Electrical giants sign green pledge

Global electrical powerhouses including Panasonic, Samsung and LG Electronics are among 50 major players in the electricals sector who have signed up to a new green commitment that focuses on reducing the environmental impact of the products they manufacture.

The new commitment, called Electrical and Electronic Sustainability Action Plan (esap), has been launched today at WRAP’s Resources Limited conference in London (18 November).

It will be led by WRAP on behalf of UK governments and builds on the delivery body’s expertise in this area.

According to WRAP, it will help organisations – that design, manufacture, sell, repair, re-use and recycle electrical and electronic products – to work collaboratively across the product life-cycle. Signatories will commit to reducing the environmental impact of electrical and electronic products in ways that bring benefits to consumers and industry alike.

Signatories’ actions, which include: implementing new business models such as take-back and resale; extending product durability; and, gaining greater value from reuse and recycling, could significantly boost the UK economy as well as help future proof our resources.

It’s estimated that the UK market value for trading pre-owned equipment to be worth up to £3 billion, according to WRAP. Encouraging the trade-in of used TVs alone could grow UK GDP by over £750 million per year by 2020.

With esap signatories representing two thirds of the UK’s TV sales this vision could become a reality, according to WRAP. If the TV model was scaled up to the whole electronics sector, this could increase GDP by around £5.25 billion.

‘Reward, Refurb and Resell’

In a statement, WRAP said: “This is a win – win situation for consumers and businesses. Consumers could get money for a product they no longer want, someone who can’t normally afford a product or particular brand can now do so from a reputable source.

“Businesses can generate great customer loyalty and reach a market basis previously lost to them through the simple 3 R route – Reward, Refurb and Resell.”

Telecommunications firm Sky is one of the signatories to esap. A Sky spokesperson said: “At Sky, we’re always looking at ways to make our products better and more sustainable year on year.

“Our new partnership with WRAP will help us to drive even greater resource efficiencies across the whole product life cycle, with a particular focus on the reuse and recycling of our products. We look forward to collaborating both with WRAP and our fellow signatories.”

Revolutionising the electricals sector

WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin said esap has the potential to “revolutionise” the manufacture, repair and recycling of electrical products.

Speaking at WRAP’s conference in London this morning (18 November), she said: “It’s easy to think that most of the impact of electrical products is in their use, but this is not true. Many products require more energy to make than to use, and this is directly related to the material complexity or product mass. This is something that is totally invisible to many people.

“For example, we estimate that a mobile phone would have to be used for 30 years for its in-use energy requirement to exceed the extraction and manufacturing energy requirement. The more complicated we make products, the greater the proportion of their impact manufacture.

“We need to make better use of the products we have, and to make them better.

“This is not just about reaping environmental benefits. It is about safeguarding businesses, making better use of resources.”

‘More freedom to develop new ideas’

Elsewhere, Goodwin reiterated that WRAP’s application for charitable status was currently with the Charity Commission.

She said becoming a charity would help WRAP to “have more freedom to develop new ideas and new ways of working”.

She added: I hope the way WRAP continues to develop will bury once and for all the urban myth that WRAP is a part of the Government. We very much value our work for Government, but we are not part of it. In fact, that distinction is one of the reasons we can work with businesses in the way we do.”

Liz Gyekye

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