As dwindling natural resources pose a threat to our nation’s economy, environment, and security, developing sustainable business practices has become more important than ever before. In order to meet the needs of current generations without compromising those of the future, today’s industries must take responsibility for the ways we impact society and the natural environment.

The consumer electronics industry is no exception, and has long demonstrated a commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices. This emphasis on sustainability is evident in everything from green design and manufacturing of new products to electronics recycling, or eCycling.

eCycling is one of the most important issues facing the consumer electronics industry today. As new products hit the market, the industry must develop innovative ways to dispose of older, outdated products. Keeping old electronics out of landfills is good eco-stewardship, but it makes economic sense as well. It is a waste to landfill old electronics, particularly when they contain valuable resources that can be used in other ways.

In the spirit of good eco-stewardship, the electronics industry launched the eCycling Leadership Initiative nearly a year ago. It’s an unprecedented effort to recycling one billion pounds annually by 2016. If you’d like to participate in this effort, go to to find a drop-off location near you.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, to come up with creative, eco-friendly solutions for recycling old cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and monitors. The results are an exciting example of how innovation and competition can be used to tackle the important issues facing our industry – and our planet.

Before the advent of today’s flat-screen display technologies, CRT glass was used in nearly all television and computer monitors. Because it contained lead, which is a health and environmental hazard, old CRT glass could not simply be disposed of like regular glass. Instead, it was recycled for use in new television and computer monitors.

As lighter and smaller flat-panel monitors hit the market, CRT glass – and the recycling market for it – has become obsolete. Faced with the challenge of disposing of billions of pounds of potentially harmful CRT glass, the electronics recycling industry is in need of creative and cost-effective solutions.

In response, CEA, the Environmental Defense Fund, and InnoCentive sponsored an open crowdsourcing Eco-Challenge to find environmentally and economically sound ways to recycle old CRT glass. More than 350 solvers from around the world participated in the competition, and prizes of $1,000 to $5,000 were awarded to the best solutions.

One award-winning idea involved removing the lead from the used glass for use in other industries, while another proposed using the glass in tile and bricks. The winning solutions are available to the public at in order to raise public awareness of these potential new uses for old CRT glass. CEA will also work with electronics recyclers to introduce these and other emerging practices into the industry.

The CRT glass Eco-Challenge is just one example of the consumer electronics industry’s continued commitment to environmental sustainability and efficiency. Last year, industry leaders launched a recycling initiative with the goal of recycling one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016 – enough electronic equipment to fill an entire 71,000-seat NFL stadium.

But the consumer electronics industry’s dedication to eco-stewardship is not limited to eCycling; in recent years, electronics manufacturers, retailers and recyclers have also made huge strides in the areas of green design and manufacturing, clean delivery systems, and energy efficiency.

Over the past decade, technological advancements and marketplace competition has led to a marked reduction in the energy consumption of flat-screen television and computer monitors. Additionally, the materials footprint of liquid crystal, light emitting diode (LED), and plasma displays is significantly smaller than that of their clunky CRT predecessors.

CEA issues sustainability reports as well as a number of studies on environmental responsibility in the consumer electronics industry. In 2011, we published a whitepaper recommending policies aimed at reducing national energy consumption.  CEA also operates, an online resource that educates consumers about purchasing, using, and recycling energy efficient devices.

While there has been progress in achieving sustainability efforts, we still have a long way to go. By encouraging innovation in the field of eCycling, meeting green product standards, and educating policymakers and consumers alike on energy needs and consumption, the consumer electronics industry is taking bold steps towards a future that is sustainable, socially responsible, and environmentally sound.