Consumer electronics aren’t exactly easy on the environment — they consume electricity that contributes to global warming, and toxins leach out of them when they end up in landfills.
But the industry that’s inviting us to get a new cell phone every year and toss out that old TV in favor of a flat panel is also trying to show that it cares.
At the world’s largest trade show for consumer electronics, starting Monday in Las Vegas, manufacturers will be talking not just about megapixels, megahertz and megabytes, but about smart power adapters that don’t waste as much electricity, batteries that are easier to recycle, and components made from plants.
Many of the products on display will be striking rather small blows for the environment, but the industry is realizing that even in electronics, going “green” can be a powerful marketing tool.
“Everything I’ve heard from folks out there is that there is going to be a lot of emphasis on green this year,” said Scot Case, a vice president at consultancy TerraChoice Environmental Marketing Inc.
One of the 2,700 exhibitors at the International Consumer Electronics Show will be Japan’s Fujitsu Ltd., which will show off a laptop with a plastic case made from corn rather than petroleum products. The company has sold such a model in Japan since 2006, but is now considering taking it to the North American market.
Environmental awareness among consumers and corporations has now reached the point where manufacturers really are taking notice, said Richard McCormack, senior vice president of marketing at Fujitsu’s U.S. arm.
“They’re driving manufacturers like us with their pocket book,” McCormack said.
Z-Power has developed a battery technology it will show off that it hopes will replace the lithium-ion batteries that power laptops and cell phones. Its silver-zinc batteries will show up in laptops from a “major” manufacturer, according to the Camarillo, Calif., company.