Sony’s Eco Activities or How Technology Can Be Part of The Solution to Climate Change [Interview]

March 30, 2010 / No Comments

Last week we got some time with Emily Young, General Manager for Sony Europe, Eco Communications, regarding Sony’s eco activities in 2009 and its plans for 2010. We wanted to know what Sony thinks about the future of our planet and what green means to them.

Sony Eco Sonys Eco Activities or How Technology Can Be Part of The Solution to Climate Change [Interview]

Check it out below.

A.I. “Being green”, what does it mean for Sony?

E.Y. At Sony, “being green” is being environmentally aware, responsible and active.

We believe that technology can play a key role in solving some of the environmental issues that the planet is facing, and we have set ourselves strict standards and sustainability targets which include lowering energy consumption, reusing materials and effective recycling.

Our Environmental Compliance Lab, located in Stuttgart, Germany, specialises in efficient and accurate analysis of chemical compounds and materials that are needed for electronic products. Every Sony product must pass our compliance tests before they are put into the market. Between 2005 and 2010 around 5,000 analytical tests were carried out on Sony products and parts.

As an example, SS-00259, Sony’s internal set of standards for global control of chemical substances was established in March 2002, making it possible for Sony to control the use of environmentally sensitive chemical substances in parts and materials.

Sony also takes a leadership stance in the development of international test standards (IEC 62321) as a contribution to minimise the environmental impact of the electronic industries worldwide.

Finally, “eco-conscious” thinking influences our whole product lifecycle – from the materials we source, recycle and reuse in the production process, to the development of smaller packaging that takes less space for more energy efficient transportation. At Sony we are always looking for ways to make our business more sustainable and reduce the impact on the environment.

This includes looking beyond our current range of products and championing new initiatives and business areas that benefit from using Sony technology and products for environmental improvement – thus ensuring our technologies have a positive impact on the environment too.

A.I. It’s a fact that many of the so-called “green companies” are doing it for more media attention. Does Sony really believe that their products are doing their deed for a greener future?

E.Y. Designing and creating products that are more eco friendly is important to Sony – like our W series VAIO and our new range of BRAVIA TVs which have lots of energy efficient and eco features.

Also, among our product development initiatives, we’re using more and more recycled materials, making use of renewable energy in factories and offices (100% renewable energy use across 32 sites in Europe alone) and we work towards having zero waste at all times.

We also try to encourage reapplication/reuse of our technologies into other areas – such as with the forest guard project (where some school children came up with the idea to use solar powered Sony CCTV cameras as an early wildfire detection system.) Sony engineers worked with the children’s idea and developed all the relevant software and prototypes to make this idea become a reality – this having a really positive impact on their environment. This project has been shortlisted by the Ethical Corporation for “authentic communications” so we feel by doing real, genuine activity that is the best way to get our message across.

A.I. What were your environmental plans for 2009 and have you managed to fulfil them?

E.Y. Our plan for 2009 was to make an impact and a difference to the environment by supporting eco-friendly initiatives, showing commitment to a wide range of environmental targets and to be viewed as a sustainable brand across Europe.

Aside from our ongoing eco-conscious product development, Sony was heavily involved in two successful eco initiatives in 2009.

The Forest Guard project was a powerful initiative devised by a group of children from California. Their clever idea was to help prevent the devastating forest fires – a constant threat in their region – by having a network of solar powered CCTV cameras survey the forest. This 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 to collaborate with the Forest Guard initiative and support this project. Finally, the real magic, we believe, was the hundreds of thousands of eyes out there on the Net attracted by impressive forest imagery.

The initiative won the Climate Actions Contest at the 2009 Children’s Climate Call competition in Copenhagen. Sony was a partner of the contest and worked with the children over eight months to develop a working prototype of the solar powered CCTV cameras system, which was tested in the children’s home town of Lake Tahoe, California.

Sony also worked closely with the Prince Rainforest Project on a series of art exhibitions, showcasing stunning images taken by Daniel Beltrá, the winner of Prince’s Rainforests Project 2009. Photography is a powerful medium with which to communicate the beauty of our environment and the importance of preserving it for future generations. By combining our commitment to the environment with years of technological expertise, Sony gave visitors the opportunity to relive Daniel’s incredible journey.

It is through innovation and hard work that Sony’s green initiatives have been a success and made an impact on society. Recently, the green website, Environmental Graffiti, named Sony as their top green company of 2009, commending their work on the Prince’s Rainforest Project and Forest Guard. Sony was also nominated for the Ethical Corporations ‘Authentic Communications’ award 2010, for a campaign which was recognised as trustworthy, convincing and genuine by its audiences.

A.I. What are your objectives for 2010 onwards?

E.Y. 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 the eco activity we do is to demonstrate that technology can be part of the solution to climate change and how 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.

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 in the UK businesses who are tasked with leading the way in coordinating the activities and the communications 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 a part of a real commitment in our organisation to reduce C02 across our business and has been formalised in an overall target to cut a further 30% in C02 emissions globally by 2016.

A.I. Is it profitable to be an eco-friendly company?

E.Y. Being sustainable is also about being socially, environmentally as well as 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.

Editor’s note: thanks Emily for the opportunity to know more about Sony’s eco moves.