This fall, our family got Telus TV.
The promo deal sucked us in, our friendly installer managed to figure out how to wire both ends of a 1920’s apartment without stapling cable everywhere and now we can vegetate digitally. (Of course, the first thing I did with this marvel of new technology was use the PVR to record a Space Channel marathon of 30-year-old Star Trek episodes.)

But even as the system was being assembled in our home, I wondered about its footprint. In order to decode and deliver the signals for digital TV and broadband Internet, we took delivery of: two set top boxes, a PVR, a wireless router, a network router and a switcher.

I wondered, how much power do they use? Are all the electronics compliant with RoHS? (the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive or RoHS  adopted in 2003 by the EU that restricts the use of hazardous materials in electronics) What happens to these units when they needs to be replaced? And what happens to the leftover boxes, plastic and styrofoam after installation?

As I found out from their most recent CSR Report, Telus does recycle e-waste – more than 500 metric tonnes in 2008. They also re-use a lot of equipment, donating over 8,000 computers through the Computers for Schools program. And with an ongoing relationship with Tree Canada, they also pledged to plant a tree for every piece of wireless equipment recycled, and exceeded their goals, starting over 170,000 seedlings. All good green info which a lot of TV customers would probably like to hear.

But with their distribution of digital TV gear, there is a supply chain opportunity as well.

Several years ago, Wal-Mart single-handedly changed the detergent business when they refused to stock anything other than concentrated formula. And though not on the same planetary scale, I imagine Telus must be a large consumer of routers, switchers and the like. Could they ask for stronger standards? Work with suppliers like SMC and Scientific Atlanta to improve packaging and recyclability? After all, the Telus logo is on this equipment, too.

But they don’t have to go to such lengths to make a visible and real difference.  There is one simple piece of equipment Telus could add to the TV installation process that would save energy, and be a real demonstration of their ‘Future Friendly’ positioning.

And it would only cost about 5 bucks to make the future just a little friendlier.


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