The largest companies in the electronics industry are in the midst of improving or adopting sustainability practices in their new product lifecycles to include a greater focus on more sustainable design, raw materials extraction, manufacturing, distribution, use, and end-of-life management. As part of this effort, corporate policies, legal requirements, and certification processes are being used to drive economic, environmental, and social responsibility throughout electronics supply chains. According to a new report from Pike Research, sustainability initiatives will continue to experience strong growth in the electronics industry over the next five years. The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that, while sustainability efforts are already impacting the shipment of approximately 68 billion electronic product units as of 2010, this number will increase by more than 50 percent to 103 billion units by 2015.
"As a corporate strategy, sustainability is growing in importance among electronics companies," says industry analyst Bob Boggio. "This is particularly true with manufacturers that compete in the consumer electronics sectors. And Fortune 500 companies are more likely to have already embraced the concepts of sustainability, or the triple bottom line, of the lifecycles of their electronics products than their smaller competitors."
Boggio adds that, in terms of product unit shipments, sustainability initiatives have the greatest influence in the semiconductor and component sector, which represents more than 95 percent of total unit volumes in the electronics industry. However, in terms of impact on overall electronics revenue, the largest category is in the computers, peripherals, and office equipment sector, in which the impact on total product revenues will surpass US$1 trillion in 2011. The computing industry is also the sector with the highest percentage impact of sustainability programs on their total business.
Pike Research's analysis includes an assessment of sustainability initiatives in individual electronics sectors. The companies who scored highest in each sector, according to this evaluation, were:
- Computer and office equipment companies: Hewlett-Packard, followed by Dell
- Information technology services companies: IBM, followed by Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC)
- Network and other communications equipment companies: Cisco Systems, followed by Motorola
- Telecommunications companies: AT&T, followed by Verizon Communications
- Semiconductor and component companies: Intel, followed by Jabil Circuit
- Home entertainment companies: Samsung, followed by Sony Electronics
Pike Research's report, "Sustainable Electronics Design", provides a comprehensive examination of sustainability trends in electronics design and manufacturing across major industry categories including computers, peripherals, and office equipment; networks, enterprise computing, and servers; telecommunications and broadcasters; semiconductors and components; home entertainment; and electronics wholesalers. The study assesses and ranks the sustainability initiatives of major electronics manufacturers, and includes forecasts of the impact of sustainable practices, both in terms of unit shipments and revenue, through 2015.