Our stakeholders expect us to play our role in the global effort to address the impact of climate change by providing products and services that advance resource efficiency. As a result, Liberty Global is committed to improving the sustainability of our products, at each point in their lifecycle. We use our Product Sustainability Scorecard tool to measure and mange this process. You can read more about the Scorecard here .
One element of product environmental impact which can be overlooked is the packaging. It is a key customer touch point and can often be costly from both financial and environmental perspectives.
In 2014, during the distribution of set top boxes in Belgium, we discovered several ways to improve our existing packaging solution. Together with Telenet, we decided to start a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Life-cycle Assessment (LCA) for new and existing packaging options. These assessments took into account several factors, including design, material, logistics, labor, storage and end-of-life possibilities.
After reviewing a number of options, we chose an inner packaging tray made of 100% organic pulp, sourced mostly from waste materials, making it completely recyclable. Due to the highly engineered design, which utilized both the material and the air around it to provide a buffer for the product, the packaging is now almost 40% lighter than its predecessor. This reduction in weight helped us improve resource efficiency, making the packages more efficient to transport as more boxes could fit on a pallet for shipment. Coupled with the use of an organic waste (bagasse) in the raw material, the end result was a Horizon packaging solution with a reduced environmental impact of over 30%. From a financial perspective, the TCO assessment highlighted the true cost of packaging across the whole life cycle, allowing us to make decisions that can maintain the customer experience, while reducing the cost compared to the previous solution.
The new packaging solution was piloted in four markets, including Virgin Media Ireland, Unitymedia, Ziggo and upc cablecom. This more environmentally friendly solution was so successful that the new packaging was rolled out in full. The LCA-TCO assessment is now part of our standard tools for assessing all product packing as it helps to protect our business against the increasing costs of materials and other resources, while also helping us to make the best decisions for the environment.
As a result, in 2016, almost 1.3 million set-top boxes with the new packaging were distributed across 6 markets, with more than 450 tons of unnecessary packaging material avoided, proof that the multi-stakeholder LCA-TCO approach is helping us to cut waste and cost across our operations.
“Our Corporate Responsibility activities are good for our business and for society,” said Rick Westerman, Liberty Global’s Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Responsibility. “It’s also about how we deliver sustainable returns to shareholders while making the most of the opportunities and benefits that our products and services create. This new packaging allows us to reduce our environmental impact while saving money.”