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Reducing plastic waste in India

Ericsson operates facilities all around the world and in many places our employees don’t have the luxury of simply turning on a tap and filling a glass with cool, refreshing water. In places where this isn’t possible, we have long relied on either single-use plastic drinking bottles or larger water dispensing bottles that are large, cumbersome, difficult to store and heavy to carry around. India is one such location. With 25 locations in India that have approximately 10,000 employees, we have a lot of thirsty individuals who were creating a large amount of plastic waste – 25,000 bottles a month on average.

Knowing what we know now about the impact of plastics on the environment, both on land and in the oceans (and specifically the Pacific Garbage Patch) our team in India was keen to find a new approach to providing clean drinking water to our staff. They reviewed the volumes, counted the cost, considered the environmental impact, and then identified a solution – a simple and straightforward water filtration process called reverse osmosis (RO).

The RO process removes dissolved inorganic solids (such as salts) from a solution (such as water) by using normal water pressure to push the tap water through a semipermeable membrane. We identified a total of 21 suitable locations (the remaining four were too small to be cost efficient) and in February we installed 150 free-standing RO free systems, thereby removing approximately 25,000 plastic bottles a month from circulation.

Key facts:

  • Total estimated reduction annually of 300,000 bottles – the combined weight of which is equivalent to two medium-sized SUVs
  • The total CO2 emission reduction (due to reduced manufacturing and incineration) is 96,000 kgCO2e per month, which adds up to 1,200 tonnes CO2 per year (enough energy to power 104 average family homes annually)

These reductions will make a substantial contribution to reaching our 2018 energy target for facilities, which is to achieve a 5 percent reduction from our 2017 closing position. Since we closed at 170 ktonnes CO2 in 2017, a 5 percent reduction means achieving a closing position of 162 ktonnes in 2018. By creating a reduction of 1,200 tonnes of CO2 annually, the India project will achieve a full 20 percent of the 2018 energy target for our facilities, or 7 percent in terms of the combined global energy target.

Due to the success of the RO system in India, we are currently expanding our efforts to switch from bottled water to RO systems to other locations around the world. So far we have identified an additional 22 locations with the potential to reduce an additional 5,400 kg of plastic waste. Watch this space!

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To learn more about Ericsson’s sustainability work, check out our Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report 2017 at: www.ericsson.com/sustainability-report

Written by Tony Ashworth

Tony Ashworth is Head of Facility Management & Workplace Experience for Market Area Oceania, Australia & India (MOAI) and Market Area North East Asia (MNEA), and our Real Estate Global Driver for Energy and Sustainability. He has more than 18 years of real estate experience across various industry sectors, and joined Ericsson in 2016. He has responsibility overall for the performance management and delivery of the integrated facilities management services contract within MOAI and MNEA as well as driving energy and sustainability targets globally across the real estate portfolio. He is also an active member of the IFMA (International Facilities Management Association).

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