'Green' a Major Buzz Word at the Consumer Electronics Show

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Earth911 took a trip to Las Vegas for the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show this past weekend, and we definitely got to see some pretty cool stuff. But one standout trend was sustainable attributes many retailers were working to incorporate into the thousands of products on display.

The Consumer Electronics Association made green a priority this year, devoting an entire section of the Las Vegas Concention Center’s North Hall to startup companies in the industry. From solar energy to longer-lasting, nontoxic batteries, the Sustainable Planet spotlight section was where Earth911 spent a good chuck of its time.

Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

UltraLast's products are completely recyclable - from the batteries to the packaging. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

While we saw some great ideas, two companies really grabbed our attention and held it (a huge feat considering that the gaming section was just one row over).

The battery bar has been set

We found a rechargeable battery that actually holds up to environmental standards. We spoke with James L. Helms, marketing manager for UltraLast, an innovative company that is making waves in total lifecycle development of a more eco-friendly battery.

UltraLast stands out because it has a full line of rechargeable batteries, from everyday usage that can be charged more than 500 times, to high-powered batteries that have a bit more “umph” for your bigger electronics.

But Helms was most excited about the company’s new 1.6-volt nickel-zinc battery, which is entirely recyclable. It’s long-lasting charge is perfect for digital cameras and other power-sucking electronics. According to Helms, it’s a great replacement for lithium batteries.

UltraLast’s efforts don’t stop at its batteries – the packaging is completely made from paper materials, making recycling a breeze.

Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Made of 100 percent recycled PET bottles, Miniwiz's POLLI-Brick wall is available for purchase on its Web site. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

For many consumers, batteries are a recycling mystery because there are so many types and disposal depends on material. Batteries are considered to be hazardous waste, and some states, like California, require that all batteries be recycled or taken to a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection facility.

Solar power on a whole new level

The solar-powered bike (and the circle of onlookers) was the first thing that caught our eye at the Miniwiz booth.

But after looking around, we saw products that took sustainability to a whole new level. An energy development and portable power engineering company, even Miniwiz’s display was built from recycled water bottles.

Integrated with solar-powered LED lighting, the POLLI-Brick structure was made from 100 percent recycled PET bottles made into Lego-like blocks, providing lightweight, translucent architecture with a modern and customizable design – a perfect stage for the company’s avant-garde products.

Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

Huang shows off Miniwiz's solar-powered water filter, which is not yet available to the public. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

“Our green custom-made electronics were made to educate future consumers about a total lifecycle products that emit low carbon from the very beginning to the end,” said Founder and Managing Director Arthur Huang.

“Everything we use is made from recycled materials, from the packaging all the way to the housing components. While the product is important, it has to reduce its own power by reducing its carbon footprint.”

We also dug the portable wind and solar chargers that have a high storage level of up to 1,200mAH of power, enough to charge your common 5-volt devices, such as cell phones and iPods.

But Miniwiz’s coolest product, by far, was its solar-powered LED lamp that could eventually be used to filter water.