Telecommunications supplier Ericsson has developed more environmentally friendly packaging inserts for its remote radio products. With this, the company wants to get closer to its own sustainability goals, but also to meet new legal regulations and taxes on plastic packaging in initially the EU, Canada and India.
With the new packaging components, the total plastic content can be reduced from 20 percent to less than one percent in the type of packaging described, explains Ericsson. The high product weight was a challenge for the development. Deutsche Telekom and Swisscom are testing the new packaging design.
Wood fiber materials instead of petroleum-based plastics
Ericsson reports that the company’s design team for new packaging components has switched from petroleum-based plastics to wood fiber materials. Two packaging designs with the new materials were also developed with two suppliers. The weight of the electronic products from 24 to 36 kilos presented a particular difficulty. The new material must have a high level of stability to protect the products.
Only the adhesive tape remains in this packaging as a petroleum-based plastic component, explains Ericsson.
For example, plastic has been achieved by applying an abrasion-resistant coating to the wood fiber material, eliminating the need for the plastic bag normally used to protect the product’s surface. The remaining plastic is the tape used to seal the outer packaging. This is how Ericsson came up with the reduction of the plastic content of this packaging from 20 to less than one percent.
According to Ericsson, the new packaging components have achieved a balanced or better result in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e) over the entire life cycle compared to existing solutions. The 100 percent corrugated cardboard inserts also reduce the packaging size by 15 percent and 20 percent respectively compared to conventional plastic inserts.
Decarbonization along the supply chains
As the company clarifies, it initiated the new development both because of its own sustainability goals and upcoming legislation, such as taxes on plastic packaging. Ericsson aims to be carbon neutral across all its value chains by 2040. So far, the company is also well on schedule, but it could become more difficult to achieve the desired goals from 2030 onwards.
Mats Pellbäck Scharp, Head of Sustainability at Ericsson, sees the newly developed packaging materials as another step in the right direction: “Packaging is part of our goal of halving emissions in the supply chain by 2030, and avoiding plastics contributes to our climate and environmental goals. Ericsson’s design team has shown that it is possible to remove plastic from the packaging of complex and heavy telecommunications equipment while maintaining a high level of product protection.”
Cooperation partners Deutsche Telekom and Swisscom are testing the new packaging. Saskia Günther, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Swisscom, emphasizes that working together with suppliers on environmental issues not only helps to improve one’s own climate footprint, but also accelerates the transformation in the entire ITC industry. Melanie Kubin-Hardewig, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Telekom, explains that Deutsche Telekom focuses on the entire life cycle of its products. Disposable plastics have already been removed from the packaging of our own T-devices. Working with technology suppliers is an essential step in developing more sustainable packaging.
Ericsson hopes that, after successful trials, the new packaging solution will be used by more customers in the coming months. In the future it should also be available for other hardware products.
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