LG Electronics counts recycling as one of its key design features. How can other companies be moved to adopt such a mindset?
June 16, 2015
John Shegerian: Welcome to another edition of Green Is Good. This is the ISRI edition of Green Is Good. We’re here in downtown Vancouver at the Vancouver Convention Center. And we’re so honored to have with us today John Taylor. He is the VP of Public Affairs for LG – Life’s Good – and you can see more about LG at www.LGE.com. Welcome to Green Is Good, John. John Taylor: Thank you. John Shegerian: Hey, you know, John, before we get talking about the great company and the iconic brand that you work for, LG, share a little bit about the John Taylor story and how you came to become this VP of Public Affairs and how you joined LG. John Taylor: Well, I’m a recovering journalist actually. I started at a company called Zenith within the United States, which was later acquired by LG. So I’ve actually been an LG guy for 20 years now. John Shegerian: Wow. John Taylor: And have seen this amazing brand, LG, grow exponentially in the United States. Both as a brand that consumers love generally and one that’s very proud of our role in environmentalism and really driving sustainability. John Shegerian: And LG now is the second largest OEM in the entire world. John Taylor: I think if you look at the landscape of various products – and the cool thing about LG is we have everything from mobile phones and tablets to refrigerators and washing machines to the latest cutting edge television sets. It’s a very interesting company, and we’re a top tier player around the world in all those categories. John Shegerian: Wow. And today we’re going to talk about all the efforts you’re making in environmental sustainability. And especially we’re going to talk about the Design for Recycling. Can you share with our audience, just frame that up, what does “Design for Recycling” really mean? John Taylor: Design for Recycling, simply put, is when we design a product, we look at the entire lifecycle from cradle-to-grave. In particular, when you are looking ahead to the end of life of the product, reducing the number of components, reducing the hazardous materials, making it simple to disassemble. And reducing the amount of packaging. There is a whole range of things that can be done at the design phase – at the cradle phase, before you get to the grave phase – to make sure that it is very much easier to recycle and more likely to keep it out of the landfill. John Shegerian: Different OEMs of course have different cultures and DNAs. How important is Design for Recycling at LGE? John Taylor: Well if you look at our commitment to sustainability overall and from the standpoint of designing our products we look at three main areas. Human area, energy and resources. And they all fit together. Starting with the human factor, of course our products need to be easy to use, they have to be attractive to consumers, but also that’s where things like making a washing machine that is quiet, reducing the amount of hazardous materials in those products to make it really focused on the human factor. Moving on to energy that cuts across everything we do as well. We are very proud in the United States to be an Energy Star Partner of the Year for the fourth year in a row. John Shegerian: Wow. John Taylor: We focus a lot on the energy efficiency of the product when it’s used but also reducing the amount of energy and water it takes during the production processes. And finally when you get to the resources area – and that involves, again, a cradle-to-grave, a full lifecycle look at the product, starting with the resources that it takes to build the product and more importantly what happens to those resources. Can they be reused? How do they get recycled after the product is done being used? John Shegerian: Compared to 20 years ago when you were just joining with LG, the brand that has grown and grown many times since, are the products now made out of more sustainable, more recycled materials than ever before? John Taylor: Absolutely. In fact, if you just look at the entire industry, it has been transformed during those 20 years and things have moved at Internet speed. Particularly in the area of sustainability there has been an increasing emphasis throughout the industry in making our products easier to recycle and more energy efficient across the board. John Shegerian: Got you. And this is the ISRI edition of Green Is Good. Why is this so important in terms of – what is ISRI’s relationship with LGE and why has LGE been so honored by ISRI in recent times for your design and recycling initiatives? John Taylor: Well, LG Electronics is very proud to be named the 2015 Design for Recycling Award winner. It’s a tremendous honor. It’s the highest honor bestowed by ISRI. We’re joining a blue chip group of former honorees like Dell and Coca-Cola Bottling Company and other big companies. I think it speaks volumes about the commitment of our company in this area but also the recognition by ISRI and its members of the importance of Design for Recycling. John Shegerian: You are a global brand. LG is a global brand. You mentioned that at the top of the show. Talk a little bit about your sustainability and recycling initiatives around the world. When we were off the air, before we went on, you started mentioning to me about e-Stewards. Share a little bit about how you were a leader on the e-Stewards movement in terms of recycling. John Taylor: For your listeners who are not familiar with e-Stewards, there is a group called the Basel Action Network that really created the gold standard for recycling and the principles that recyclers should adhere to. I don’t remember all of them off the top of my head. John Shegerian: Sure. John Taylor: But they are to make sure that products are handled in a very responsible way throughout the entire chain of recycling. LG was very proud to be the first global e-Stewards enterprise partner. I’m a U.S. guy, and I can tell you what we do in the United States. We work with hundreds of e-Stewards recyclers across the country through a very robust electronics recycling program that takes back many, many tons of electronics every year. John Shegerian: Right. To offset all the sales that you make as one of the leading brands in the world. So talk a little bit about your other sustainability and recycling programs outside of the U.S. or Canada and how you’re a leader with regards to sustainability globally speaking. John Taylor: Again, I am the U.S. guy, but I know that same principles of e-Stewards are applied across the globe. John Shegerian: I got you. I got you. So you take the best practices here and then you’ve got to apply it everywhere. John Taylor: Absolutely. John Shegerian: I got you. Talk a little bit about winning this award from ISRI in terms of Design for Recycling and inspiring other manufacturers to follow suit. To really make their products more sustainable, as you say, from a human perspective, an energy perspective and from a resource perspective. John Taylor: Well, we made a commitment to ISRI to be the poster child for Design for Recycling. We’re so proud of what we do. If you look at the two products that were really examined through this whole process, these are cutting edge new products. The new LG OLED TV – Organic Light Emitting Diode Television – and our new 4K Ultra HD TV. These are the two fastest growing categories in the United States and around the world, and they really epitomize what Design for Recycling is all about. When you first see these products, they’re absolutely stunning, but the first thing you notice is they’re all screen. So we have eliminated so much plastic and metal, as we have made the products thinner and smaller and lighter. We’ve significantly reduced the number of parts. All of course important to the future of recycling. But when you look at everything we’ve done, including creating disassembly reports for recyclers so they know exactly what to look for, what tools they need to disassemble them. John Shegerian: Wow. John Taylor: That’s something that is part of all of our products. But using these two, I think, are really great examples that with resonate with the recycling community. John Shegerian: Can you explain to our audience – those two products you just mentioned, I’m not familiar with. I’ve heard of them but I don’t fully understand them. Can you explain what the OLED is and the 4K means to our audience, so they can get a little bit more understanding behind it. John Taylor: So separate from all the sustainability. John Shegerian: Yeah. John Taylor: Just speaking as a consumer. John Shegerian: Yeah. John Taylor: OLED is the next generation of technology for home viewing. It has been hailed by industry pundits as “the best TV picture ever,” because you get perfect blacks, amazing color. It is in a form factor that is less than four millimeters thick. It is just an amazing screen. They’re just rolling out now here in the United States and around the world. and only LG is bringing those to market. John Shegerian: No kidding. And then what is the 4K? John Taylor: So 4K is kind of the next generation. After high-definition TV, it’s called Ultra HD. So today’s HD TV is incredible with two million pixels on the screen. Ultra HD gives you four times that. You will have eight million pixels on the screen to give you that really incredible detail that you have never seen before on television. John Shegerian: So the quality that LG has in the pipeline and hitting the consumers here in the United States and around the world is just incredible with these two new lines of televisions. John Taylor: It’s really exciting. And there are, certainly, other greener elements of these in addition to the Design for Recycling. For instance, LG was the first to be certified by UL Environment for a new certification they call Greenguard. They look at the emissions from plastics and other components in your home. This is a home air quality standard. John Shegerian: Wow. John Taylor: And these are the first TVs in the world to reach that. LG’s OLEDs were the first to achieve Energy Star. The first OLED TVs to achieve the EPA’s standards for energy efficiency as well. John Shegerian: So talk a little bit about energy. So really you’re not only just a leader when it comes to recycling, as you mentioned, with regards to e-Stewards and in terms of resources and the materials that you’re using. Your televisions and your other electronic products are Energy Star, which means they use less energy. They’re more energy efficient. John Taylor: That’s correct. In fact, if you look at a variety of LG products, there is the highest level called Energy Star Most Efficient. And you’ll find that label on some of our washing machines and LED TVs for those consumers who are really looking for the very best in energy efficiency. And since I mentioned washing machines… John Shegerian: Yeah. John Taylor: I think that it’s important to know, for your listeners, that there is a new category of Energy Star this year for dryers for the first time. This is kind of the new frontier of energy efficiency in the home. It’s the last major appliance that did not have the Energy Star rating. John Shegerian: Really? John Taylor: And LG is leading the charge there too with an amazing new product that we call the Eco-Hybrid Dryer. John Shegerian: What does that mean? John Taylor: It incorporates heat pump technology with a conventional dryer that is more than 50 percent more energy efficient than a conventional electric dryer. John Shegerian: Wow. And our audience members can buy that at any great store in the United States right now? Or is it coming out this year? John Taylor: It’s rolling out this summer nationwide. John Shegerian: This summer nationwide. Talk a little bit about, John – and for our listeners just joining us, we’ve got John Taylor with us. He is the VP of Public Affairs at LGE. Life’s good at LG. You can look them up at www.LGE.com. This is the ISRI edition of Green Is Good. We’re here in beautiful downtown Vancouver at the Vancouver Convention Center. You know, John, we’ve talked about Energy Star and your new ultra energy efficient dryer. Talk a little bit about the resources. How much virgin material has LG conserved and saved because of your efforts in terms of maintaining and managing better the resources that you’re putting into your new products. John Taylor: Well, I don’t have all the numbers at the top of my head. John Shegerian: Sure. John Taylor: But there are hundreds of millions of dollars of resources conserved every year. John Shegerian: Right. John Taylor: And at the same time, we make major investments in this area. One number I do know off the top of my head is six hundred million dollars of research devoted specifically to green products and to greener products and recyclable products. John Shegerian: Wow. Talk a little bit then, John, about packaging. Packaging is important. A lot of companies and a lot of brands are focusing on reducing their packaging to be a greener product. Has LG done that? And what kind of success have you met in terms of trying to reduce your packaging if you’ve done that? John Taylor: It’s been a big focus for us, John, over the last several years. In fact just in the last two years we’ve reduced our packaging by 27 percent. The amount of packaging. And at the same time focused on 50 percent to 80 percent of using recycled paper and corrugated in all of our packaging. John Shegerian: Got it. Any last thoughts or any last words of wisdom for both our listeners and our consumers who want to buy greener products? How do they go and do that? How do you see between a product that is more energy efficient, made out of more recycled materials, or where the resources are being managed, how can you do a compare and contrast when you’re going through a Costco or Staples or Best Buy? Any words of wisdom and solutions for our audience members? John Taylor: Well, it is complicated out there. If you look at a lot of the packaging there it starts to look like NASCAR because you have not just the Energy Star label, which is so well recognized, but many other labels like this Greenguard certification and other things I mentioned. So I guess our advice to consumers is to find a brand that you trust. Hopefully, like LG. We do a lot of consumer research, and for years and years environmental considerations were a top consideration when you were shopping for an appliance but not so much in TVs. It’s been growing. Particularly energy efficiency and the importance of green living is impacting consumers around the world, and we’re seeing more and more interest in this. So, you’ve asked the right question. We urge consumers to do their research. Understand the impact of the environment not just on this product but think of the resources that went in to producing it and what it’s going to take to recycle it in the end. John Shegerian: Got it. And again we congratulate you and we congratulate LGE on winning the Design for Recycling Award from ISRI for 2015. That’s a big award. And we hope you continue to lead the way and, as you said earlier, continue to be a poster child for Design for Recycling for all the other manufacturers to follow suit. We thank you for your time today, John. Again, reporting from the ISRI Convention here in downtown Vancouver. This has been the ISRI edition of Green Is Good. We’ve got John Taylor, the VP of Public Affairs of LG. You can find out more about LG and their great products at www.LGE.com. Find out more about ISRI at www.ISRI.org. Thank you for being with us. Thank you, John Taylor. You are truly living proof that Green Is Good.