Environmental management of the product life cycle begins with design and planning. When developing and designing a new product, or upgrading an existing one, we think not only about its commercial potential, but its environmental profile.
Our engineers and product designers are therefore tasked with making our products more environmentally friendly. Through innovative design, we strive to reduce the number of components and use more efficient materials, making each new generation of VTech products more energy efficient while lowering costs.
Our products comply with the strictest international safety and environmental regulations. For example, all TEL products and ELPs sold in the US and Europe are RoHS (Restrictions on the use of Hazardous Substances) compliant, while all TEL products and ELPs sold in Europe comply with REACH (Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).
We also strive to achieve environmental standards that go beyond statutory regulation. All VTech 2011 DECT cordless phones delivered to the US have the Energy Star® certification, meaning they use less energy than conventional units when charging. In Europe and some markets in Asia Pacific, an increasing number of VTech’s cordless phones include an “Eco Mode” function, which reduces power consumption.
Responsible manufacturing is the second stage in the cycle and at each step of the process at our plants in Dongguan and Qingyuan in China’s Guangdong Province, we take care to manage our operations from an environmental point of view.
In sourcing materials and components, VTech takes care to use only responsible suppliers and we work with them to reduce environmental impacts in their operations. All suppliers to our TEL and ELP operations are required to sign a supplier CSR agreement, specifying CSR related conditions they must abide by. The CMS operation also uses supplier agreements, or in some cases requires suppliers to sign codes of conduct. The Group carries out annual audits of key suppliers.
We adopt environmentally appropriate best practices and meet international standards in the manufacture of our TEL products and ELPs. We also work with our CMS customers to reduce product size, eliminate toxic materials and increase recyclability. Stringent internationally benchmarked procedures are in place to handle hazardous materials.
The manufacturing facilities of our TEL products are ISO14001 certified, and have been awarded “Hong Kong – Guangdong Cleaner Production Partners” status, under the scheme jointly launched by the HKSAR Government and the Guangdong Provincial Government. This is in addition to recognition as a “Cleaner Production Enterprise in Guangdong Province” from the Guangdong Provincial Government, “Cleaner Production Enterprise in Dongguan City” from the Dongguan Municipal Government and having passed fit for the “12th Five Year Energy Plan” of the Dongguan Municipal Government.
The ELP operation abides by the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) CARE (Caring, Awareness, Responsible, Ethical) Process. Our ELP manufacturing facilities have recently joined the Low Carbon Manufacturing Programme (LCMP) developed by WWF-Hong Kong, which aims to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The CMS operation is ISO14001 and SA8000 certified.
We are also investing across our manufacturing operations to reduce environmental impacts. Equipment and processes have been introduced to save energy, reduce carbon emissions, minimise waste and maintain natural surroundings. We have adopted a number of measures to reduce electricity consumption.
Energy saving or LED lights are replacing traditional ones. Our TEL operation has replaced diesel water heaters in dormitories with more efficient pumped water heaters and variable-frequency drives in air-conditioning systems. Variable- frequency drives have been installed in the plastic injection machines in our ELP factory, also reducing electricity consumption. Our CMS operation has improved the management of the air conditioning systems, fitted energy efficient light bulbs and reduced daily electric power consumption.
Product distribution also involves environmental impacts, and we are constantly thinking of more efficient ways to move around the world.
In our TEL operation, we take care to partner with carriers that use low carbon and low sulphur fuel in their sea-going vessels. Majority of the Group’s shipments are now exported through Yantian port in Shenzhen, which is closer to our manufacturing plants, rather than through Hong Kong. This helps to reduce carbon emissions and the consumption of resources. We take care to schedule incoming raw materials and outgoing product on the same transport, to reduce waste, and work with customers to consolidate orders. Our CMS operation uses recyclable aluminum pallets for transfers between Hong Kong and Dongguan, as well as recyclable cartons.
Packaging, promotion and recycling are the final sections of the product lifecycle.
To minimise environmental impacts in this area, our products are designed to avoid unnecessary packaging. Each year, we review the packaging of key products and try to reduce their size. Increasingly, we have adopted environmentally friendly printing processes.
All TEL packaging is 100% recyclable, while packaging for our TEL products sold in North America features FDA-approved aqueous coating.
Packaging for our TEL products and ELPs in Europe is compliant with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. We also actively encourage consumers to recycle. Cardboard packaging for ELPs is 100% recyclable, and furthermore, the cardboard used is manufactured from a minimum 80% post-consumer recycled material. During the financial year 2012, the ELP operation managed to reduce the use of plastic packaging materials by 49%. Beginning in the calendar year 2012, we have begun gradually to replace PVC (polyvinyl chloride) packaging with PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging for our ELPs.
Our CMS operation has also reduced packaging size, increased the use of recyclable materials and avoided the use of plastics in packaging.
In our marketing, we continue to save paper through the increased use of electronic and digital promotions and catalogues, rather than printed versions.