Making an impact with four principles of sustainability
At RFS, we acknowledge this and are making positive changes within the organization to continue to move towards net-zero targets. In order to achieve this, we have an environmental strategy based on four key principles:
- Green by design
- Built to last
- Sustainable manufacturing
- Smarter logistics
Over the past 5 years, we have worked to make these principles part of the DNA of the organization. The result is that we are able to demonstrate the tangible impact of each principle and how it is helping us and our customers to reduce our carbon impact.
Green by design
Premium performance will always be the number one priority for our products. However, we have a number of solutions across the portfolio that are ‘green by design’ with no performance compromise.
For example, our connectors are and have been for a long time one of the greener solutions on the market due in part to the design. Many connectors have typically used an additional piece of metal to hold the structure needed, which increases the use of raw materials and increases the energy consumed in the assembly processes. Our connectors have for many years been manufactured as a single piece using the minimum raw materials necessary and streamlining manufacturing.
Design for Environment (DfE) is part of the Product Lifecycle Process, with all products undergoing our RFS Product Carbon Footprint Life Cycle Assessment. The R&D teams at RFS are consistently looking at ways to enhance our portfolio from both a performance and environmental point of view.
Built to last
One of the easiest ways to reduce environmental impact over the long term is with equipment that is built to last. If a cable needs to be replaced after 5 years the environmental impact is significantly increased. At RFS, we focus on deployments that truly stand the test of time. Take this as an example; RFS delivered 9” cable at the Wertachtal transmitter site in Bavaria, Germany to support broadcasting for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. From 1972 to 2013 this was the biggest shortwave broadcasting facility in Europe and is still operating 50 years later without performance degradation.
A long product lifespan is a key benefit for our customers from an investment point of view, but also from an environmental perspective. There is a reason our motto is ‘Lifetime Connectivity’.
At RFS we are keen to lead by example, showing how the communications equipment industry, and particularly those involved in manufacturing, can achieve sustainability goals. It is undoubtedly a challenge, as manufacturing accounts for about a third (29.7%) of global greenhouse gas emissions, however, it is possible to significantly reduce environmental impact.
RFS is already complying with ISO14001 Environmental Management standards, but we acknowledge that more needs to be done. We have committed over the past few years to monitoring both our manufacturing and other site environments to identify areas for improvement and are now using this data to drive positive change.
RFS PLC includes product emissions reduction targets. We have also looked up the supply chain to consider the emissions from the production of the raw materials that go into our products and key suppliers. Across the site, purchased energy is monitored and reduction targets set. We have made significant changes including new energy-efficient air compressors and new energy-efficient chillers for office and factory air-conditioning. We have changed equipment to minimize wastage, recycle rainwater for cooling, and have swapped traditional factory lighting for energy-efficient alternatives. These are just some of the examples of how we at RFS are minimizing our environmental impact through sustainable manufacturing.
Delivering the final products to our customers is an area where there is potential to refine processes to reduce the overall carbon impact. An example of this is the packaging of our CELLFLEX solution. We have reduced the number of cable drum variants and looked to optimize our product packaging to minimize unnecessary carbon impact i.e. the flexibility of CELLFLEX allows it to be wound onto drums with a narrow diameter. Additionally, we have optimized the layout of the cable factory, warehouse, and drum storage area to result in less internal transportation between areas and maximize carbon efficiency here. As we export we also have an initiative to move towards Full Container Load (FCL) shipments rather than Less than Container Load (LCL) shipments. This detail allows for the most compact and efficient shipping, lowering the overall logistics cost which reduces CAPEX, OPEX, and in turn TCO for the customer, as well as the environmental cost of delivery.
Beyond processes, we have worked to develop further initiatives to ensure sustainability runs through the organization at every level. Our people-driven initiatives, for example, RFS’s ‘Destroy Dark Data’ initiative runs across all company functions, aiming to remove dark data in line with data protection regulation and reduce the environmental impact of storing unused data. We’ve also encouraged employees to rethink commuting habits and reduced travel to in turn reduce the carbon impact.
We’re proud that sustainability runs through virtually every aspect of life at RFS, but by working to four key principles, we can ensure that we are making measurable and effective changes within the organization. The ticking clock on carbon emissions is a stark reminder that there isn’t time for greenwashing by businesses. Sustainability initiatives need to be tangible and work hard to reduce carbon emissions as now it is more vital than ever to translate climate change commitments from documents to actions.