than one million square feet of carpet was reused from CES 2015, and over 20,000 square feet of magnetic banners were recycled to produce new magnetic materials. Also, CES attendees collectively avoided more than 3.5 million miles in separate business trips that they otherwise would have to take if not for the show.
* Telecommuting & E-commerce: The rise of telecommuting and electronically delivered content has drastically increased energy efficiency benefits to millions of people. A CTA-commissioned study found that a single year of telecommuting reduced U.S. fuel consumption by 680 million gallons, and e-commerce reduced greenhouse gas emissions by up to 5.4 million metric tons.
* The Sharing Economy: New this year, the report identifies often-overlooked sustainability benefits the emerging sharing economy, such as the efficient use of products and materials that would otherwise be dormant. Innovative practices from companies including Uber, Lyft and car2go demonstrate how these new services save fuel and avoid emissions by facilitating consumer access to carpool options. The report also explains how the sharing economy enables access to underutilized resources owned by others (e.g., an unused guest room, a parked car), thus reducing waste and encouraging more sustainable consumer behavior.