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Sustainability in AV is No Longer a Choice

Creating Sustainability in AV

If you do a non-industry-specific LinkedIn search for corporate sustainability offices (or officers), it results in over 66,000 listings. Within those lists are a limited number of commercial AV manufacturers, each with a defined sustainability agenda – but it seems that very few of their customers know about them. The likely reason is that the sustainability officers are more focused on corporate agendas, such as reducing waste generation and carbon emissions in manufacturing, regulatory compliance, workforce efficiency, or even brand enhancement. For most of them, Sustainability has become a business imperative as well as a responsibility, but they fail to address the issue at ground level, where the lifecycle of AV products, from sale to end-of-life and disposal, ends up as the end-users’ responsibility.

I know of no AV integrator or distributor who receives manufacturer sustainability bulletins about obsolete product take-back programs, or recycling and repurposing guidance for outdated or end-of-life equipment, and I am sure that no one wants to talk about reducing AV product consumption.

Look for Opportunities

With few exceptions, virtually all AV equipment contains printed circuit boards (PCBs). Though PCBs are a small percentage of e-waste, they are responsible for the majority of its toxicity (containing such elements as nickel, cadmium, lead, arsenic, chromium, barium) so any AV product can potentially release toxic material if disposed of in an unsafe manner, such as in dumpsters or landfills. Despite these toxicity risks, there are no manufacturer programs that offer guidance or training in the safe disposal of obsolete, damaged or outdated AV equipment.

That is why SAVe (Sustainability in AV) designed a certification program unique to the AV industry that addresses this oversight.

As part of a broader curriculum that focuses on sustainable practices, it offers alternative strategies for the disposal, recycling, or donation of end-of-life or unwanted AV products, which can otherwise add to the very big footprint of the world’s electronic waste.

SAVe Certification’s criteria and training will work for any size AV organization that wants to make an environmental, social, and economic commitment to a safer and more sustainable path. It also positions an organization to contribute to the AV industry’s role in achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Goals).

Sustainability in AV Certs

Certification takes a day and includes a workshop and planning session to help AV professionals develop a realistic action plan that will address electronic waste reduction, working with certified recyclers, and a broader, but more localized, community agenda that parallels the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The training will also include an introduction to SAVe’s “Save a Second Life” program which was developed in cooperation with the Commission on Voluntary Service & Action (CVSA). Through that organization, functional but unwanted or unused AV equipment can be donated to a network of qualified non-profit community organizations.

Embracing sustainability is not a hindrance; it can be an opportunity to forge a sustainable future for commercial AV, where innovation thrives alongside environmental and social responsibility.

About SAVe Certification:

The following link will take you to the SAVe Certification site: Get Involved

John Thomas SaveAV
John Thomas

After 45 years in the AV industry, John Thomas retired from Visitec in 2020 and joined Miami University’s Project Dragonfly Master’s Program to focus on Sustainability. As a board member of SAVe, he has been researching electronic waste disposal in his former industry to advocate for a set of Best Practices in relation to electronic waste. He can be reached at john@saveav.org.

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