Fixing The Footprint

Flex’s sustainability initiatives tackle the tech sector’s shortcomings.

The tech world has a waste problem. The gadgets we use to send email, map road trips, or stream the latest music contain precious metals, plastics, and circuit boards. According to the World Counts, an online project that tracks global challenges including electronic waste, we’ve thrown out nearly 30 million tons of such waste worldwide since the start of 2017. 

But there’s another, more baked-in component of tech’s waste: the pollution caused by making all of our smart devices. Manufacturing mobile electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops accounts for between 60% to 85% of their total greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report by U.K.-based think tank Green Alliance. 

In response to waste problems, global tech companies are working to minimize the impact of their operations. For Flex, that means making internal processes greener through renewable energy, water recycling, waste segregation, and stringent material compliance. In 2016, the company generated 12 gigawatt-hours of electricity from solar sources; recycled about 734,000 cubic meters of water; recycled, composted, or reused 71% of its total waste; and diverted 91% of its waste from landfills. 

These recent gains fit into larger sustainability efforts that include Flex’s development of its own process for calculating full material compliance, even if regulations on restricted substances change. “Flex is not only creating a smarter, more connected world, but each and every one of us is helping to create the conditions for a safer and healthier world, now and well into the future,” said Flex CEO Mike McNamara in an announcement of the company’s 2017 Global Citizenship Report.

As manufacturing processes behind our electronic devices put continual strain on the environment, see how Flex is making changes to reduce its footprint for a more sustainable future.

734,000

In 2016, Flex recycled around 734,000 cubic meters of water, enough to power nearly 4,500 households for a year.

61,000,000

Since 2012, Flex has installed more than 85,000 LED light fixtures, resulting in 61 million kilowatt-hours saving per year, enough to power more than 5,600 homes for a year.

2,000 

Since 2015, Flex has generated 12 gigawatts of electricity from solar sources, enough to power more than 2,000 homes for a year.

71%

In 2016, Flex recycled, composted, or reused 71% of its total waste. 

162

Since 2012, Flex has recycled 360,000 metric tons of waste, enough to fill 162 Olympic-size swimming pools.

43,000

In 2016, Flex installed more than 43,000 LED light fixtures, which led to reductions of 15,900 metric tons in CO2 emissions and 22.6 million kilowatt-hours in energy usage.

Austin, TX, United States

In 2016, the site purchased 27,862 megawatt-hours of wind energy.

Guadalajara South, Mexico

A new waste segregation process on the manufacturing line led to 9 metric tons of solder paste getting recycled in one year.

Sorocaba, Brazil

Flex and Canadian Solar opened a 360- to 400-megawatt solar module assembly plant in December 2016.

Althofen, Austria

Plant manufactures a range of energy and medical industry devices and generates up to a megawatt of solar electricity per year.

Çorlu, Turkey

A rainwater harvesting system collects water for use in the site’s toilets, and its fire-suppression, and tap-water systems, saving an average of 40% on monthly water consumption.

Chengdu, China

Employees turn barren factory land into 500 square meters of raised beds for growing peanuts, tomatoes, eggplants, chilies, corn, and other produce.

Zhuhai, China

A solar installation generating 4.95 megawatt-hours of annual energy opened in 2012, cutting 4,600 metric tons of carbon emission annually.

Global Energy Savings Program

Flex Lighting Solutions replaced and installed more than 85,000 LEDS in 12 countries, reducing Flex’s energy footprint around the world.