Blog: Taking Sustainability Seriously

March 6, 2024  /  Blog , Company Update

Sandra Lewis, HSE advisor at GTK, provides insight on how the company is working to continually improve its performance in terms of sustainability.

Sandra Lewis has worked at GTK for 17 years and has supported the company in successfully achieving important accreditations such as ISO 14001 and AS9100. In her current role as HSE advisor she has responsibility for managing GTK’s performance in terms of sustainability, as well as supporting the Health and Safety and Environmental management systems.

Volex’s commitment to improving sustainability

Sandra says, "We are a wholly owned Volex company and Volex takes sustainability very seriously. They have been internally monitoring and measuring their scope 1 and 2 emissions for over 10 years and are fully prepared for the legal reporting requirements such as the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), which become mandatory this financial year. In fact, they have been very proactive in that they set out their climate related financial disclosures in accordance with the TCFD in their 2022-2023 annual report.

"Volex is very transparent in communicating its roadmap and performance with regards to sustainability and produced a supplementary sustainability disclosure report last year. They have also voluntarily registered with the Carbon Disclosure Program (CDP) and have more recently been assessed under the Ecovadis business sustainability program which provides a globally recognised universal score carding and benchmarking system."

Sandra Lewis, GTK's HSE Advisor

Sandra Lewis, HSE advisor at GTK.

GTK, alongside all of Volex’s facilities around the world, are required to regularly report specific metrics into a central software system. This allows Volex to get a global view of its overall performance. Already there are some impressive top-level statistics, such as a recycling figure of 90% (this is the percentage of solid waste that is disposed of using a recycling process) and that 99% of the global workforce are employees in an ISO 9001 certified factory.

GTK reporting and initiatives

Sandra said, "We were implementing plans to improve our sustainability before GTK was acquired by Volex in 2018, but now there is a more formal programme for reporting and goal setting. Each month we report details of our utility usage, waste, and recycling for our two manufacturing sites in the UK (Basingstoke), Romania (Craiova) and our office and warehouse in Taiwan. This allows us to measure the carbon emissions for each of these sites.

"As well as the statistics we report into Volex, we are tasked with setting additional goals and objectives that are more specific to our facility. As each Volex factory is different, this will be heavily influenced by the products they manufacture and the production processes they use. The key objective is to identify areas for improvement at the factory level and demonstrate tangible results year on year.

"We are continually looking for ways to make improvements,” said Sandra. “Some of these can be quick wins and others take longer to implement. Both of our manufacturing sites have recycling in place and 95% of our lighting in these locations uses LED bulbs. We are investigating other areas including packaging: both finished product packaging and transit packaging between our UK and Romania factories, and freight options such as road instead of air."

"Over the last two years, an increasing number of customers have been asking questions about our sustainability performance."

Cable recycling is especially important to our sustainability.

Proper recycling of our raw cable is especially important to our sustainability.

Working with suppliers

Sandra commented, "When we are evaluating suppliers, there are a variety of different factors we need to take into consideration. However, we are becoming more discerning when asking questions about how committed they are to sustainability and what initiatives they have in place and their roadmap for the future. Responsible and ethical sourcing is more important now."

Questions from customers

"Over the last two years, an increasing number of customers have been asking questions about our sustainability performance,” stated Sandra. “Some of these are from existing customers, who are reviewing their current supplier base. Others are from prospective new customers who may well use this as part of their decision-making criteria for supplier selection. In fact, it is estimated that 91% of companies take sustainability criteria into account in purchasing decisions (1). We anticipate this type of scrutiny from customers and prospects will increase over time.

"The Volex annual report, supplemental sustainability disclosure report provides customers with comprehensive information about the organisation’s overall performance and roadmap for the future. This is backed up by the independent assessments of CDP and Ecovadis."

What does the future look like?

"Legislation and internationally recognised targets for reducing emissions means that organisations must take sustainability seriously, and at GTK we will be looking to continuously improve our performance every year," said Sandra.

"Fortunately, the fact that we are part of the Volex group means that there are comprehensive programmes and processes for us to follow and we can share ideas and initiatives with other entities. We predict that over time customers and prospects will weight sustainability much more highly when evaluating their suppliers and those organisations that are committed to operational excellence in this area will be much more successful."

Sources: (1) HEC Sustainable Procurement Benchmark