i3 | April 22, 2017

Sustainability at CES 2017

Elliot Grimm

For 50 years, CES® has been the world stage for innovators and breakthrough technologies. During that time, the show has also become fertile ground for sustainable technologies, products and conversations, seen most clearly with this year’s “Sustainability Day.” At CES 2017, CTA partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and key technology industry members for a day of environmental-focused events.

EPA kicked off the event by announcing the winners of the Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge. EPA awarded Best Buy, Dell, LG, Samsung, Sprint and Staples with the Gold Tier Award for providing information on their take-back efforts in states without electronics recycling laws. The Bronze Tier Award winners were Sony and Vizio for having a takeback program for used electronics and responsible end-of-life management, while also striving to use certified recyclers and increase the total weight of items collected annually. Dell, Staples and Samsung won additional Champion Awards for their exemplary efforts to increase electronics recycling.

The award ceremony underscored the industry’s ongoing efforts to reduce e-waste. According to new data from EPA, consumer electronics have the fastest growing recycling rate of any product category in the U.S.

Following the ceremony, RIT, along with CTA, Cisco and Staples, presented the results of a new report examining material trends in consumer technology. The study, Phase I: Resource and Waste Implications of the Evolving Consumer Electronics Product Community, found that although the number of tech products sold has increased, the net material consumption has declined to levels not seen since the early 1990s. Three important trends drive this milestone in material reductions: technological shifts, the convergence of multi-functional devices and increased use of lightweight materials.

Green Footprint

As part of the Innovation Policy Summit at CES 2017, industry and government leaders participated in a panel discussion on sustainability challenges and opportunities in the new Congress and under the Trump administration. The panelists included representatives from CTA, EPA, RIT and Samsung. They all asserted the need for industry and government to work together to most effectively reduce humanity’s environmental footprint and reach sustainability goals. 

Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of Land and Emergency Management at EPA, highlighted the need for government and industry to collaborate saying, “The producer responsibility policy has been a failed policy.” Stanislaus pointed to how the government’s attempts to mandate electronics recycling and other goals have fallen short, but expressed optimism for both sides to work together in future efforts. 

Even beyond the exciting green tech and panel discussions, CES works to lessen its environmental footprint. CES 2016 reused more than one million square feet of carpet, recycled more than 33,000 square feet of magnetic banners, and gave to recyclers (melters) more than 4.8 tons of steel and 3,000 pounds of aluminum. Also, more than 5,660 square feet of vinyl banner materials were repurposed into tarps, hockey rink liners and outdoor movie screens. Once data is compiled, CTA expects similar achievements from its postshow work at CES 2017.

Learn more about the sustainability efforts and technology at CES 2017 by visiting CTA.tech/Green.

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