Which route does a Ziggo media box take before its service life is over? And how does Vodafone package mobile telephones? In order to achieve the sustainability goals of VodafoneZiggo, specialists look closely at all consumer products. Rob Laros, Rubin Geurts and Harald Flach discuss the achievements and ambitions.

What is involved in making products more sustainable? Rubin Geurts, Director Consumer Products, is happy to explain. “From purchasing from a manufacturer to selling to a customer – when we’re busy with products, it’s tempting for us to primarily focus on that process. However, there are also important stages before and after that. That is why we look at the entire life cycle, beginning with design. It is precisely in the design phase that we hold the key to improving a product and making it more sustainable. Can it be smaller? More energy efficient? Can we use different materials? And what about packaging?”

“After that, it’s important to look at where we purchase products”, continues Rubin. “And where our supplier sources its materials. We can also make a difference during manufacturing, assembly and distribution, even if it’s just how much distance we allow the products to travel and how we transport them. And then the final phase of the cycle. After customers have used the products, they return them. They then have to be reused as effectively as possible. And when the products are really no longer usable, we have to process them in a responsible manner.”

Cleaner, smaller, more economical

We look everywhere for opportunities to make products and processes better and cleaner. Rob Laros and Harald Flach talk about the results of that in practice. Rob is responsible within VodafoneZiggo for Ziggo’s video products and services, such as media boxes. “New versions of the media box will become increasingly smaller in size and less harmful to the environment. We are aiming for a device that consists of 85% recycled material. By comparison: the current, much larger media box is one third recycled plastic. So that would be a major improvement. Each new box also uses a little less energy. Between 2019 and 2024, we will achieve savings of 41% in terms of energy consumption, which together will account for 38 million kilos of CO2. In addition, we are constantly developing our SIM cards. As a result of the introduction of smaller SIM cards and the eSIM, we saved 4,400 kilos of plastic in 2019, which will rise to 6,000 kilos from 2022.”

Smarter packaging
Over to logistics and packaging, the expertise of Supply Chain Control Manager Harald Flach. “When we send equipment to Ziggo customers, we do that in big orange boxes. If we do not fill them effectively, then air cushions need to be used in order to prevent sliding and thus possible damage. We are well on the way to driving up the efficiency of this packaging to 90%. A potential reduction of 5,000 kilos of plastic per year! We have also improved the packaging of Vodafone’s mobile telephones. The old ones were filled with plastic air cushions, the new ones with a cardboard ‘insert’. Much better at the same cost, and a saving of more than 1.5 million air cushions per year.”

Designing for reuse
“Another area in which we can make gains is refurbishment; reuse of our products. Especially because this reuse is repeated three times. So we get three uses out of each device. We refurbish 1 million devices each year; 80% of all hardware that is returned.

In order to be prepared for reuse, we send our products to Poland. Well packed so as to prevent damage. A change in the packaging method has led to a reduction of 4,000 kilos of plastic per year. We also design our new products to be less prone to damage in this phase, so we need less plastic.”

Getting to work
“These are just a few examples of all the things VodafoneZiggo is doing”, continues Rubin. What’s on the agenda in the coming period? “We are looking, for example, at that new video device. A very small device. Can’t that just fit through the letterbox? That would save a lot of energy. We are also looking into the parts that are delivered to our engineers. In order to protect them against moisture and dirt in the post, they often come in plastic bags. 50,000 items per year. We are going to organise that more efficiently, just like our storage, where 8,000 kilos of tape is still used at present every year. We are also going to refurbish remote controls and we are going to see if we can organise our sea transport differently. So, there’s plenty to do, let’s get to work!”

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