Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Southwire embraces circular economy


Southwire understands the importance of material management and a smaller environmental footprint for business success. As a materials-intensive business, there are significant opportunities to reduce the resources we consume, waste and scrap we generate, recycle valuable materials to preserve critical resources, keep costs low, and effectively manage waste-related risks.

To help reduce our carbon footprint, we strive to incorporate sustainable features such as recycled materials into our product design, manufacturing, and packaging operations. Furthermore, in accordance with circular economy principles, we are increasing our recycling efforts and expanding material reuse strategies at the end of life. Southwire's efforts help minimise our raw material consumption, reduce carbon emissions across the value chain, limit resource shortages due to finite natural resource supply, and reduce the downstream impact of products and packaging as circular economy strategies become more important. These strategies, when combined, enable us to contribute to broader circular solutions that include breakthroughs within our value chain.

Southwire strives to continuously improve the value and responsibility of our products while balancing stringent industry, customer, and regulatory performance requirements, as well as material and safety standards that create barriers to the use of many alternative and recycled content inputs. To overcome obstacles, we continue to investigate input and waste reduction opportunities that will allow us to produce safer, more efficient, and sustainable products.

Product responsibility drives our operations, and we aim to:
  • Use recycled materials and reduce unnecessary content and packaging
  • Reduce or eliminate inputs that have a negative environmental and health impact
  • Reuse materials when a product's useful life is up
Our purchasing and other policies guide our materials management and help us limit the use of environmentally hazardous production inputs.

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

Topic governance has not been formalized as a redefined material topic in 2021, now including circular economy. However, our EVP, General Counsel, and Chief Sustainability Officer are in charge of sustainability.

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

Packaging is one area where we can reduce our resource and material consumption impacts. In the design and improvement of our products, our wire and cable packaging team frequently incorporates Southwire's five core sustainability tenets. Furthermore, the packaging group aims to improve recyclability while also discovering ways to save money and generate ideas for sustainability initiatives and new product ideas.

For example, the packaging team is currently working to wrap coils in paper rather than plastic whenever possible. In addition, the team has collaborated with a local recycling partner to convert more than three million pounds of scrap insulating compound into raw materials for repurposed products. We are also looking for new ways to work with customers to promote increased packaging recycling on the jobsite.

In addition, our TCAS team creates and evaluates product and packaging designs in order to reduce costs and waste while increasing recyclability and reuse. They support recyclability and reuse by participating in North American Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programmes that aid in the identification of circular economy issues such as lifecycle costs and impacts, as well as responsibility approaches addressing product end-of-life. Our TCAS team has successfully developed products and packaging for Stewardship Ontario's Blue Box collection and recycling program as a result of the EPR programs.

In addition to Southwire's EPR efforts, Éco Entreprises Québec, the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority in Ontario, and other provincial locations assist in the recovery and recycling of our products, packaging, and components in Canada. We also adhere to the European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), which encourages the collection, treatment, recycling, and recovery of electrical and electronic equipment waste. Southwire locations work with ViaTeK Solutions, a leader in environmentally responsible recycling programs, to manage waste in response to WEEE.

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 in order to achieve greater circularity through improved collection and recycling systems.

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

Southwire's transition to a circular economy enables us to improve product innovation while transforming our business model to keep resources within the value chain and extend product life. Furthermore, investing in the circular economy assists Southwire in meeting carbon reduction goals related to Scope 3 customer emissions while also assisting in meeting sustainable business growth objectives through efficiency cost savings associated with product longevity.

To assess the effectiveness of our efforts, we track year-over-year disposal and recycling metrics, as well as reels repaired, returned, and recycled. Our recycling and disposal volumes increased in 2021 as a result of modernization and expansion projects at approximately ten Southwire locations.

The increased landfill volume includes demolition debris and soil, while the recycling volume includes concrete shipped off-site for recovery and reuse. We are developing metrics and goals to further evaluate our circular economy efforts, which will be implemented in the near future. We assess product responsibility and performance internally through consumer feedback, satisfaction, and sales results, in addition to tracking our impacts.