Southwire 2021 Sustainability Report: Materials, Recycling & Circular Economy

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Southwire 2021 Sustainability Report

APPROACH

At Southwire, we recognize the advantages of materials management and a lower environmental footprint for company success. As a materials-intensive business, significant opportunities exist to minimize the resources we consume, reduce the waste and scrap we generate, recycle valuable materials to preserve critical resources, keep costs down and effectively manage our waste-related risks.

To help lower our footprint, we seek to incorporate sustainable characteristics that include recycled materials into our product design, manufacturing and packaging operations. In addition, we focus on increasing our recycling efforts and expanding material reuse strategies at the end-of-life in line with circular economy principles. As circular economy strategies become increasingly important, Southwire’s efforts help minimize our raw material consumption, reduce carbon emissions across the value chain, limit resource shortages due to finite natural resources supply and reduce the end-of-life impact of products and packaging downstream. Together, these strategies help us contribute to broader circular solutions that include breakthroughs within our value chain.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Southwire strives to continuously improve the value and responsibility of our products while also balancing stringent industry, customer, and regulatory performance requirements, as well as material and safety standards that pose obstacles preventing the use of many alternative and recycled content inputs. To address barriers, we continue to explore input and waste reduction opportunities that help us manufacture safer, efficient and more sustainable products.

Product responsibility drives our operations, and we aim to:

  • Utilize recycled materials and minimize unnecessary content and packaging
  • Minimize or eliminate inputs with negative environmental and health impacts
  • Reuse materials at the end of a product’s useful life

Our purchasing and other policies guide our materials management and help us limit the use of production inputs that have environmental regulatory concerns.

As part of our purchasing policy, our Material Request Instructions detail what employees must do to receive approval for a new material; this includes submitting a Safety Data Sheet for review and approval by facility safety and environmental coordinators. Beyond these guidelines, we continue to reduce the impact of our products by encouraging employees to find safer and more environmentally friendly input alternatives.

As a redefined material topic in 2021 now including circular economy, topic governance has not been formalized. However, Sustainability responsibility resides with our EVP, General Counsel and Chief Sustainability Officer.

As we grow, diversify and expand our business into services such as the repair and refurbishment of wire and cable, we are able to support the circular economy and our broader financial and environmental sustainability goals.

One area where we reduce our resource and material consumption impacts is packaging. Our wire and cable packaging team frequently includes Southwire’s five core sustainability tenets in the design and improvement of our products. In addition, the packaging group seeks to increase recyclability while discovering methods to save money and generate suggestions for sustainability initiatives and new product ideas. For example, the packaging staff currently works to use paper rather than plastic to wrap coils where possible. The team has also teamed up with a local recycling partner to transform over three million pounds of scrap insulating compound into raw materials for repurposed products. We are also looking for more opportunities to collaborate with customers to promote increased packaging recycling at the jobsite.

Our TCAS team also develops and assesses product and packaging designs to reduce costs and waste while increasing recyclability and reuse. One way they support recyclability and reuse is by participating in North American Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs helping to identify circular economy issues that include lifecycle costs and impacts and responsibility approaches addressing the end-of-life of products. As an outcome of the EPR programs, our TCAS team has successfully developed products and packaging designed for Stewardship Ontario’s Blue Box collection and recycling program.

Further supporting Southwire EPR efforts, Éco Entreprises Québec, Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority in Ontario, and other provincial locations help recover and recycle our products, packaging and components in Canada. We also follow the European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) end-of-life regulation that encourages collecting, treating, recycling and recovering electrical and electronic equipment waste. In response to the WEEE, Southwire locations collaborate with ViaTeK Solutions, a leader in environmentally responsible recycling programs to manage waste.

To achieve greater circularity through enhanced collection and recycling systems, we collaborate with the nonprofit Producer Responsibility Organization to help manage the lifecycle of our retail tools, lighting, packaging and select wire and cable products.

SIMPULL SOLUTIONS®

Southwire SIMpull Solutions® services and products eliminate waste at the jobsite and support our circular economy ambitions by extending their useful life through a lease, collection and refurbishment program as well as a repair and return program. Through these programs, Southwire’s Machine Services Group helps 100% of SIMpull® reels retain value and avoid landfills while also helping to reduce GHG emissions, resource use and waste associated with new product manufacturing and ownership.

PERFORMANCE

Our transition to a circular economy allows Southwire to enhance product innovation while transforming our business model to keep resources within the value chain and extend the life of products. In addition, investing in the circular economy helps Southwire meet carbon reduction goals related to Scope 3 customer emissions while also helping to meet sustainable business growth objectives through efficiency cost savings associated with the extended life of products.

To assess the effectiveness of our efforts, we evaluate our performance by tracking year-over-year disposal and recycling metrics along with reels repaired, returned and recycled. In 2021, our recycling and disposal volumes increased due to modernization and expansion projects at approximately ten Southwire sites. The increased landfill volume includes soil and debris from demolition work, while the recycling quantity includes concrete shipped off-site for recovery and reuse. To further evaluate our circular economy efforts, we are developing metrics and goals that will be implemented in the near future. In addition to tracking our impacts, we also assess product responsibility and performance internally through consumer feedback, satisfaction and sales results. 

View the full Southwire 2021 Sustainability Report.

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Southwire

Southwire

A leader in technology and innovation, Southwire Company, LLC is one of North America’s largest wire and cable producers and an emerging influence in many important electrical markets. Southwire and its subsidiaries manufacture building wire and cable, utility products, metal-clad cable, portable and electronic cord products, OEM wire products and engineered products. In addition, Southwire supplies assembled products, contractor equipment, electrical components, hand tools and jobsite power and lighting solutions, and the company provides a variety of field and support services to customers around the world. For more information about Southwire’s products, its community involvement and its vision of sustainability, visit www.southwire.com.

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