It’s challenging times for an electronics conglomerate in an increasingly green world, as two recent stories about Korea’s LG Corp reveal:
• LG Electronics became the first company to be awarded the UL Environment Sustainable Product Certification (SPC) for high tech equipment, thanks to the LG E2350VLED LCD computer monitor, which is to be launched at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
It’s the first product to complete UL Environment's independent, third-party certification for meeting the IEEE 1680 environmental performance benchmark for consumer electronics, which includes Energy Star requirements.
UL Environment (ULE), is a subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories focused on developing standards and independent third-party assessment and certification. Underwriters Laboratories has apparently been testing products and writing standards for more than a century and ULE is pushing those standards into the environmental arena.
• The bad news is that the US Department of Energy (DoE)plans to remove the Energy Star label from some LG fridge-freezer models.
It seems that the DoE has been bearing its teeth recently in terms of enforcing Energy Star accreditation and some LG fridge-freezers have been banned from using the label as a result. This seems to be a long-standing issue, but the DoE proceeded after “ … multiple independent labs have confirmed that when certain LG French-door refrigerator-freezers are tested using existing DoE test procedures, they do not qualify for the Energy Star program”. In response, LG is now suing the DoE.
• But in the dynamic green market, where there are challenges there are also opportunities, and LG is going for it.
At the end of December the company announced the launch of a new business initiative with the unveiling of a solar cell production line capable of delivering around half a million solar modules a year with a total capacity of 120-megawatts (MW), the equivalent energy needs of 40,000 homes annually. A second line will follow in 2011.
“LG intention is to become a global player in the world’s solar industry through a combination of our mass production expertise and strict quality control system,” said Kwan-shik Cho, vice president of Solar Business Team at LG Electronics. The solar market is estimated to be worth around $11bn, 80% of which are the crystal-line solar cells that LG will be manufacturing.
This is a competitive market, but then again the long-term opportunities are huge and LG is the sort of company that can carve a slice of the business.
LG’s fortunes show how companies (of all sizes) have to fight on a number of fronts to maintain their green credentials and take advantage of the opportunities. Anyone who thought the issues of climate change and sustainable business boiled down to ticking boxes and a different marketing focus is down for a rude awakening over the coming years. It’s probably more true of the green ICT market than anywhere else.