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Panasonic, Samsung Unveil Latest Sustainability Innovations at CES 2023

The electronics giants announced a series of innovations including personal-care device recycling, smart home energy-efficiency improvements, and a new laundry cycle and filter designed to eliminate microplastic pollution from synthetic materials.

Panasonic launches recycling program for personal-care devices

Image credit: Panasonic

On Wednesday, at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Panasonic announced its new Take Back for Tomorrow program to promote recycling of electronic personal care devices such as shavers and trimmers, which represent a huge opportunity to recycle components that would otherwise end up in landfills.

Today, over 88 million US consumers use an electric shaver or trimmer. Due to a lack of adequate recycling infrastructure, most of these devices are destined for landfills — wasting an opportunity to recycle the batteries, metals and other still viable materials inside. Panasonic's program aims to start diverting this e-waste to an important input stream for a more circular supply chain — and pay consumers to do it.

To participate, owners of electric or battery shavers or trimmers sign up at Panasonic covers the costs for shipping the end-of-life product with partner ERI by generating a pre-paid label for consumers to easily pack and ship the device for recycling.

Panasonic's goal with this program is to advance circularity within its US supply chain, where components from its consumer electronics — starting with personal care devices — are recycled by ERI. All lithium-ion batteries in these devices are sent to Redwood Materials — a company creating a closed-loop, domestic supply chain for lithium-ion batteries across collection, refurbishment, recycling, refining and remanufacturing of sustainable battery materials — which will then recycle and remanufacture metals into anode and cathode components for Panasonic's electric vehicle (EV) batteries. The companies recently announced that recycled cathode active materials from Redwood will be used in lithium-ion batteries to be manufactured at Panasonic's new EV battery facility under construction in De Soto, Kansas, starting in 2025.

ERI's nationwide footprint helps reduce shipping and make the program more carbon efficient. The companies are joined by MRM — which will help manage the overall program, including recycling coordination and recycler auditing, to ensure it contributes to the companies' shared sustainability goals.

"We are proud to partner with ERI, Redwood Materials and MRM on this pilot program to help save personal care products from landfills." said Walter Taffarello, Director of Appliance and Beauty Merchandise at Panasonic. "Disassembly and then recycling or reusing all the parts of end-of-life products is essential to protecting natural resources. Together, we can work toward a more sustainable, circular future where nothing is wasted, but rather repurposed for another use."

Individuals who participate and send in an eligible device will receive 30 percent off the purchase of a new Panasonic MultiShape device.

The modular MultiShape personal grooming device itself is an example of the company's commitment to sustainability, and an example of its Panasonic GREEN IMPACT initiative coming to life in its product design. Panasonic MultiShape is the first integrated grooming system on the market. Its modular design is centered around a "base unit" handle containing the battery and motor that powers an array of interchangeable attachments — including a variety of trimmer, shaver and toothbrush options. A single MultiShape can replace multiple independent electronic devices, representing a more sustainable choice compared to using several electronic devices – giving people the chance to eliminate duplication of motors, rechargeable batteries, and power adaptors.

Samsung delivers next-gen home energy-efficiency solutions, laundry cycle that eliminates microplastic pollution

Image credit: Samsung

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, Samsung Electronics unveiled an array of consumer home innovations designed to bring about a new era of sustainable living.

“The technologies we’re unveiling at CES 2023 place sustainability at the core of the user experience,” said Moohyung Lee, EVP and Head of the R&D Team of the Digital Appliances Business at Samsung. “Our ambition is to become the most energy-efficient appliance brand globally; and our latest products and partnerships will help make sustainable living a reality for more people and more communities.”

SmartThings maximizes energy savings

With an estimated 80 million connected devices, Samsung’s SmartThings platform continues to expand while unlocking more ways for users to reduce their carbon footprint at home. Samsung announced that SmartThings Energy’s AI Energy Mode now offers users up to 15 percent more savings for compatible refrigerators, up to 20 percent for compatible air conditioners, and up to 35 percent for compatible washers on select cycles.

The company’s efforts to enrich and expand SmartThings Energy have led the US EPA to award Samsung the industry’s first mass-market Smart Home Energy Management Systems (SHEMS) certification, which recognizes smart home appliances and services that manage and automate connected devices to give consumers insights into their energy use — inspiring energy-saving behavior, reducing costs and helping to facilitate demand response measures that minimize stress on the grid. The EPA has also awarded base model Samsung home appliances 260 Energy Star® certifications, including 43 “Most Efficient” recognitions.

Net-zero homes closer to reality

To enable more people to enjoy energy independence at home, Samsung also unveiled the next phase of its net-zero home initiative: the Smart City Project. Working with Sterling Ranch and its long-time technology partner Siemens, the Smart City Project will help establish Sterling Ranch as a master-planned sustainable housing community designed to house 30,000 residents in Littleton, Colorado.

SmartThings Energy will serve as the residents’ primary interactive app to monitor data, with Samsung appliances offering residents real-time insights on their energy, water and natural gas use. Throughout the community, solar panels and household batteries will produce and store energy, while energy-efficient appliances reduce power and monitor water use to save resources.

‘Less Microfiber’ technology reduces microplastics in laundry

While reducing the impact of devices and homes is vital to creating a sustainable future, other clear and present risks to the environment demand our attention. For over a year, Samsung and Patagonia have been collaborating to address the challenge of microplastics shedding during the laundry process and polluting oceans and other bodies of water — the result: Samsung’s new Less Microfiber Cycle and Filter.

A breakthrough in the fight against microplastics — which are shed when synthetic fabrics such as fleece and polyester are washed — Samsung says the Less Microfiber Cycle cuts microplastic emissions by up to 54 percent.^[1]^ Now available in Europe, the cycle will roll out to compatible washers in Korea from February this year and in the US soon.

Along with the Less Microfiber Cycle, Samsung and Patagonia’s Less Microfiber Filter prevents microplastic particles from escaping into the ocean at the end of wash cycles. It will be available in select Samsung washing machines in Europe beginning in the second half of 2023; it will also be available for purchase separately and applied to any washer on the market, regardless of brand.