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Consumer Electronics Companies Green Up Industry

CEASony’s development of SoRPlas — its proprietary recycled plastic — is just one example of how consumer electronics companies are becoming more environmentally friendly, according to the Consumer Electronics Association‘s latest sustainability report.

Plastic scrap from leftover optical discs, transparent sheets and used water bottles is crushed, washed and converted to SoRPlas, according to CEA 2013 Sustainability Report. Traditional recycled plastics contain about 30 percent recycled material. Setting the bar higher, in SoRPlas the recycled content can be as high as 99 percent — and the 1 percent remainder includes Sony’s original flame retardant that provides superior flame resistance while eliminating the need for brominated flame retardants. This breakthrough material can be found today in Sony’s digital still cameras and other Sony products, the report says.

The report tracks the industry’s green efforts and includes more than two dozen case studies from various electronics companies such as Best Buy, Sharp and FulTech Solutions illustrating challenges and accomplishments in their environmental efforts. The report also documents and illustrates green practices across the industry.

By sourcing packaging materials from unexpected sources like bamboo, mushrooms and wheat straw, Dell has become a leading innovator in sustainable packaging design, the report says. In its own 2013 corporate sustainability report, Dell announced that it achieved one of its key sustainability goals: to make more than 75 percent of its desktop and notebook packaging material either compostable or recyclable.

Dell launched its renewable packaging initiative with bamboo. Sourced in China near its manufacturing facilities, bamboo is used to create cushions and trays for laptop and tablet products. A type of woody grass, bamboo is renewable — and can regrow at a rate of more than 1 inch per hour. The material is also recyclable and can be treated like cardboard at the recovery stage.

Dell expects the use of fast-growing, renewable organic material to help it meet its goal of a waste-free packaging stream by 2020.

Apple, Dell, HP and some 2,000 other consumer electronics companies increased the amount of electronics they recycled by about 27 percent last year, according to CEA figures released in April.

The Second Annual Report of the eCycling Leadership Initiative said that consumer electronics companies working in the eCycling Leadership Initiative recycled 585 million pounds of electronics in 2012, up from 460 million pounds in 2011. This represents a total increase of 95 percent since 2010. The report singles out Apple, Best Buy Dell, HP and Samsung as the top recyclers in 2012.

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