Paving the way to Sustainability with ZetaDisplay CMO, Robert Bryhn

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, sustainability has become a pivotal focus for companies striving to make a positive impact on the environment. At ZetaDisplay, we recognize the importance of integrating sustainable practices into our operations and offerings. As a leading provider of digital communication solutions, our commitment to sustainability is reflected in every aspect of our business—from proprietary software development to the installation and operational support of screens and hardware.

Our clientele across Europe and the globe, relies on our solutions to communicate effectively with their consumers and employees in various public environments. With over 240 employees spread across eight countries and more than 120,000 active installations in over 50 markets, we understand the significant environmental footprint associated with the lifecycle of digital signage hardware.

With the release of our annual report, we’ve taken a comprehensive look at our sustainability achievements over the past year and outlined our vision for the future. We sat down with our Commercial Marketing Officer Robert Bryhn, who delves into our sustainability goals, highlighting why they are essential to our company’s mission and the broader digital signage industry.

Robert, can you start by explaining ZetaDisplay’s commitment to sustainability and the UN Global Compact?

Absolutely. ZetaDisplay is fully committed to the UN Global Compact and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals cover a wide range of areas, including environmental protection, anti-corruption, and human rights. We focus our efforts on specific goals and track our contributions to these SDGs through our sustainability framework. Our approach is organised into three core areas: environment and climate, sustainable business and business ethics, and employee welfare. This structure helps us systematically follow up and report on our progress, which is an audited part of our annual report.

The environmental footprint of digital signage screens is identified as a major sustainability challenge. Could you elaborate on the specific impacts during the hardware lifecycle phases, such as pre-manufacturing, manufacturing, and end-of-life?

Certainly. The environmental footprint of digital signage screens spans several phases:

  • Pre-Manufacturing: This involves the extraction and processing of minerals, which result in significant carbon emissions and resource consumption.
  • Manufacturing: The production process is energy-intensive, consuming large amounts of resources.
  • Transportation and distribution: Shipping hardware from factories and truck distribution to various locations also contributes to carbon emissions.
  • Operations: The energy consumption of the screens during their use is a significant factor in their overall carbon footprint.
  • Service and maintenance: Physical visits by service staff for installation and maintenance add to the carbon emissions due to transportation needs.
  • End-of-Life: Disposal, recycling, or repair of screens at the end of their life cycle impacts the environment. Efficient recycling and prolonging the lifespan of the screens can mitigate some of these effects.

How does ZetaDisplay address these environmental challenges through its sustainability initiatives?

We have several initiatives aimed at reducing our environmental impact. For example, switching from older LCD screens to more energy-efficient LED designs can save a whopping 75-80% of energy. This significantly lowers the environmental footprint during the screens’ operational phase.

Our software uses energy-saving modes such as integrated automatic shutdown features and optimizations based on screen location and content, which reduces energy consumption and extends the life of the screens.

We have brought in smart sensors, which activate the screen only when needed, further reducing energy usage. Some installations also reduce brightness in standby mode, conserving energy until someone is nearby.

We talk a lot about prolonged End of Life (EoL) at Zeta, which essentially means extending the life of screens beyond the average five years. We offer leasing options and integrated media players to reduce hardware production and encourage longer use.

Could you highlight the importance of lifecycle management and recycling in digital signage?

Lifecycle management and recycling are crucial in minimizing the environmental impact of digital signage. By managing the entire lifecycle of our products, from production to end-of-life, we can ensure that we are using resources efficiently and reducing waste. Utilizing recycling programmes and designing for longer product life decreases the need for new materials and lowers the overall carbon footprint. Our focus on these aspects is part of our broader commitment to sustainability and aligns with our goal of driving the industry towards greener practices.

What are some specific sustainability initiatives ZetaDisplay is exploring to further reduce its carbon footprint?

Well, we are constantly seeking new ways to enhance our sustainability efforts. For example, we use fully recycled external players, incorporating components made from recycled materials. Additionally, we have been investing more in carbon offset projects to mitigate the emissions generated by our operations and employee activities. We want to focus on implementing greener initiatives to minimize everyday emissions and promote sustainability throughout the organisation, not just with our clients.

We have recently been recognized by Invidis as one of the key global players in the Nordics working towards our sustainability certification, along with Umdasch (EcoVadis), First Impression (B-Corp) and M-Cube. It’s so important for those working within the signage industry to step up and recognize how we can all work together to contribute to a greener planet.

How does ZetaDisplay ensure that sustainability is a company-wide effort?

We have a cross-departmental team responsible for sustainability, including compliance and environmental policy. This team includes members from respective finance, product, marketing, IT, HR, and legal departments. By involving various parts of the organization, we ensure that sustainability is integrated into all aspects of our business.

What competitive advantages does focusing on sustainability bring to ZetaDisplay?

Emphasizing sustainability not only helps us meet regulatory requirements and customer expectations but also positions us as a leader in the industry. Customers, especially in sectors like healthcare and transportation, are increasingly looking for partners with strong sustainability credentials. By optimizing energy efficiency and adopting LED technology, we provide solutions that not only reduce environmental impact but also offer cost savings to our clients. This focus on sustainability strengthens our brand and competitive edge in the market.

What are your thoughts on the term Green Signage?

When it comes to Green Signage, it’s vital to address the buzzword status it currently holds. While the term is widely used, its application often falls short of true environmental friendliness. In reality, authentic green signage encompasses solutions that significantly reduce energy consumption during both production and operation, thereby minimizing environmental impact. This entails not just considering the immediate production process but also evaluating ongoing energy use. It’s essential to scrutinize solutions that demonstrate tangible reductions in both environmental and energy footprints. Despite the widespread use of the term, achieving fully carbon-neutral green signage remains elusive. However, technologies like E Ink offer a promising step in the right direction. E Ink stands out as one of the closest approximations to green signage, as it maintains image display even when inactive, showcasing a commitment to energy efficiency even when not in use.

Looking Ahead

How does ZetaDisplay plan to continue leading the industry in sustainable practices over the next five to ten years?

Firstly, we are actively tracking our carbon emissions to identify areas where we can reduce our environmental impact. We plan to explore the possibility of offsetting our emissions by purchasing carbon credits, aligning with EU initiatives in this area. On the hardware side, we are evaluating fully recycled external players as a potential solution to further minimize our environmental footprint. These concrete steps demonstrate our ongoing dedication to sustainability and our goal of leading the industry in environmentally responsible practices.

As we move forward, it’s crucial for us all to remember that sustainability is everyone’s responsibility. From considering the carbon footprint of our business-related travel to advising and supplying customers with longer-lasting, energy-efficient solutions, we’re committed to making a difference. Whether it’s transitioning to LED technology or exploring alternatives like E Ink, we must all be mindful of our impact on the environment. Together, let’s continue to prioritize sustainability in all areas of our work and make a positive impact on our planet for generations to come!

Read the ZetaDisplay Sustainability Report. You can download a copy here.