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“Consumer tech isn’t sustainable” – Bang and Olufsen

Premium audio firm Bang and Olufsen has announced plans to become a global leader in sustainable product development, claiming the “consumer tech industry is not sustainable” in its current state.

Bang and Olufsen Senior Global Product Manager for Classics and Product Circularity, Mads Kogsgaard Hansen made the claim at a press briefing attended by Trusted Reviews.

“The consumer tech industry is not long-term sustainable. The tools and parts being used aren’t and there’s lots of waste. This is a huge problem. We want to reverse that trend. There are other ways to create these products” he said.

Hansen’s comments came just after he revealed the firm’s Beosound Level wireless speaker had become the “first consumer speaker” to receive the Cradle to Cradle Bronze sustainability accreditation.

This is an accreditation run by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute designed to help companies produce environmentally friendly products. It factors everything from the components and materials used to the supply chain’s carbon footprint.

The move saw the firm use a modular design for the Level that, according to B&O, makes it easy to upgrade or replace broken parts and recycle. It adds to the firm’s previous commitment to only use FSC certified wood – a certification designed to ensure all wood used is sustainably sourced.

Hansen said the firm chose to partner with the institute as part of a wider strategy to establish B&O as a “global sustainability leader” in the consumer technology industry.

“[With] Cradle to Cradle we want to take a step ahead and show [there is another] way. The Cradle to Cradle principle and decision to go in this direction was informed by heart and brain. The principles just feel right. It overlaps with who we are today and who we want to be in the future,” he said.

Hansen added the decision was made for fiscal as well as ethical concerns, with consumers increasingly caring about the environmental impact of the products they buy.

“But it’s not just about feeling good, it’s a business decision to help us stay future fit and continue to be relevant to future audiences,” he said.

The move will reportedly see Bang & Olufsen work to further improve its products sustainability using the various Cradle to Cradle standards.

“Credibility is at the heart of what we do here […] making sure we’re audited by a third party expert let’s us show and [buyers] know we’re getting the impact we intend. We also want to communicate our progress and road toward innovating. We need to do that in a credible way, we don’t want to wait until we’re perfect, we’re not there yet. We want to do it step by step to show our journey,” he said.

“This will not be the only certified speaker, we’re looking at how we can integrate these principles into other speakers, to do more of this. We can’t do it all at once, we want to start and work in a structured way. It’s about a longer term innovation opportunity. We want to use these principles for innovation management. We believe as long as we can improve we’re not done. With this framework there is a very specific path for us to follow”.

There are currently multiple Cradle to Cradle design standards, starting with Bronze and rising to Platinum. The institute running the system claims no product has successfully achieved the top Platinum standard.

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute VP Strategy & Development Christina Raab told Trusted Reviews the firm would need to take several steps more if it wanted any of its products to achieve the silver standard, but added Bang and Olufsen is still ahead of “most tech firms”.

“All categories [in the certification standard] would have to improve. [It would need to] further improve the use of safer alternatives – it would have to look at using more recycled materials, it would need to be made using more renewable energy in the supply chain. [It would require] going further into the supply chain and other stakeholders [practices],” she said.

When asked what categories the firm was planning to design to meet Cradle to Cradle standards Hansen was hazy with specific details, simply stating: “We are looking into how we can translate this way of thinking into smaller products.”

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