With the current climate crisis acting as a daily reminder of the scale of the problems facing us globally, it’s essential that we as an industry all commit to being part of the solution by putting sustainability at the very heart of our business. At Genelec we don’t see this as a regulatory hurdle to overcome or an opportunity to try and ‘greenwash’ a corporate image to make ourselves look better, but something that is crucial for the AV sector to survive and thrive.
Our own journey to sustainability began with our founder Ilpo Martikainen long before he launched the company in 1978 with Topi Partanen, and here I’ll share some of our own experiences which I hope you’ll find interesting and relevant.
Ilpo had grown up on a farm in his native Finland, and he saw first-hand how the country’s huge timber industry constantly replenished its forests to ensure that the business was sustainable. Ilpo himself became actively involved in tree planting programs each year and his understanding of running a company in a holistic, sustainable way became embedded in his thinking.
With that in mind, we later entered a previously unwritten part of the company’s philosophy and heritage directly into our strategy, namely that environmental issues are just as important as sound quality and profitability.
We’d encourage everyone to implement a detailed Quality and Environmental Policy and consider signing up to the ISO14001 certification for environmental management. Created through the wisdom and experience of experts the world over, each ISO standard creates a formula for the best ways of making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials.
ISO 14001 creates the framework that allows you to set up an effective environmental management system. This gives both you and your customers the confidence of knowing that your company’s environmental impact is being continually measured, managed and improved. Monitoring your greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol provides a standardised way of calculating and measuring these, dividing them into three ‘scopes’ that include your company’s own ‘direct’ emissions plus those ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ activities such as energy purchases and transportation of goods.
Sustainable businesses should give priority to preventing or minimising the creation of waste and use of energy. If waste is generated, try and re-use it or use it for secondary purposes such as energy production. The least desirable option is to produce non-recyclable waste, and this is something that should be avoided if at all possible. Why not set yourself a target for the proportion of waste that you recycle?
TECHNOLOGY AND SUPPLY
If you’re a manufacturer, how you design your technology and source your materials is crucial to sustainable development. Make it a priority to analyse the environmental impact of each of your products and investigate ways to improve the power efficiency, modularity and packaging design. If you build long lifecycles into your technology and commit to long term technical and spare part support, you’ll be creating products that can last for decades. And while global supply chains can be incredibly complex, by effective communication and engagement with your suppliers you can evaluate their capabilities in managing environmental and social issues, their communication practices and their financial stability. By auditing your suppliers and creating a supplier Code of Conduct you can develop better sustainability and responsible business practices.
There are no quick fixes, and the road to sustainable business is one that requires commitment, constant analysis and a real desire for improvement. But at Genelec we see this not as a choice, but an imperative for the future of our industry.