Submitted by Southwire
One of the fundamentals of our Growing Green tenet is to make the most of the Earth’s natural resources. From metals to packaging to production materials, we take a circular approach to reducing our environmental impact.
Through careful materials management and collaboration — both across our sites and with external partners — we strive to “close the loop” on the products we create and the materials we use. We focus on incorporating recycled, biodegradable or otherwise sustainable content into our products and packaging where function and cost are not adversely impacted, including by enabling material reuse when our products reach end of life. It’s the right thing to do for our ecosystems and climate — and it’s a smart, sustainable and cost-effective way to continue Growing Green.
SUSTAINABILITY CASE STUDIES:
HOW WE REDUCED WASTE IN 2022
Year after year, we set out to refine our material-management practices, and that mindset led us to execute new initiatives in 2022. We also began the development of several future projects, such as a pilot project to create hybrid pallets from recycled PVC/nylon. During the year, Southwire’s deep investments in modernization continued to impact our waste intensity. Yet we know the results will make our organization leaner, less wasteful and more productive over the long term. Examples of our 2022 waste-reduction initiatives include:
Reclaiming & Recycling Used Reels
One of the goals of our packaging group is to use 100% recycled materials in our packaging by 2023. In 2022, we supported this goal with an initiative out of our 12 for Life® facility to recover and reuse plastic reels.
Once the facility packages wire onto reels, it sends them to a local vender that cuts the wire into smaller sections. Historically, the vendor would discard the empty reels — many of which were still in good condition. Now, we repurchase used reels from the vendor, buying them back at a greatly reduced cost. In 2022, our reels initiative enabled more than $200,000 in savings and helped us divert 78,000 pounds of plastic from landfills. We also expanded our reel-recovery efforts to regions in the U.S. West and Midwest, with similar programs now in place at our Starkville, Miss., and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., sites.
Southwire’s plastic spools and reels are now made of 100% reground, reclaimed and recycled plastic materials — that’s 10 million pounds of recycled plastic put to good use every year.
Shifting to Biodegradable Film
When we prepare many of our products for shipment, we use stretch film to secure them to our pallets for safe transportation. While stretch film is a useful product, we wanted to reduce our use of virgin plastic and avoid contributing to landfill waste.
In 2022, our Carrollton Building Wire plant introduced the use of Vanish® Stretch-film alternative, which has an additive that causes the plastic material to biodegrade by about 70% after two years. The remaining material is consumed by microorganisms, leaving no trace of the film behind. The new film is also stronger than its nonbiodegradable counterpart, so while it costs slightly more, the plant was able to use far less. The site achieved annual savings of $16,900 and avoided contributing 54,000 pounds of plastic waste.
Modernizing Our Heflin, Ala., Facility
As part of our ongoing modernization efforts, we announced the installation of new medium-voltage technology at our Heflin manufacturing facility in 2022. The upgrades will help transform the plant into a world-class medium-voltage cable manufacturing facility with a focus on improving material flow, reducing raw material handling and modernizing existing assets.
Sustainability Spotlight: Making Every Last Bit of Our Copper Count
Copper is at the heart of our operations, and we don’t want any of it to go to waste — even if it’s just a speck of copper dust. Southwire uses a solution system to break down large pieces of copper. During the process, the solution flows over copper filter paper, which collects pieces of copper dust. We then send the paper to a metal recycling partner. Southwire also sends all bare copper scrap back to our copper rod manufacturing plant in Carrollton, Ga., where it can be melted down and reused.
Visit https://www.southwire.com/sustainability to view the full 2022 Southwire Sustainability Report.
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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