Ask the Board – August 1, 2016 | MARGOT MYERS


How could the digital signage industry be greener than it already is?

About five years ago, a federal taskforce issued the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship (NSES), which was designed to establish “an innovative, flexible, pragmatic, and yet unified framework to evolve electronics stewardship.” The Strategy addresses how to ensure that “electronics are designed, purchased, and managed in a more sustainable manner, help protect human health and the environment from harmful effects associated with the unsafe handling and disposal of used electronics, and simultaneously promote new and innovative technologies of the future.”

The NSES lays out a set of voluntary standards using an independent rating system – the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) – to identify greener electronic products. Electronics certified by the EPEAT system “contain fewer toxic materials, use less energy, last longer, use more recycled materials in the product and packaging, and are more easily recycled or upgraded than other electronics.” It becomes the responsibility of those who spec out the components of a network to choose more environmentally friendly products whenever possible. The number of certified electronics recycling companies is growing rapidly, and our industry needs to support the greenest reuse/recycle options.

Beyond using more environmentally friendly electronics components, there are some other ways to make digital signage greener. The use of centralized controls to turn displays off when they aren’t needed is a simple way to reduce energy use. If a retail store opens at 9 a.m., turn the displays on at 8:55 and automatically turn them off after the store closes at 9 p.m.

In calculating the ROI for a digital signage network, one of the considerations is whether printed signage can be reduced or eliminated. If it can, that is green in several ways—reducing the use of paper (trees) to print signs, eliminating the use of energy to print the signs and reducing the carbon footprint of trucks carrying signs to thousands of destinations.

From buying greener electronics to complex approaches to recycling and reusing digital signage components to something simple like turning off displays when they aren’t needed, there are multiple opportunities for our industry to contribute to reducing energy use and make good decisions for our businesses and our planet.

(All quotes from Moving Sustainable Electronics Forward: An Update to the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship. Retrieved from

About Author

Director, Global Marketing & Communications
The Platt Retail Institute

Industry Consultants Council

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