CEA Sustainability Report Shows Electronics Firms' Progress on Green Goals

ARLINGTON, VA — The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off on Thursday, drawing tens of thousands of people from around the world to Las Vegas to explore the latest in technology.

In the run-up to a moment when all eyes are on the electronics industry, the Consumer Electronics Association, the trade group that puts on CES, released yesterday its second sustainability report, highlighting the progress that IT firms have made in reducing the environmental impacts across the lifecycles of our ubiquitous gadgets.

The report follows two years after the industry's first sustainability report, and offers a number of case studies from manufacturers and retailers alike that focus on energy use, packaging, e-waste and many of the other challenges that the industry faces.

Two years is a lifetime when it comes to consumer electronics, and Walter Alcorn, CEA's Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Industry Sustainability, said that there has been rapid progress on several areas of sustainability.

"On some of the green design issues, for example we've seen EPEAT now fully implemented, and that's a big step especially for B2B purchases of electronic products," Alcorn said. "Also, a lot has happened on the eCycling side: We now have more than 5,000 collection locations that are sponsored by companies in the CE industry where consumers can drop of old consumer electronics."

Although some of the findings in the new report that were groundbreaking in 2008 had become commonplace by 2010 -- Alcorn said EPEAT was a good example of that, with over 48 million EPEAT-certified products sold in the U.S. in 2009 -- e-waste is one area where companies are still breaking new ground.

The electronics industry as a whole recycled 200 million pounds of e-waste in 2009, and the CEA in its sustainability report urges electronics firms to use recyclers certified under one of the two competing e-waste recycling initiatives, R2 or e-Stewards.