CES 2021: Sustainability gets its moment

In some ways, CES seems like a strange place to talk about sustainability.

A lot of the technology highlighted is pretty frivolous and highly disposable. But a growing number of companies are at least nodding toward sustainability and transitioning to a circular economy.

In a panel discussion at CES, Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer at Procter & Gamble discussed their global priorities of reducing waste (particularly plastic) and  water consumption. Their goal is that by 2030, no P&G packaging finds its way into the ocean and plastic use is reduced by 50 percent.

She mentioned their involvement in Loop, an online shopping platform that features durable packaging for many products that are picked up in a special tote bag, cleaned and refilled – making it a zero-waste solution.

Phillips is also doubling down on sustainability, looking at the materials they use, re-using more components, and, even more radically, changing their business and service models, said Robert Metzke, their Head of Sustainability. The company’s operations are slated to be carbon neutral by the end of this year.

He talked about the transition to a service-oriented rather than transaction-oriented mindset at Phillips. For them, that means selling monitoring and diagnostics as a service in hospitals and clinics rather than selling a costly MRI machine.

“I think COVID is an enforced break on business as usual,” he said. “It’s really a pause and reflect button for businesses and I think it shows what we can do together when we put our shoulders behind something. I think it’s an exciting opportunity to rethink how we organize our societies and our businesses.”

In the next three to five years, there will be significant changes, he predicted. Consumers and investors are looking at sustainability practices when deciding where to spend and invest.

“You will see an increasing number of businesses that realize that sustainable business is not just a better way of doing business, it’s the only way of doing business. We only have one planet, and it places hard boundary conditions on how we conduct business. There’s no outsourcing beyond our planetary boundaries. “

Here are some interesting, sustainability-minded products highlighted at CES:

Lasso recycling robot

Lasso recycling robot

Do you ever wonder about how much of the stuff you put int your recycling container actually gets recycled? Not as much as you think. Around half of recycling ends up in a landfill and over 90 percent of plastics are not recycled. Lasso is a startup with a robot that recycles glass, metal, and plastic into “pure” reusable material. The robot has a sensor to ensure an item is recyclable. It then washes the item to prevent contamination, grinds it down, and stores it until Lasso picks it up once a month. An app shows you how you’re reducing your carbon footprint and helps you tracks credits to your account for the value of your recyclables. The robot is scheduled to ship in September 2022 and the company is launching pickup service in the San Francisco Bay and then will expand throughout the United State. Projected cost is around $3,500.

Samsung Eco Remote

Samsung solar remote

With the Eco Remote, Samsung is taking a small, but very practical approach to sustainability. The remote, which will come with its 2021 lineup of 4K and 8K QLED TVs, has a panel of solar cells on its back that charge the internal battery. It’s made with less plastic, and over of quarter of it comes from recycled polyethylene terephthalate. The remote should last for two years before it needs a full recharge, which can be done through a USB-C port. Samsung estimates these remotes will reduce the number of AAA batteries recycled by 99 million over the next seven years (the estimated life cycle of the remote).

Chipolo ONE Ocean Edition

Chipolo ONE Ocean Edition

This Bluetooth tracker tag is made from fishing nets, trawls, and ropes collected from shallow areas of the ocean near shorelines. According to Chipolo, at the pace we’re currently dumping plastics into the ocean there will be more plastic than fish in the sea in 30 years. The company has committed to pledge $1 from the profits of each ONE tracker (retails for around $29) to the non-profit Oceanic Global to support ocean clean-up.

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