We may be a few weeks short of Earth Day on April 22, but we at TWICE thought it was about time that we do a full-fledged special report about the environment and consumer electronics.
Our report, “Going Green,” attempts to highlight the many recycling efforts from both retailers and manufacturers, the new digital TVs that are being introduced this year that will produce better pictures using less power, and products across most — if not all — CE categories that have the environment in mind.
This is the first in a series of ongoing news stories, features and webinars that TWICE will cover on this vital topic. Online, you can check our Going Green section for our latest updates from now on.
The industry, and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), has been in the forefront of lobbying Congress to come up with a national recycling program for CE products. That is preferred by the industry compared with the specter of state-by-state or even city-by-city regulations.
And CEA has been in the forefront of the Energy Star program for the past 15 years that sets specifications for energy use.
Of course, environmental groups continue to say the industry needs to do more on environmental issues, to cut electronic waste going to landfills and improve energy efficiency.
Complaining about this industry’s reaction, or any industry’s reaction to this problem, is the business of these environmental lobbyists. And in many ways they are right — the CE industry, consumers and government need to do more.
But give credit where it is due. For instance, many top TV companies knew that when the DTV transition hit this year that there would be more tube TVs being sent to landfills than ever before, and they didn’t just start developing plans to address the problem on Dec. 31, 2008.
More cooperation and coordination needs to occur between the CE industry and government to make it easier and simple for consumers to recycle old technology products. And those products must be handled properly and not just shipped somewhere overseas where towns and cities are polluted due to unsafe and illegal recycling.
Also, the nature of how CE products are designed and marketed will change. That was evident when I attended the Greener Gadgets Conference that was sponsored in part by CEA in late February.
Longer lifecycles for certain products were suggested and discussed. New hardware should get more software upgrades to elongate use. Types of carbon-focused taxes were discussed for certain technology products and products of all types, based on the energy used manufacturing and selling the items at retail.
For this industry, and any industry that markets and sells consumer products, the days of just being concerned about sell-in and sell-though are soon becoming a memory.
The energy used in designing, manufacturing and distributing these products, how much energy they consume during their lives and how they will be recycled are now part a vital part of the sales and marketing equation for CE products.
And, of course, the environment should not just be the concern of industry and government, but all of us who are citizens of this planet.