Ethical and Green recently had the opportunity to speak with Emily Young at Sony Europe about how Sony are reducing their CO2 emissions. Sony are a company who takes its concern for the environment very seriously with a number of initiatives and projects designed to promote eco-aware projects both internally and externally. Emily provides guidance to other internal teams on how they can transmit Sony’s commitment to eco-friendly activities to their particular regions.
Emily has been working on environmental and sustainability projects for nearly two years, working across all of the various Sony divisions and product categories. It’s a wide and varied role that requires Emily to champion news of working and thinking, which in turn means her ideas and thinking have to stay sharp and fresh. Emily also heads up the internal ‘eco task force’, which is a cross-divisional team focusing on all aspects of eco-related developments. So as you can tell Emily was well placed to answer the questions put to her. It’s great to see a huge company like Sony employing someone to champion eco issues! Check out the interview below:
1.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 per cent 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 the UK businesses who are tasked with leading the way in co-ordinating the activities across the different sites. This includes actions such as cutting general power consumption in facilities and offices, as well as reducing employee travel, especially flights.
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.
2. What have Sony done in the last 12 months to improve their 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.
3. 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 one example, 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 many different ways to try to minimise power consumption in our products.
We’re also championing new ways in which innovations in technology can be part of the solution to some 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.
4. 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 been one of the cornerstones of our LCD TV development for a long time now, including the 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.
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.
5. Does Sony offer an exchange or recycling programme for old Sony merchandise?
Sony Europe is a member of several schemes financing the European Waste Electronic and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations, which include batteries and packaging take-back and recycling schemes.
In 2002 Sony founded (together with Braun, HP & Electrolux), the first pan European WEEE compliance scheme called European Recycling Platform (ERP). ERP’s mission is to deliver compliance & quality, including the prevention of illegal WEEE shipments by regular onsite audits of contracted recyclers and high treatment and recycling standards. In 2008, around 60,000 tons of electronic waste were collected and recycled on behalf of Sony Europe.
6. What are your top tips for becoming greener at home?
You can find a host of energy saving tips on Sony’s website (http://www.sony.co.uk/hub/eco/energy-saving-tips)
Here are three of the best:
Turn off your screen: switch the picture off if you’re listening to music through your laptop, and in a year you will save enough energy to charge your MP3 player more than 10,000 times
Switch off connected equipment: we know we should switch the TV off when not watching. But did you know that by switching off connected equipment like games consoles and home cinema systems for just one night could save enough energy to run the tumble dryer for 2 hours?
Turn down the brightness: most TVs and laptops allow you to change the brightness of the picture. Turn the brightness down, and in a year you could save enough energy to run sixty loads of laundry.
There we have it. Some great examples of how Sony are stepping up to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions. If you are in the market for new electrical items check out Sony’s range of eco-friendly products. Not only will you be helping the environment but you’ll also save money on your electricity bill which can’t be bad.
Hopefully other big companies will follow Sony’s lead and improve their eco-credentials. It’s also great to see that they have signed up to the 10:10 campaign.
Many thanks to Emily for taking the time to answer the questions.