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Sounding out on Sustainability at Audio Collaborative 2022

Our planet needs us. A growing awareness of the soon-coming dangers of climate change has launched an urgent global focus on sustainability. It is estimated that the annual amount of E-waste (electronic waste) will exceed 74 million tonnes in 2030, according to 2020’s Global E-Waste Monitor. E-waste is a major environmental issue, and it’s time for the audio tech industry to step up to help solve this problem.  

What does Sustainability for Audio Tech Mean?

Creating a sustainable landscape for audio tech is no different to our wider understanding of what it means to be sustainable. It will involve the conservation of resources, producing minimal environmental impact, and reducing waste as much as possible. 

At Audio Collaborative 2022, Futuresource Consulting’s annual industry event, we will be sounding out on sustainability in the audio tech sphere. Taking place in London on the 10th November at the Ham Yard Hotel, our team of expert analysts plus a host of industry leaders will be instigating crucial discussions about sustainability and what that looks like in the audio tech industry. 

In the production-focused world of industry, sustainability can be a tricky concept to reckon with. But with a renewed national and global focus on a greener future, consumers appear genuinely committed to changing their habits to cater to sustainability. So, let’s take a closer look at what the current market picture is for sustainability in audio tech. 

What’s the Current Picture for Sustainability in Audio Tech? 

From packaging and production processes to life-cycle management, many companies are working to reduce their environmental impact.  

In the world of audio tech, this is taking many forms. A focus on upgradeable products is being adopted by some big names in audio tech. The idea of an upgradeable product is simple: parts of a product – for example, the battery – can be replaced or swapped out to increase its lifespan. 

One example is B&O’s ‘Level’ speaker. Advertised as being ‘crafted for longevity’, the speaker is made using modular materials and contains replaceable parts. Moves like these shuffles the cards by encouraging consumers to utilise the products they already have – a win for the consumer, and a win for the planet. 

What do Consumers have to say? 

There’s certainly a market for sustainable products. 63% of audio hardware owners said they would be interested in buying products that can be easily upgraded/repaired over time to extend their life cycle. That’s according to Audio Tech Lifestyles, a survey which interviewed 10,000 audio hardware owners across the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and China.  

Adopting greener practices is a choice that many are consciously making – and this is reflected in consumer attitudes. We can hope that the rest will be at the very least indifferent to products containing environmentally friendly features. 

Although consumers are eager to buy durable products, they were less open to experimenting with sustainable business models. Only 40% of consumers said they were interested in leasing audio products, as per the Audio Tech Lifestyles survey. With Sonos quietly launching its own rental service, it appears there’s some things consumers won’t compromise on, even when it comes to big names. 

What more can be done?

There’s always more work to be done regarding sustainability – and this rings true for the audio tech sphere. Some are small scale, and some will require a greater degree of strategizing and thinking: 

  • The implementation of sustainable features at lower-price points would be a positive first step. While the ‘Level’ speaker certainly boasts an impressive suite of eco-first elements, pricewise, it’s out of reach for the average consumer. 
  • Having replaceable batteries as standard practice. The battery is often the component of audio products that reduce their life cycle, so changing this would represent an important shift towards sustainability. 
  • Changing consumer attitudes towards certain practices. If the value of leasing a pair of headphones was demonstrated, for example, it could become a viable business model for audio tech companies. 
  • Finally, addressing the issue of returns. The return of products due to lightly damaged packaging is creating a glut of waste within the industry. Managing these returns will be a critical part in making audio tech more environmentally friendly – and bringing down that staggering statistic from the Global E-Waste Monitor. 
Join the Conversation

It doesn’t end here. At Audio Collaborative 2022, we’ll be deep-diving into audio tech sustainability, bringing in some key industry speakers to give their insight into what more could be done to create an environment-first industry.  

To join in the conversation and find out first-hand what a green future for audio tech might look like, book your place at Audio Collaborative 2022 today. Places are limited, so secure your ticket now and we’ll see you on 10th November! 

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About the author

Olivia Lowden

Audio Collaborative 2022 returns to London!

10th November | Ham Yard Hotel, London

Join us for Audio Collaborative 2022, where we will explore the evolution of audio and embrace the creativity, strategy and development of technology across the entire space.​ Audio Collaborative brings together delegates from some of the leading companies in the industry, providing sponsors with the opportunity to showcase their brand and products in the presence of an influential audience. 

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