Site-by-site sustainability efforts yield broad benefits

From repurposed plastic pellets to 100% recyclable packaging, ABB Installation Products is implementing production processes that are a win for customers and the environment.

Globally, it’s estimated that only 9% of plastic waste is successfully recycled, with the bulk of it ending up in landfills, incinerated or emitted into the environment. In the U.S., 4% of plastic waste is recycled, with 73% landfilled. Considering plastics account for 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)*, ABB Installation Products facilities across the U.S. are implementing initiatives to reduce and recycle waste generated by processes and packaging.

A circular approach to production

Focused on enabling a more sustainable and resource-efficient future through electrification and automation, ABB is taking a comprehensive circularity approach across all stages of the product lifecycle – targeting 80% of ABB products and solutions to be covered by a circularity approach by 2030. Aimed at driving innovation and circularity in operations, sourcing and local teams at many ABB production facilities are developing and implementing circular solutions for production processes and packaging materials.

One of these concepts originated at ABB’s Portland, Tennessee facility, a very large manufacturer of electrical junction boxes in North America. The team developed a method to repurpose scrap plastic from its injection molding processes, primarily used to make Carlon® non-metallic electrical boxes and fittings. The distinctive Carlon® blue electrical boxes are trusted in commercial and residential applications for quick and easy installation, code-compliance and durability.

Millions of parts and PVC fittings are produced each week in Portland, Tennessee for retailers and contractors to use in lighting, outlets and wiring. By grinding the scrap into pellets and using the granulated formula as part of a 25% recycled and 75% virgin material mixture in production, more than nine metric tons of waste is diverted from the landfill each month.

Packing a sustainable punch

To further address the volume of plastic waste, a number of ABB Installation Products facilities have implemented 100% recyclable packaging. The new shrink wrap packaging is designed to provide superior load containment and reduce load failure, all while being 100% recyclable. Energy usage and wrapping time are also reduced, as it requires less roll changeover and wraps faster than previous solutions.

For ABB customers, the strong packaging bolstered the quality of protection and resulted in fewer compromised and repacked shipments. In addition to enhancing the customer experience and gaining greater efficiencies, the reduction in overall packaging delivers key environmental benefits including:

  • More than 100,000 pounds per year in packing source reduction
  • Material cost savings
  • 100% recyclable packaging

Pounds of traditional plastic wrapping are used for each pallet. Shifting to recyclable materials alone makes a significant and lasting impact, considering the many pallets wrapped daily at each of the six ABB sites that have implemented the new packaging: Albuquerque, NM; Athens, Tenn.; Byhalia, Miss.; Ormond Beach, Fla.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Portland, Tenn.

We continue to advance our commitment to responsible sourcing and waste reduction, integrating eco- and employee-friendly processes and packaging solutions at more ABB sites in the coming year. Through site-by-site sustainability efforts and innovative solutions, we’re helping better meet the needs of the environment and our customers and distribution partners who rely on our products every day to support critical construction, industrial and residential projects.

Visit some of our ABB Installations Products sites to learn more:

Portland, Tennessee

Ormond Beach, Florida

Phoenix, Arizona

References:

OECD (2022), “Global Plastics Outlook: Greenhouse gas emissions from plastics lifecycle – projections”, OECD Environment Statistics (database), https://doi.org/10.1787/e39547a0-en (accessed 12 December 2022).

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About the author

Alex Richert

Alex Richert is US Operations Manager for ABB Installation Products, focused on production, sustainability, supply chain, automation and customer satisfaction. He is a trusted partner, working with teams across the organization to deliver positive customer outcomes. Over his 25-year career in manufacturing operations, Alex has led initiatives centered around automation, transformation and enhancing performance and employee experience through Lean process improvements.
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