As a globally responsible business, Datamars is looking closely at how waste is created and managed through its business with the view to eliminate or minimise.
The attention on waste is one part of a broader companywide sustainability focus that is anchored within Datamars’ overall company strategy.
Waste from its operations is viewed in two ways. Firstly, through a resource efficiency lens. This relates to the amount of waste which is created through the daily and direct operations of the business. The second lens is the company’s carbon footprint, part of which captures the emissions generated through the disposal of that waste, whether that is via recycling, landfill or other.
A clear picture of the Group’s waste practices is emerging as a result of Datamars’ recent companywide climate change impact assessment as well as ongoing ISO14001 Environmental certification programmes across four of the company’s major sites. This comprehensive data store provides a strong baseline and valuable insight to help guide site-specific improvements around the world.
Daniele Della Libera, Datamars CEO says “our team alongside external experts, conducted a thorough assessment of our entire business to understand where our greatest environmental impacts were likely to be. We want to keep taking action, but it’s important to know that we’re focusing our efforts on the areas where we can have the greatest measurable impact. Through our solutions we’re providing customers with data and insights so they can make better informed decisions for sustainable productivity, and through these measured assessments we’re doing the same internally.”
While Datamars’ sustainability efforts will continue to evolve, the company is currently focusing on five key areas of improvement;
- Reducing energy consumption
- Increasing investment in renewable energy
- More carbon-efficient transportation methods for Datamars products
- Adapting materials for products and packaging, and
- Reducing and finding new ways to re-use waste – both within operations and out in the market.
From the climate assessment, Datamars can validate outstanding measurable successes. Already five Datamars sites, including key production hubs Brazil and Spain can boast a staggering 100% recycle rate for all waste material. No waste is reaching landfill. Other Datamars sites, including France, Australia and Romania are close behind with 90% waste recycled, the UK and Slovakia with 73% and New Zealand with 67%.
Datamars Slovakia, Spain and Thailand are some of the sites implementing customised initiatives to reimagine waste management.
Slovakia is ISO14001 Environmental Management System certified. Like many other Datamars sites, Slovakia engages all staff in annual training around the environment and the value and process of waste separation.
Martin Miskovic, Quality Supervisor at Datamars Slovakia explains that each type of waste has a dedicated collection bin and code.
“All waste baskets and bins for 24 different waste types are marked and continuously checked. What is possible to separate, we are separating.”
However, Martin says the site’s biggest efforts have been directed to decreasing production waste before it can enter the waste stream.
“One of our most significant improvements has been the elimination of scrap plastic.”
“Three years ago, our KPI for scrap was 2.1%, the following year 2%, then last year we took a more aggressive approach to make it 1% and implemented many actions in production. In the last three months of 2021 we were able to achieve this 1% target. So, we decreased the scrap by 50% in one year.”
Datamars Slovakia has embarked on a number of parallel waste reusing and reducing actions.
One of these actions was the installation of new hot runner moulds which can manufacture animal ear tags without producing runners (a scrap by-product of plastic moulds). This technology has eliminated runner waste from the initial production process.
Martin estimates nearly 15% of waste has been avoided as a result of the new hot runner mould technology to date.
Datamars Thailand manages major manufacturing such as injection moulding, assembly of electronics, and finishing operations. It services Datamars’ own distribution centres around the world.
Pat Hover, Plant Manager for Datamars Thailand says waste avoidance initiatives are a major focus at the large site, which in 2021 achieved ISO14001 environmental management certification.
While the team strive to achieve maximum yield – the goal of ensuring every unit produced is fit for purpose to be sold through to customer – Pat explains that in any production environment, there’s always a small amount of product or material that isn’t able to be sold. “We want to prevent things going into the waste stream. So we rework and reuse as much as we can ourselves, and on-sell as much as possible of what we can’t to others who can use it. This requires a considered approach.
“We have been working with a product in which the battery and PCBA are encased in a protective overmoulded cover. We have developed a jig, a drill press, and a process to remove the battery and PCBA from any overmoulded scrap so they can be reused. This keeps batteries and PCBAs out of the waste stream as well as saves a lot of money.”
“We also rework RFID antennae, removing the copper and we extract and reuse IC modules from pet identification microchips. You can imagine how small those are!”
Pat explains that Datamars Thailand has developed its own waste segregation and sale processes to minimise the amount of waste going to landfill. These systems and processes help overcome limitations in the country’s own municipal recycling infrastructure.
Pat says the ratio of waste produced through operations at Datamars Thailand has decreased approximately 30% during the last two years as a result of these new waste sorting, reuse, recycling and reselling practices.
Datamars Spain assembles products for Pet Identification, producing and finishing transponders, syringes, and readers for the wider Datamars Group. It is ISO14001 Environmental Management System certified which supports its systematic focus on waste management.
Teresa Perez, Quality & Health & Safety Manager at Datamars Spain says the site has a strong focus on “the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”.
Teresa says ‘Reduce’ is often the forgotten part of the 3Rs but it is most important. “If you able to reduce waste from the beginning, this is the best thing that we can do to improve our environmental impact. Compared with all the waste managing programmes in place across Datamars Spain, Teresa says the reduction initiatives are by far her favourite.
With waste sorting and reuse practices well established, and an impressive track record that has also led to Datamars Spain achieving zero waste to landfill, the team are focused on pursuing material efficiency across production as another avenue to reduce waste and improve their impact. Its success is directly related to a tightly controlled quality system.
“We need to have a strong quality system that increases the material efficiency in our process. If you have control of your systems, you can reduce waste. You don’t make mistakes. You don’t have an imperfect product. For me, this is so important.”
“We placed into our production system different inspection and quality checks to intercept any mistakes as soon as possible – to stop, and fix, and ensure 100% of product produced can go through to the customer and add value.
Teresa says a huge effort led to material efficiency gains in assembly processes across 2021. “We were pretty good before with 99.12% material efficiency, but now we are very good with 99.46%! Material efficiency in the process of sealing the transponder and syringe package is 99.75%. To put this into real terms, our overall material efficiency improvement of 0.34% is equivalent to us preventing an estimated 403kg of waste entering the waste stream in one year.”
Teresa poses the question “How is it possible to do this?” and answers “Close collaboration between Quality and Production teams to ensure strong procedures and training, training, training! Our teams are united on the goal of material efficiency, from both a customer supply and a waste management perspective”
Learn more about Datamars’ sustainability journey at Datamars.com/sustainability