In 1972, when Flex was three years into the manufacturing business, the first conference to put the environment at the forefront of international dialogue was taking place, according to the United Nations (UN). The UN Conference on the Environment in Stockholm launched a slogan, “Only one earth,” advocating for transformative and collaborative environmental change on a global scale.
Fast forward 50 years, Flex is one of the largest, diversified manufacturers partnering with customers across industries and geographies. And now, we’re celebrating this year’s World Environment Day theme, Only one earth. This theme pays homage to the observance’s origin at the Stockholm conference, where environmental policy became a universal concern, making the motto iconic and representative of the need to act now.
Forging a more sustainable future is a constant endeavor, and the need for continuous efforts at the local and global scale is clear. In celebration of World Environment Day, we highlight some of our locally-driven initiatives focused on safeguarding our planet.
Making community investments in climate action
We are focused on improving the quality of life in our many communities through strategic investments and employee volunteerism. The Flex Foundation is a philanthropic organization that supports and fosters positive change within the communities where our customers, suppliers and partners operate. In 2021 alone, the Flex Foundation provided grants to support efforts aimed at lowering emissions, promoting wildlife conservation, conserving natural resources and more.
For example, the foundation supports the implementation of a real-time deforestation alert system for the Atlantic Forest, one of the most critical conservation areas in South America. Using AI, the system regularly analyzes satellite images of the forest, then monitors and reports on deforestation to enable quicker and more effective enforcement of environmental law and help ensure compliance of companies that source the forest.
Another project the foundation is proud to promote is education and sustainable technology to protect Los Sauces Public Conservation Park in Mexico while upskilling the local community and better serving visitor needs. Preserving the area not only protects local wildlife and vegetation but enhances the resiliency of the local coastal community that is prone to certain climate-related hazards such as floods, fires and landslides. “Dry” toilets, which use less water, and solar panels used to support power sources for visitors were installed to improve the experience of visitors in an environmentally conscious way. In addition, the project promoted educating rangers and training young women from vulnerable communities to serve as environmental educators, community scientists and rangers.
The Flex Foundation aims to steward and sustain meaningful change in the communities that enable us to live our purpose. Climate action is one of the foundation’s strategic focus areas, and we’re committed to our continued work with organizations tackling this global issue locally and at scale.
— Kyra Whitten, Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Sustainability
Empowering employees to take environmental action in their communities
Our employees are empowered to take positive environmental action into their own hands as well. Annually, sites globally take part in the Earth Day Challenge, where team members lead a wide range of initiatives to benefit the environment.
This year, 61 sites across 10 countries carried out 293 activities and dedicated 5,568 volunteer hours to environmental action, including activities like gardening, e-waste recycling and climate change education. A judging panel consisting of leaders from Sustainability, Global Operations and Human Resources selected one winning site from each region for their innovative, scalable environmentally sustainable initiatives and strong employee involvement.
93% of Manaus, Brazil team members participated in activities like volunteering, educating and donating to benefit environmental and social causes. Team members dedicated over 2,800 volunteer hours to local organizations focused on preserving the environment, driving social progress and more.
Volunteers were recognized for their visit to the Wings for the Amazon Institute (Instituto Asas pela Amazônia), where they donated 2,000 masks and school supply kits and partook in conservation activities in communities at the headwaters of rivers in the Amazon. In addition, Flex team members and volunteers from the city of Manaus collected over half a tonne of waste from the Mindu River Ecologic Corridor.
Supporting the people of the Manaus community was also important to the team, who donated materials to the United Hands of Autism (Mãos Unidas Pelo Autismo) including painted pots, balloons, paint brushed, toys and more. The site also donated books and other supplies to thrift stores, schools and even a local artist for upcycling. Also, clothes were donated to organizations like “Lar das Marias,” a shelter for women undergoing cancer treatment.
Over 500 fruit tree seeds were distributed to Flex employees, and the site hosted several educational activities to inform the team on ways to reduce the use of resources and their carbon footprint, including a sustainable recipe workshop. These activities benefitted more than 1,500 employees and community members, serving as an inspiration and example for many more.
8,500 team members at our Chennai, India site got involved in activities, including games and competitions, for the earth day challenge centered around waste and energy reduction and community.
Chennai employees did their part to reduce waste by leading a paperless campaign, removing all paper cups from the office and saving money and waste. The office hosted several awareness talks on topics like how to reduce single-use plastics. Outside of the office, employees volunteered in street, beach and lake cleanups, resulting in more than 2 tonnes of waste collected. Reducing energy consumption was a major goal that the team tackled by installing solar streetlights and implementing auto light switches, conserving energy across Chennai campuses. These changes resulted in saving 1,037 kWH of energy.
Employees weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to help relaunch organic farming at the SEZ “Special Economic Zone” campus, converting an abandoned 3,600 square feet piece of land to fertile soil. The team celebrated in sowing seeds such as chilies, tomatoes, and coriander, which will be used in site cafeterias. Team members also volunteered by planting at a high school in the Santhavelur, Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu.
Sprinkling in some fun while testing their knowledge, the Chennai site held various games, word puzzles and online quiz competitions. Team members even participated in a drawing contest with the theme “climate change,” recognizing winners with prizes.
Many of our Timisoara, Romania team members came together to dedicate over 250 hours of volunteering over several days to get outside, help protect local wildlife and plant hundreds of trees, herbs, flowers and more.
Populations of the beautifully colored European birds called Dumbraveancas (Coracias garrulus) are threatened by deforestation and other means, harming its natural habitat. To help conserve bird populations, team member volunteers planted 130 native trees: 50 white poplar and 80 oaks in the “agricultural desert.” This work not only helps the bird populations, but other wildlife and species living in the area.
Specific to the WeWilder campus, a team of 15 volunteers planted several gardens including plants such as food, herbs and flowers. WeWilder is Romania’s first rural hub, an innovative approach to living and working, located in the wild Southwestern Carpathian Mountains. The team there aims to bring diverse people together to have creative experience in the midst of nature while learning to grow and enjoy local food. In total, the volunteers planted a wide spectrum of food, herbs and flowers, including wild strawberries, berries, the Dwarf Periwinkle herb, Spiraea chamaedryfolia, ewonimus europeus, laburnum anagyroides flowers, common dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) native ornamental plants, a sycamore tree, and more.
The team also helped landscape in a home building project, which was funded by the Flex Foundation. The project aims to benefit adults with disabilities by providing sustainable and replicable affordable housing. Since the team was unable to plant in the actual ground, volunteers creatively built sustainable wooden plots throughout the area where they planted thuja, a sturdy and ornamental type of shrub.
Our continued community commitment
At Flex, we have a unique opportunity to use our global scale to collaborate across borders and continue taking action — locality by locality in the places where we can make the most impact. And we have plans to do more.
We’re committed to 100% of our major sites partnering with local NGO by 2025 and providing the tools needed to engage 75% of employees to volunteer by 2025 and 100% by 2030. Driving a local approach helps address global challenges, including climate action. We only have one earth, but we have countless communities with the potential to advance sustainability for the better of us all.