Sustainability: Leading by example

Jens Strinsjö

Sustainability is perhaps one of the most talked about topics across industry today. The negative impact that we, as individuals as well as corporations, are having on our world understandably stirs up a lot of feelings and emotions. Governments worldwide have a duty to increase awareness and work to reduce the impact that modern living is having on the environment. Yet, in the world of work, regardless of job role or sector, questions and demands relating to sustainability tend to be put aside in favour of concentrating on meeting customer expectations and increasing profits.

The IT sector is actually a particularly good example of an industry where a lot of focus is being placed on sustainability, in areas such as recycling and reusing products and solutions, and avoiding specific materials. As an industry it’s miles ahead compared to how the physical security industry tackles these areas today.

The physical security industry has been a slow starter around issues of the environment and sustainability, and lags behind other sectors in most key areas. Compared to the IT industry, where vendors have long adopted measures to reduce or eliminate PVC plastics or conflict minerals from their supply chain, many physical security providers are yet to take significant action. As the worlds of IT and security grow ever closer, it’s imperative for vendors of the latter to become more aware of the impact their supply chains have on the former.

Still, vendors and manufacturers can’t be the only ones driving this change. End-users, installers and procurement departments need to embrace these topics and demand that environmental impact becomes a factor of any purchasing decision.

What is the reason for the big difference in attitudes between industries?

I personally feel that it comes down to the maturity level of how we do business, what we focus on and how we look at the solutions or products that we are to procure. Whilst the IT industry has adopted a solution-focused and functional delivery model, the security industry is often stuck with a traditional ‘buy and discard’ mentality which makes us focus on very tangible and basic questions when deciding on what to procure.

The downside is that this attitude is not only relatable to the impact products have on the environment, but it also often leads to a higher Total Cost of Ownership, as we don’t focus on the hidden costs, with some examples being:

  • Energy consumption of a device over numerous years
  • Maintenance and service needs throughout a product’s lifetime
  • Storage requirements related to video material, which has a direct impact on both energy and investment needs.

How can we ensure we work together towards the same goal?

Sustainability is a very complex topic and can be measured and viewed in numerous ways. There isn’t a single solution to the problems thrown up in the debate around how best to ensure a sustainable future, but there are certain areas that can act as a transparent and qualitative indicator when vetting a vendor and its products and solutions.

The UN Global Compact provides perhaps the most well-documented and quality assured framework that businesses can follow today relating to sustainability. It ensures that companies operate in accordance with human rights, minimize their negative impact on the environment and work to build a society that is better suited to future generations.

Axis signed The UN Global Compact back in 2007, making it a true pioneer within our industry. All of this can sound quite glorifying, but with over 12,000 participants I feel that it is the one true way to create change within this field through its massive foundation of knowledge and best practice sharing.

Axis is currently working towards fourteen of the seventeen SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) set forth by the UN Global Compact, not only allowing us to work in a structured manner towards a better tomorrow, but also to assure our customers that we have a purpose beyond profit.

What tangible measures do we need to focus on?

I’m a firm believer in a clarified and focused approach to sustainability. We cannot expect to change the world overnight or make a difference everywhere. At the same time, there are certain areas where we can and need to take a stand.

Since the beginning of 2009 Axis has restricted, and where possible, completely removed PVC from its products, reaching a point where, as at 2017, we’re proud to be able to state that 93% of Axis cameras are completely PVC-free. Certain phthalates used in the production of PVC plastic have been shown to have a negative impact on health, so it’s reassuring that we’re playing a part in minimising the exposure to such chemicals, whilst working towards current and future legislation.

Axis began preparing for the introduction of the EU’s Restrictions of Hazardous Substances directive 2015/863 (RoHS 3) in early 2018, using the same processes that were developed for monitoring and eliminating PVC from our products. Thankfully, we have a team of dedicated environmental experts, based at our headquarters in Lund, that is responsible for ensuring that Axis’ entire supply chain is free from PVC-related materials and any harmful alternatives. Rather than testing finished products, every component is tracked throughout the production process, enabling Axis to identify potential risks and breaches of its policy early.

 Read more in this White Paper- A sustainable future