A Taiwanese flat panel display maker has claimed to make the world’s first television set with carbon footprint verification. AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) announced last week it had completed carbon footprint verification for one of its 32″ LCD TVs according to standards measured by the United Kingdom Accredation Service (UKAS) PAS2050 Pilot Project.
Carbon Footprint Verification is the process of weighing the carbon impact of a product or service through its lifecycle. In the case of a television set, this would include the impact of the extraction of raw materials, manufacture, distribution, consumer usage and the eventual recycling or discarding of the TV.
Since there is no one internationally agreed standard for measuring carbon footprint, AUO’s claim is only as solid as the PAS 2050 standard. The actual measurement of the television’s carbon footprint was conducted by SGS, a global certification company, and the purpose of the UKAS project is to essentially certify the certifiers, like SGS, according to unspecificed “global standards.”
Knowing is Half the Battle
At any rate, AUO’s footprint verification seems to have passed mustard with the UKAS, the first IT company to do so, according to a press release. It seems likely that more electronics manufacturers will start adding carbon footprint verification to their products, as it is a relatively inexpensive way to be more environmentally aware.
Carbon verification should not be confused with carbon neutrality, which is the state in which a product has a net zero carbon impact. Neutrality usually requires buying carbon offsets and/or drastically changing supply and manfacturing processes. But carbon verification does allow the consumer to weigh the carbon impact of the product they buy, and, if they wish, offset its impact themselves.
Measuring footprint is also often the first step in reducing it. From the AUO press release: “When developing the next generation of eco products, the carbon database system with detailed carbon data of the supply chain will lead AUO to the leading position in low carbon product innovation.” In other words, now that they have the data, it’s easier to figure out how to lower it.
AUO is one of those giant Asian electronics parts suppliers no one has heard of. Their displays can be found in laptops, cellphones and television sets under different brand names; Lenovo appears to use their screens, as does Compaq. AUO also makes solar PV panels, and was recently named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Asia Pacific Index.