Why ABB supports ‘the cleanest expedition’ ever

ABB Benelux supports the fantastic 'Clean2Antarctica'

As a large industrial player, ABB realises that we have a major impact on the climate. We make individual efforts in this respect every day, but we also support the fantastic ‘Clean2Antarctica’ project.

Going to the South Pole in a car made of recycled plastic. That is the audacious plan of Edwin and Liesbeth ter Velde from Zaandam. In the course of this year the couple is leaving for Antarctica, the coldest place on earth, together with a couple of students. Once there they will cover 2,400 kilometres in 40 days at temperatures below -30 °C.
This expedition will not only be the coldest one, but also the cleanest, for this adventurous lot. To cover a 2,400 kilometre distance they take a car they personally made and printed in 3D using recycled plastic. Nice to know that the ‘ink’ for the printer was made from ground PET bottles and other ‘waste’. The vehicle is powered by a number of trailers with solar panels. Their project is very aptly named “Clean2Antarctica”.

Like many stories Liesbeth and Edwin’s story also started a couple of years ago at the kitchen table. Throwing away the umpteenth plastic packaging when cooking dinner was the proverbial last drop for them. They turned both their waste basket and their way of thinking completely upside down. And the next day went to the supermarket with their own recipients.

ABB also takes responsibility

With shared passion ABB was more than pleased to join Liesbeth and Edwin’s plan. Because as a company – represented by 135,000 staff in more than 100 countries – we realise we have a large impact on the climate. Both in the products and services we develop, and in how we do so. That’s why we want to give a voice to the expedition. By sharing their message, we and our clients can make a difference.

What sustainability means for ABB is not just an idle description in our mission statement. We also put it into practice. It involves easy choices: led lights in our branches in Ede and solar panels on our roof, for example. But also less obvious matters. Such as replacing complex, hydraulic-driven machines by (just as complex) electric-driven alternatives which consume less energy. Or developing new applications for residual currents which used to leave the plant as ‘waste’.

Continue to invest, continue to learn

Just like for Edwin and Liesbeth, sustainability is often a story of “just do it” with trial and error. ABB adopts a rather vulnerable position in all this, I think. An example? A few years ago we invested, together with Wageningen University, a lot of time and money in the development of a new disposa-ble cover for an installation box. After finishing the wall and breaking the cover, it is thrown in the waste bin. A wonderful opportunity to replace it by an environmentally-friendly alternative. That is why we developed a biodegradable cover. But many technicians found the biodegradable cover less user-friendly because it would break easily. That is why, after a few years, we took it off the market. On the other hand, other tests with reusable plastic in our installation boxes, did become a success. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

Being sustainable every day

If the economy is doing well today, people are busy. Matters such as global warming and pollution threaten to end up in the background. Because it costs time and money to make efforts for the environment. And people are not always willing to do so. How can you convince people of the sustainable way-of-life? I think we can get a lot of inspiration from Edwin and Liesbeth’s story. As a techni-cian or company you are on an expedition each day to make a better world for everyone. Start with small, feasible steps, and talk about it. Don’t wait, make your move now.

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About the author

Hielkje Reindersma

Production Location Manager in Ede. Also responsible for health, safety and the environment at the Ede site. With ABB since 2001.
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