Growing impact of consumer electronics

October 30, 2023

From smart watches to televisions to mobile phones, we hardly give a second thought to the complex electronic devices that we use every day. However, without them our way of life would be considerably different.

In this blog, we explore the growth and evolution of consumer electronics, the impact on the supply of materials required to manufacture them, and the responsibility of suppliers and manufacturers to act in a sustainable manner to create the products of the future.

What are consumer electronics?

The term consumer electronics (CE) refers to devices that are bought by end users for personal use. The most recognised examples include products that have been around for some time such as televisions, computers, and mobile phones. Relatively recent innovation have broadened the category to include technologies such as smart home systems, virtual reality (VR)-based beauty devices, and augmented reality (AR) gaming headsets.

Enter artificial intelligence

In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been integrated into CE. 

Examples of these new products include robots programmed to do household chores and home integration systems that ensure a high level of security.1

In the beauty space, consumers can now purchase personalised and ‘me-centric’ products that utilise AI. These products use AI facial recognition technology to help consumers create personalised foundations, lip shades, and customised skincare.2

The industry continues to grow

Technology innovation and the resulting consumer demand is driving growth in the CE space. According to Transparency Market Research’s Consumer Electronics Market Forecast Analysis Report 2031, the global consumer electronics market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5% from 2021 to 2031, with the market share expected to surpass US$1 trillion by the end of 2031.3

Similarly, in the newer consumer electronics space, the AI manufacturing market is projected to reach US$181.2 billion by 2030.4

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the largest in the United States, is an example of the growth in AI-driven technology development. The centre consists of research scientists in various departments including those that focus on producing robotics and computer systems.5

“The global consumer electronics market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5% from 2021 to 2031. ”

– Transparency Market Research. 2022. Consumer Electronics Market Forecast Analysis Report 2031.

Can the planet support this growth?

The materials used to manufacture CE are just as wide and varied as the number of products the industry makes.

A high-end smartphone, for example, contains around 0.034g of gold, 0.34g of silver, and 0.015g of palladium. This is in addition to 0.0001g of platinum, 25g of aluminium, and 15g of copper.6

As the CE industry grows and evolves, there is more pressure to ensure suppliers and manufacturers are sustainably producing and sourcing these materials.

START can help

START facilitates transparent supply chains. We provide transparent information across the supply chain - from mine to market. And, across 14 key criteria which sit under three pillars (planet, people, and progress). Learn more about START's ESG criteria.

This way, START supports a sustainable approach to consumer electronic manufacturing by setting the standard for transparency insights. START helps to trace materials from their origin to enable suppliers and manufacturers to meet consumer demand for transparency while sourcing for materials responsibly.