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Environment Tech

IFA: Sustainable gadgetry promises smaller carbon footprint

Numerous startups working to improve ecological performance in consumer electronics will be showcased at the IFA expo in Berlin next month

Sustainability has become an omnipresent topic. In the food and clothing industries in particular, resource-friendliness has been a hot media topic for many years. But in the case of electronic devices what exactly does sustainability mean? At IFA 2022 from 2 to 6 September, visitors will receive an answer to this question.

At the IFA NEXT innovation hub in Hall 20 on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds, research institutes, startups, associations and experts from industry and science will present innovative solutions for driving development towards greater sustainability in the electronics industry. Resource-friendly and carbon-neutral production methods, repairability and recycling are among the crucial aspects here.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) will be presenting strategies for a circular economy. Taking smartphones and tablets as an example, it will demonstrate their environmental impact and present ideas for making recyclable products. “Design, Manufacture, Use… and then?“ For each of these phases the speakers will present ways to make sustainable products. Based on each generation of the Fairphone they will show how, taking their ecological performance into account, smartphones can be designed in a modular way – which is vital for repairability and recyclability.

aking a fully recyclable tablet as an example, presentations will show how SMEs can make use of digital methods for small production runs in local manufacturing. The production phase of a smart device is the biggest emitter of CO2, so to achieve a positive ecological balance it is critical to keep the product in long use. Visitors can obtain even more fascinating insights by attending repair workshops, talks and manufacturers’ software demonstrations.

Cooperative Commown from France will also present innovations with a focus on sustainability. The company rents out a wide range of electronic devices and offers numerous services – including repairs and technical support. This not only saves money, but also reduces CO2 output.

Microplastics pose another environmental challenge. Particles measuring less than 5 mm not only impact the oceans’ ability to absorb CO2, but also pollute water, the atmosphere and foods. At IFA NEXT the UK-based company Matter will present an innovative technology for tackling microplastic pollution.

precycle’s founding idea was the following: with the help of digital solutions to offset the carbon footprint from plastic consumption and thus benefit society and the environment. The project of the Fachhochschule Potsdam has already received approval from EXIST, a development programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

The total online presence (plugin, blockchain, app etc.) of this offsetting service for the first time offers a large measure of transparency. With the help of plastic credits and donations the company wants to establish plastic offsetting among retailers and to assist companies and consumers to become plastic-neutral. The goal is for every kilo of plastic entering the economic cycle to be offset by retrieving and recycling one kilo of plastic waste in the Global South. The company also wants to ensure that local waste workers are officially employed and have access to health insurance, employment protection and education.

BerlinGreen’s idea is to bring plants into the home all year round, particularly in the city where nature is far away. With its GreenBox, the startup from the German capital has developed an innovative technology for clean and efficient indoor gardening on small areas and in any type of apartment. According to the company, the sophisticated system with its efficient LED lighting and sensors ensures cultivating greens, herbs and other plants is easy and successful.

Always a green step ahead – event programme on the key topic of sustainability on 5 September

A wide-ranging programme featuring lectures, expert panel discussions and startup pitches will augment the exhibition. On Monday, 5 September on the IFA NEXT Innovation Engine stage, the focus will be on sustainability and high-profile speakers from science, politics and industry will share their visions of the future. At lectures and panel discussions visitors can gain an in-depth insight into various issues surrounding sustainability and green tech, including global and social responsibility, plastic pollution, climate protection, prolonging life cycles, profitability and data protection.

10.45 a.m. – Innovating Tech as a Force for Good with Consumer Trust in the Balance

Speaker: Joe Baguley, CTO EMEA, VMware (lecture in English)

11.00 a.m. – Save lives and protect the planet – impact innovation in action

Speaker: Christoph Burkhardt, CEO/consultant, OneLife (English)

11.15 a.m. – Ready for the age of circular services? Trends, strategies & fields of action for brands

Speaker: Sebastian Daus, co-founder and CEO, FixFirst (German)

11.30 a.m. – Uniting businesses and individuals to fight the plastic problem

Speaker: Christian Rühlmann, CEO, precycle (English)

11.45 a.m. – Microplastics: small size, big consequences

Speaker: Adam Root, founder and CEO, Matter. (English)

12.00 noon – New eco-design regulations and energy efficiency labelling for smartphones and tablets.

Panel discussion with Karsten Schischke, group leader, Product Ecodesign and Circular Materials, Fraunhofer IZM, and other experts (panel discussion language: German)

1 p.m. – How to make consumer electronics more sustainable AND (still) profitable?

Speaker: Robin Angele, head of the German Office, Kooperative Commown (English)

1.15 p.m. – Data usage, but sustainable please!

Speaker: Jessica Dittmar, CMO, polypoly (German)

1.30 p.m. – Consumer Tech Goes Green: Why now?

Speaker: Nehir Boyacioglu, co-founder, Vahaa Smart Garden (English)

2.30 p.m. – Startup Days: why are we doing this? – The impact factor

Summary: Shaping tomorrow’s world involves a sustained effort. In his startup story about Germany’s first green unicorn Enpal, Dr. Wolfgang Gründiger outlines the possibilities. Policymakers are changing course too. How can startups help to shape the long-term transformation of Germany as a business location? How are they contributing to a climate-neutral market economy? These are the issues the panel discussion will examine with Thomas Heilmann (CDU), member of the German Bundestag, and Silke Gebel (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), member of the Berlin House of Representatives. Furthermore, eight startups will present their business ideas for making the world a little bit better.

For additional information: IFA Exhibitors.

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