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All things considered

All things considered

All things considered

PPDS discusses the manufacturer’s eco credentials and forward-thinking approach to digital signage sustainability

Research shows that there is typically a negative correlation between the importance of sustainability and the average premium consumers are willing to pay. In categories that have the highest importance for sustainability in a consumer’s daily life – electricity, heating, groceries and transportation – this premium is roughly between 22% and 27% of less sustainable options. But with potential alarm bells sounding over the health of the global economy at a time when sustainability in AV had just become a serious topic, is all that good work about to be undone? PPDS (Philips Professional Displays) doesn’t think so. 

Tableaux providing digital signage at a supermarket
Tableaux providing digital signage at a supermarket

Sustainability has been on the agenda for PPDS for many years and, at the end of 2021, the display manufacturer placed it as a top business priority, actively seeking to help customers reduce their electronic waste and enhance their green credentials. This initiative includes more energy-efficient products, a reconfiguring and reduction of packaging and a move to provide greater access to information on energy consumption to aid more informed buying decisions. It’s resulted in PPDS being lauded with several sustainability awards as the company strives to bring the topic to the forefront of the industry. “We certainly are doing a lot,” says Stefan van Sabben, global CSR and sustainability manager at TP Vision and MMD, the parent companies behind PPDS. “And I’m very pleased to see it being recognised. It is a topic that has taken on increased interest with customers in recent years – in fact, we’ve reached a point where customers are actively demanding that manufacturers are more environmentally mindful.” An obvious example of this movement within PPDS is Tableaux, the company’s new Kindle-style solution for low-energy digital signage first unveiled at ISE earlier this year. The use of ePaper technology means power is only required when changing out the static image, making it not only vastly more efficient than a typical screen for many signage uses, but also creating new options for where and how digital signage can be deployed.

 Stefan van Sabben
Stefan van Sabben

As van Sabben previuosly alluded, while PPDS has long had an interest in being more sustainable, the post-pandemic mindset from customers has elevated this conversation, making it all the more important for companies to back up their principles with more than just words. Product certification is vital but that does little to explain nuance and allow customers to make truly informed decisions.   

“We certainly want to avoid greenwashing and so we think it’s important to explain in detail precisely what we are doing instead of simply applying X credential to a product. As an example, our  7000 Series LED display is near climate neutral. What does that actually entail? We begin with a lifecycle assessment to gauge how many CO2 emissions are involved to create the product, with all the assembly lines taken into account. Then we create a reduction plan together with an external party as a verified auditor. From that moment onwards, you can offset by, for example, planting trees or supporting forest growth.”   

Vicky Fox
Vicky Fox

“Lifecycle assessments are key for us in being able to really evaluate our products,” adds global head of communications Vicky Fox, “and, as Stefan says, they’re a massive undertaking because they take in every aspect, right through their journey. Of course, it’s also important that our roadmap carefully considers the ongoing sustainability picture for each product. In that respect the lifecycle assessment is just a part of the story, and there could be nothing worse than customers feeling a need to scrap existing working displays that are still serving their purpose but don’t match new sustainability expectations.”

This means that often the best approach for the customer is not to invest in new products, instead extending existing displays’ lifespans. “Beyond our own motivation, we have new legislation being introduced supporting initiatives such as eco design and the right to repair, that is not directly linked to a hotel TV or signage display, yet in the bigger picture is relevant,” notes van Sabben. “So, as well as supporting the extension of our products’ lifetimes via the free software updates, for products like Philips MediaSuite and the energy management and predictive maintenance available via our Wave remote display management platform, we also discuss options such as take-back schemes with clients. We take back the product – offering the customer a financial reward as well – and give it a second life in another country or market where it can still serve a purpose.”

This approach provides the benefit of an additional cost saving for customers. Despite best intentions and morality, the overriding buying factor for many remains price. Even if they desire a more sustainable solution, are they willing to pay for it? The forward-thinking approach from PPDS is also paying dividends in this regard.  

Beyond purely economic forces, the reduction in willingness to pay for sustainability stems from a wider availability of alternatives. As businesses in a market introduce more options, competition is heightened. Consumers get more variety, and sustainability evolves to become the norm rather than the exception, reducing the green premium. Businesses that benefit from first-mover advantages experience monetisation potential that erodes over time as sustainability becomes the expectation.  

Arguably, that first-mover advantage period has already passed in many AV sectors and PPDS is no longer alone as an enterprise manufacturer focusing on its green credentials. The question for manufacturers therefore becomes, can your business afford to no longer take the topic seriously?  

“Keeping ourselves at the forefront of this conversation is crucial and is why we take such a proactive approach,” concludes van Sabben. “We showcased Tableaux to our customers back in November last year but didn’t actually release it until February. Having that really great feedback relationship with our integrators makes sure we are manufacturing products that are needed, rather than just ticking a box.”

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