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Innovating a More Sustainable World

The consumer technology industry is making history in electronics recycling.

Innovation is always at the heart of rapid developments in the consumer tech industry and now it is a driving force for significant increases in product sustainability. Material use, size, efficiency, longevity and recyclability are directly correlated to advancements in product innovation.

CTA’s new industry sustainability report highlights the achievements of the industry and specific manufacturers and companies who are at the forefront of this movement. The CTA 2017 Sustainability Report illustrates the industry’s long-standing commitment to environmentally friendly practices and progress toward a healthier planet.

Microchips inside devices are reducing the amount of energy required to power them.

Elsewhere in the report, several sustainability topics are covered in greater detail. The report details how our devices have become more powerful and prevalent, but also smaller and lighter. While the number of devices in U.S. households has grown during the past 25 years, the total mass of those devices peaked a decade ago and has decreased each year since. This beneficial trend is called “dematerialization.”

And even as today’s tech devices use less materials, they also have eliminated or significantly reduced the presence of substances that can be harmful to health and the environment. Even the components that power our favorite consumer tech are becoming more sustainable.

Under “Energy Saving Chips,” the report examines how the microchips inside our devices have improved at an exponential rate. The improved design of these chips is enabling smaller, thinner devices and reducing the amount of energy required to power them.

Also on the energy front, two industry initiatives have resulted in big savings for consumers and the environment. Since 2012, the set-top box voluntary agreement has saved consumers an estimated $2.1 billion in energy costs and avoided 11.8 million metric tons of CO2. The industry’s similar agreement for home internet equipment has helped more than 98 percent of broadband equipment meet greater energy efficiency standards.

As global population continues to increase, water consumption is rising to unsustainable rates. The report looks at several companies stepping forward to lead water conservation efforts. Dell, for example, has established a goal to reduce its water use in water-stressed regions by 20 percent. And since 1998, Intel has invested more than a quarter billion dollars in water conservation projects, saving more than 57 billion gallons of water.

One of the most important challenges facing the CT industry is finding ways to reduce overall waste. Under “Waste Diversion,” the report looks at companies whose initiatives have helped reduce their waste footprints. In 2015, Toshiba reused 95 percent of the total waste volume generated from operations. And last year, Microsoft became the first tech company to earn the “Zero Waste Facility Gold Certification” from the U.S. Green Building Council through its eco-friendly business practices.

Read the full CTA 2017 Sustainability Report and learn more about the industry's efforts on overall sustainability and efficiency.

Elliot Grimm