The following statements in no way reflect the opinion of the Eileen Fisher company or its brand.
As an employee of Eileen Fisher for more than three years, I’ve come to learn that there is always a way to make the process of production more environmentally friendly. Eileen Fisher takes great pride in its production of organic sustainable materials, fair treatment of its workers and in limiting the waste that comes with large-scale production in participating communities.
I firmly believe that, while the Digital Signage industry has already made commendable strides in this venture, more can be done.
OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) using organic semiconductors to create light emitting panels are already at the forefront of not only visual technologies, but energy efficient technologies as well. Without the need for backlighting, these panels use less energy and are more durable than traditional LED and LCD displays. This means less waste in landfills. Additionally, advancements in projectors have addressed efficiency and sustainability by default. The need for higher resolution projectors has ushered in laser projectors. These energy efficient solutions use far less power. The elimination of bulbs also reduces waste. This is great, but what more can the industry do to improve sustainability over a broader spectrum?
Changes can be made on both the production side and the disposal side of manufacturing.
As glass is a major component of displays, can they not be made from recycled materials? Additionally, there are other components that can be made from recycled materials. The plastic frames and bezels as well as the materials used for circuit boards can all be made from recycled plastics. Furthermore, manufacturers can implement cleaner production lines and more energy efficient facilities thereby reducing harmful waste in the environment.
Although manufacturers could also produce products that last longer than five years average, there is however a problem with that. There is a struggle between the advancement of digital signage technology and the lifespan of the display. Because the technology moves so fast, the desire for the most advanced display moves with it. In a way, to have a display last more than five years would render it obsolete before its warranty even expires. Obviously, everyone wants to keep up with the pace of new technologies, but manufacturing more reliable components would help the lifespan of the product and cost less.
Alternative shipping materials could be put into place as well. The fragile nature of displays dictates the use of packing materials that aren’t exactly biodegradable, and using recyclable packing materials would ease landfill usage.
On the disposal side of the process, discarded materials could be collected and recycled/reused. This would not only benefit the environment, but could cut costs for the businesses that produce digital signage. There are currently regions that are already restricting the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing. Components using lead, cadmium and mercury are restricted in California and in Europe. Taking this lead and making this a requirement with display manufacturing across the board would go a long way to helping the industry become greener.
Another avenue for the industry to explore could be lobbying congress for incentives for manufacturing in a more sustainable fashion. This could be done through tax breaks or other types of subsidies.
Researching new technologies is vital to the business and must be encouraged for it to move forward. The Digital Signage industry is already making great strides in more eco-friendly solutions, but I believe that more cohesion is needed between manufacturing reliable products and protecting our fragile environment. I believe that not only digital display manufacturers should strive to achieve this, but all industries have a responsibility to this end.