Can Digital Shelf Edge help retailers be more sustainable?

May 5, 2021
Lauren Mudie

As technology has advanced and becomes more cost-effective, many shops have turned away from traditional ticketing in promotional areas and are introducing Digital Shelf Edge (DSE) into their retail spaces. DSE offers retailers several benefits, allowing them to advertise at the point of sale and have greater flexibility around store pricing through electronic ticketing. We recently wrote an article discussing these advantages in greater detail here. However, we wanted to focus on one key area that is often overlooked: Digital Shelf Edge’s environmental benefits.

Retailers and customers alike are prioritising sustainability and considering the environmental impact of their shopping habits. A 2018 research report noted that customers expect to see businesses taking steps to be more sustainable, stating that ’73 % gravitate to companies that prove they care about the environment.’[1] It may initially sound counter-intuitive to retailers that DSE, which consumes power, could be more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. However, due to significant technological advancement in screens’ energy consumption, DSE can offer retailers several potential environmental benefits.

1. Reduced Paper Waste

DSE removes the need to mass print and update price tags, not only saving costs but sparing the paper waste and pollution caused by mass printing. DSE easily integrates with existing EPOS databases ensuring that prices are consistent throughout the store, and any errors are easily corrected without the need to reprint or waste paper. Eliminating printing from the pricing process also removes the pollution caused by printer ink or toner. The life cycle assessment of toner notes that the ‘GHG emission are in the region of 16 metric tons per 1 metric ton of toner produced.’[2] To put this into context, that is the same amount of CO2 as 2.7 homes produce in electricity for a whole year or the equivalent of 3.5 average vehicles driven for one year.

2. Prevent Waste of Perishable Goods

The flexibility that electronic ticketing can provide allows retailers to make unlimited price changes in real-time throughout the day. Perishable items close to their use-by date can be put on offer quickly to encourage customers to buy the goods and minimise the waste. ‘Every year, 100,000 tonnes of readily available and edible food from the UK’s retail and food manufacturing sector is wasted – equivalent to 250 million meals going uneaten.’[3] DSE could help to reduce this by speeding up the laborious process of manually updating prices.

3. Help to Lower a Store's Carbon Footprint

A 2018 Microsoft article noted that DSE might help stores to reduce their carbon footprint by decreasing the need for high polluting fluorescent lights turned up full. The article noted that ‘the main reason for having big lights in stores is because you’ve got to light it up to read paper tags.’[4] Replacing these paper tags with LED-backlit Digital Shelf Edge means these fluorescent lights can be dimmed. While the more environmentally friendly backlit LED will ensure customers can still clearly read price tags.

4. Recyclable Long-life Screens

LCD screens have long lives, and when they do eventually end, they can be recycled and repurposed. ‘Almost 98% of an LCD screen can be recycled’ [5], and more advancements are currently underway to ensure that the final 2% can also be recycled.

It is easy to see why DSE has been rising in popularity, giving retailers increased flexibility and exciting new promotional opportunities while also providing environmental advantages. These benefits aren’t limited to DSE either; various screens at the shelf can perform similar functions. If you wanted to discuss anything DSE related or shelf screen related, get in touch.

[1]Ltd, D., 2021. Displaydata Planet Retail Research Report Available at: [Accessed 10 February 2021].

[2]Energy Central. 2021. Ink Waste: The Environmental Impact of Printer Cartridges. Available at: [Accessed 9 March 2021].

[3]The Grocer. 2021. Why there can be no more excuses for supermarket food waste. Available at:,landfill%2C%20with%20devastating%20environmental%20consequences. [Accessed 9 March 2021].

[4]Transform. 2021. Kroger’s smart shelves ditch the paper, drop the lights and delight the shoppers. Available at: [Accessed 9 March 2021].

[5]General Digital | Engineering What’s Next. 2021. What You Need to Know about Recycling LCD Monitors & Displays. Available at: [Accessed 9 March 2021].

You May Also Like…