Founder and Consultant JLFG Communications, WA, United States
Corporate sustainability directives are often driven by a desire to remain competitive and respond to pressure from employees or customers. The flexible and hybrid electronics (FHE) industry faces unique opportunities and challenges around sustainability and how to talk about it. The market is projected to grow 10-20% annually over the next five years, driven by wearable devices and smart packaging. Tracking and traceability applications reduce waste and inefficiencies by accelerating the digital transformation, offering an environmental benefit. But fabricating millions of devices, many of which are disposable, adds to the carbon footprint of manufacturing. FHE manufacturers can position their products as reducing waste in manufacturing compared to traditional subtractive methods. Studies on an electrocardiogram (EKG) cable showed that the printed version reduced materials weight by 88 percent and lowered the carbon footprint by over 99 percent compared to conventional methods. FHE manufacturers don’t always consider or emphasize environmental advantages when designing, manufacturing, and promoting products. Sometimes they oversell the environmental benefits of their products compared to the competition. Industrial RFID tags, for example, can replace paper-based tracking systems and also create a more robust solution that reduces scrap rates. Some companies are touting eco-friendly RFID tags that are plastic-free. Do they live up to their name? And what about the rest of the product portfolio? With the backlash against plastics, it is important to tell the right story for products made on plastic substrates. Why plastic rather than another material? An honest assessment of technology options, can shape the strategy. Engineers may have excellent ideas to reduce their company’s carbon footprint or remove toxic solvents. They can explain why some proposed ideas might not work. But they need a voice. Employees can be a company’s strongest allies if given the tools they need, including a functional plan for effective sustainability communication and support to execute that plan. This presentation explains a three-pronged approach that will lead to better employee engagement, a sustainability strategy that involves all divisions and product lines, and alignment between internal and external communications. The approach shows companies how to tell an honest, compelling sustainability story that drives faster progress toward sustainability goals.