Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the U. S. trade association representing the consumer electronics industry and owning and producing the world’s largest consumer technology event, the International Consumer Electronics Show.
Greenbang grills him on the industry’s green credentials…
GB: Can the technology industry ever reach zero carbon status without offsetting?
Gary: Yes. We are getting greener every day at every phase of the product lifecycle and improving how we do business. We are part of an energy saving solution just by doing what we do best—innovating and making possible the energy efficiencies of the global economy and improving everyday life with home automation, home entertainment, telecommuting, e-commerce, e-medicine, distance learning and more.
For example, telecommuting and the use of video-on-demand alone save more than 1 billion gallons of fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than thirteen million tons annually. Additionally, many companies recycle hundreds of tons of products each year, strive to significantly reduce product packaging and even go the extra mile to ‘green’ their facilities or become carbon neutral. So while it’s possible that the industry may further embrace offsetting as the carbon trading market stabilizes, we can contribute the most by doing what we do best—innovating
GB: Many technology companies believe that relying on the WEEE directive is enough to safeguard themselves from environmental criticism – is this true in your belief?
Gary: The consumer electronics industry takes a comprehensive approach to its environmental stewardship. So while manufacturers pride themselves on being RoHS and WEEE compliant, they are doing much more. If you look closely, you will see that many manufacturers have gone above and beyond RoHS and WEEE in their product design and end-of-life programs and goals.
GB: How many consumer and business tech companies are concerned about how they resource product materials?
Gary: Companies are run by people with families. They care about the environment and their children’s future. They like to think of themselves as good corporate citizens and every sentient CEO is aware of the focus on green. Everyone is going green, some faster than others.
GB: Do you think most think of environmental action as recycling and carbon emissions – something of an after effect?
Gary: The industry’s environmental action is comprehensive, proactive and present at every phase the product lifecycle.
GB: What is your organisation trying to promote from this?
Gary: Beyond some of the great strides I’ve mentioned, the industry also believes strongly in educating the millions of consumers who buy and use consumer technology. To help support this effort and empower consumers to do their part, the Consumer Electronics Association launched and aggressively promotes myGreenElectronics.org, which provides consumers in the U.S. with information on how and where to recycle, as well as how to be environmentally responsible at all phases of their products’ lifecycle.
And, we’re working to take this initiative global with our sister associations. Additionally, to promote energy efficiency, we work closely with the federal Energy Star program to provide consumers with thousands of options for energy efficient products.