Sustainability

We are all becoming familiar with the term ‘Sustainability’ which is banded around quite often, but what does it actually mean?

It can mean different things to different people and in different industries.

The United Nations (UN) has, however, developed a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are designed to support companies’ business priorities.

There are 17 goals in all covering aspects such as: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being all the way through to Gender Equality, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure and Climate Action.  The full list, together with more detailed explanations, may be found on the UN website.

Since the UN list is long, and many of the goals are not addressable at an individual company level, enterprises keen to contribute towards improved sustainability often select a smaller number of goals from the UN list that they can effectively work on through targeted action plans.

Members of the Australian Cablemakers Association (ACA) typically have the goals listed below embedded in their business objectives.  These, in turn, are developed into tangible action plans by each member company:

 

People

  • Workplace safety
  • Employee health
  • Gender equality
  • Training and employability
  • Talent recognition and retention

 

Environment

  • Environmental management
  • Minimising carbon footprint
  • Pollution of ground and water
  • Energy efficiency
  • Resource use and waste management

 

Products

  • Innovation
  • Product performance, quality, and material consumption
  • Hazardous substance management
  • Eco-friendly products and eco-design

 

Responsible Supply Chain

  • Ethical sourcing of materials
  • Responsible trading
  • Simplification of processes to avoid waste
  • Re-cycling of materials and packaging (drums as an example)

 

Corporate Governance and Compliance

  • Stakeholder management
  • Ethical trading
  • Human rights
  • Fair competition

 

The importance of having goals such as those listed above embedded into a company’s business plans cannot be overstated.

As consumers, we all want to deal with manufacturers who are reliable and take their obligations to its people, customers, and the planet seriously.  We also want the best deal we can get, typically.

It is only through using sustainable suppliers will we get the best deal in the long term.  Sustainable cable manufacturers, such as the members of the ACA, ensure their cables are made in facilities that are reliable and not subjected to unplanned interruptions through, for example, strikes or environmental breeches.  They also ensure that products are made in the most efficient and planet-friendly way.

Members of the ACA have, as an example, been utilising re-usable cable drums for many years.  This has the benefit of reducing landfill, reducing consumption of timbers (which come from regrowth forests), and containing overall costs.  Most members would operate their own drum refurbishment operations or may use third parties to undertake this work providing good local employment opportunities.

Another example is the abolition of lead as a stabiliser in some grades of insulation and sheath.  Clearly lead is an undesirable material to incorporate into the plastic (besides the fact it does actually work very well as a stabiliser and is relatively inexpensive) for obvious reasons.  The development of lead-free formulations has allowed members of the ACA to be certified by the Green Building Council of Australia to supply products into new buildings that may attract Greenstar certification.