Sony on the Importance of Being Green

Sony Vaio EcoPhoto: Sony

Sony Europe’s General Manager, Environmental Communications – Emily Young – talks about the importance Sony place on being green, and their plans for a sustainable future.

How important are green issues to Sony?

We see ‘green issues’ and sustainability as a critical part of our company ethos and activities. The main aim of our sustainability activities is to both minimise our impact on the environment (which includes tough targets to reduce waste and energy), as well as to demonstrate that technology can be an important part of the solution to climate change issues and how we, as a technology company, can help with finding solutions – thus having an overall net positive impact as a company.

Eco-conscious thinking also influences our product cycles – from the materials we source, recycle and reuse in manufacture, to the development of smaller packaging that takes less space for more energy efficient transportation.

We’re committed to finding new ways of reducing the company’s impact on the planet; one of Sony’s long-term goals is to achieve zero carbon by 2050 with clear commitments and published targets for the short-term and mid-term (2015).

Sony offices, warehouses and manufacturing across Europe have already cut CO2 emissions dramatically, but we are aiming to cut emissions by another 10% in 2010 for all of our UK specific sites for example, as we’re signed up to the UK’s 10:10 initiative.

We see the 10:10 campaign as an excellent initiative to engage employees and involve them in the overall environmental objectives of the company. We have established ‘green teams’ across UK businesses who are tasked with leading the way in coordinating activities across different sites. This includes actions such as cutting general power consumption in facilities and offices, as well as reducing employee travel, especially air travel.

The 10:10 campaign is part of a real commitment in our organisation to reduce C02 across our business and is part of an overall global corporate target to cut a further 30% in C02 emissions worldwide by 2016.

What has Sony done in the last 12 months to improve its carbon footprint?

March 2009 saw the announcement that CO2 emissions from Sony’s European sites have reduced by 90% (equivalent to 113.000 tonnes) over the period FY2000 to FY2008. The achievement of this reduction is part of the overall Sony commitment to reducing its impact on the environment, as mentioned above.

In addition to the reduction of CO2 emissions, Sony Europe was proud to announce last summer that all of its main 32 sites in the region were powered by electricity from renewable sources.

Energy saving measures have the biggest priority, with those that have been implemented by European manufacturing sites accumulating to an energy consumption reduction of 20.000.000 kWh in FY08.

Has Sony released any products that will help customers reduce their carbon emissions? If so, how will these products help the environment?

Our 2010 BRAVIA range of TVs continues to have a strong focus on eco-aware credentials, which have long been one of the cornerstones of our LCD TV development, including our continuing push to reduce power consumption. The 2010 BRAVIA range of TVs incorporates LED backlighting technology, which provides superior performance with lower energy consumption. This reduced energy consumption means the majority of Sony’s 2010 range of TVs have been awarded the ‘EU Flower’ eco symbol, the official EU mark for greener products. As well as reduced energy consumption during use, compliance also includes a take-back policy for recycling and limiting the spread of harmful substances into the environment.

SONY LCDPhoto: SonyInsider

Additionally, all of the TVs include the Energy Saving Switch, whilst the BRAVIA LX900 will feature an updated version of the Presence Sensor and an Ambient Sensor, which will automatically detect the brightness and colour temperature of ambient light in the room to adjust the TV for optimum viewing quality with minimum energy consumption.

This year we are expanding our line-up of LCD TVs using mercury-free LED backlighting, which is more energy efficient than traditional CCFL backlights.

Also, many of the laptops in our VAIO range have been awarded the Energy Star® 5.0 qualification. They are packed with energy saving features, not only do they have the latest energy-efficient LED backlight technologies, the power management settings put you in control of the power consumption so you can work or play all day on a single battery charge.

In our VAIO W series ‘eco edition’ model, nearly 80 per cent of all plastic parts, including the top and bottom cover, are made up of recycled plastics, including CD and DVD waste.

This model is also supplied in an environmentally friendly, 100% recycled material carry bag. The bags replace individual cardboard cartons, reducing packaging material from factory to store and from store to home. This means reduced CO2 emissions when the models are transported, as well as less waste, as there is no outer packaging.

What are Sony’s objectives for 2010 onwards?

For 2010 onwards, our objective is to continue establishing Sony as a sustainable consumer electronics brand and build on the successful work we carried out in 2009. The main aim of our eco activity is to show that technology can be part of a solution to climate change, as well as demonstrate that, as a company, we can help with this change.

Sony offices, warehouses and manufacturing across Europe have already cut CO2 emissions dramatically, but we are aiming to cut emissions by another 10% in 2010 for all of our UK specific sites.

sonyPhoto: Sony

How big an impact do you think our increasing reliance on technology has on the environment?

As a whole, our use and reliance of technology has grown over time. Some innovations in technology have a very positive role to play – such as better communication technology in video conferencing and telepresence solutions – to name a couple of examples – so people don’t have to travel huge distances.

At Sony we recognise that our products can have a negative impact on the environment, especially in terms of energy consumption, so we’re looking at different ways to try to minimise the power consumption of our products.

We’re also championing new ways in which innovations in technology can be part of the solution to specific environmental challenges.

Technology can be effectively reapplied to actually help the environment; an example of this is the Forest Guard project – a powerful initiative devised by a group of school children. Their clever idea was to help prevent forest fires – a constant threat in their region – by having a network of solar powered CCTV cameras survey the forest. Not only do these fires create terrible human devastation but they also have a huge environmental impact – the carbon dioxide emitted during these fires can equal that produced by several million cars on the road in a year. The Forest Guard system would allow people all over the world to log on to view the forests and alert the authorities in the event of a fire.

This was an initiative that Sony wanted to be a part of as we could add our technology and engineering skills to the project and help this young team’s idea become a reality. To apply technology to help solve the problems of climate change is at the heart of Sony’s philosophy and we will continue with these types of initiatives into 2010 and beyond.

Is it profitable to be an eco-friendly company?

Being sustainable is about being socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. So yes, profit is still an important factor in being eco-friendly. Some of the efficiencies and new ways of thinking through processes can bring former costs down and help redefine business models in a new, more economical way.

Both consumers and businesses are becoming ever more conscious of their carbon footprint and how their actions impact on the environment. More and more people are choosing companies based on their environmental standpoint. Companies that embrace environmentally friendly practices, products and services are being viewed favourably by customers and stakeholders alike, sending them a clear message that being sustainable equates to being successful in the future.

Many thanks to Emily Young, from Sony Europe, for this fascinating insight into Sony’s past, present and future green outlook.