FOCUS AREA #4
Environmental sustainability is reflected in Bittium´s small and big decisions in product planning and assembly and on the company´s premises. In its environmental actions, Bittium focuses on improving the efficiency of its operations and on using lower-emission energy sources. Bittium´s footprint is reduced by the longer useful life of products and the development of recycling as well as improvements in resource efficiency.
Environmental sustainability is a key focus area in Bittium´s corporate sustainability program, which is guided by the company´s environmental policy, legislation on environmental protection and sustainable development and various international principles as well as customer requirements. The most notable environmental impacts of Bittium´s products occur during the last stage of the life cycle, that is, recycling. However, all stages of the value chain have effects on the environment, and Bittium actively strives to reduce the environmental effects of its value chain.
At Bittium, environmentally sustainable operations mean responsibility for curbing the climate change and the development of resource-efficient solutions. In 2022, Bittium investigated, in particular, its possibilities to improve the energy efficiency of its premises and the company enhanced the way ecodesign principles are taken into account in product design.
Management of Environmental Sustainability at Bittium
Bittium has a certified environmental management system, which applies the most recent ISO 14 001 standard. The environmental management system enables Bittium to improve the management of its environmental impacts and the level of environmental work. The following viewpoints are the core of the management of environmental work and environmental sustainability at Bittium:
- Monitoring and observing amendments to the laws and regulations concerning environmental protection and sustainable development. The use of energy-efficient solutions in R&D (ecological design) and at business premises is also included.
- Minimizing the environmental impacts of the production, use and disposal of products. The development of instructions and practices related to ecological design supports these principles.
- Encouraging suppliers and partners to implement environmental management systems. This practice supports the realization of the principles aimed at limiting the use of hazardous substances.
- Developing energy efficiency through continuous improvement. Two energy auditors approved by the Energy Authority conduct annual on-site audits.
Bittium operates in a strongly regulated business environment. The company regularly monitors the international environmental requirements that govern its products as well as the local regulations derived from these, with major suppliers also required to comply with them. The provisions of the ROHS directives (I, II and III), the REACH regulation (on hazardous substances) as well as the WEEE (recycling of waste electronic and electrical equipment) directive have been applied in Bittium´s product design since 2002.
The EU´s proposed regulation on ecological design for sustainable products was published in early 2022. The provisions of the upcoming Ecodesign regulation framework will be applied in Bittium´s product design and product development. In its product design, Bittium will also take into account the requirements of the Medical Devices Regulation (MDR).
Bittium aims to offer halogen-free products whenever alternatives to halogen components that meet the relevant functional requirements are available. Bittium´s halogen-free statement conforms to the IEC (International Electrochemical Commission) definition of halogen-free materials (IEC 61249-2-21).
Environmental Objectives and Sustainable Development 2022
In 2020, Bittium launched an environmental program that continued until 2022. The ultimate objective of the program was to reduce Bittium´s carbon footprint, with the most relevant areas including the recycling of waste generated by the company´s operations, the use of renewable energy and increasing environmental awareness among Bittium´s employees. The environmental objectives set for 2022 and the related outcomes are described below.
In the second half of 2021, Bittium created a new sustainability program for the period 20222025, in which the previously specified focus areas were regrouped. The previous environmental objectives remained more or less unchanged in the update, but the metrics applied to them were further specified. Going forward, Bittium monitors three environmental indicators measuring the environmental effects of its operations, that is, the development of the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2ekg), the development of energy consumption (MWh) and the percentage share that renewable energy accounts for of total energy consumption.
Environmental Sustainability Indicators
The company is following the annual level of environmental protection continuously. The following indicators have been selected as essential environmental environmental sustainability indicators.
Maintaining the Waste Recovery Rate at Over 95 Percent
Most of the waste generated by Bittium is packaging waste. The waste volume has remained relatively stable since 2018 in spite of the delivery volumes of Bittium´s products increasing over the years. As manufacturing partners have taken a larger role in the supply chain in the past few years, a larger share of manufactured components and partial assemblies are delivered directly to factories, which reduces the amount of waste generated at Bittium. It has also been possible to further reduce packaging waste by simplifying the packaging modules that are used.
Bittium strives to minimize waste generation in all operations and deliver all waste for recycling. Design and material recycling are promoted in product design and development in the spirit of the circular economy while innovating sustainable solutions with partners. Bittium has implemented waste recycling to the maximum extent possible, with the waste recycling rate being 99.77 percent in 2022.
Developing the Energy Efficiency of Premises and Increasing the Share of Renewable Energy
The carbon footprint of Bittium´s premises and facilities amounts to 71 percent of the total carbon footprint. Improving energy efficiency is one of Bittium´s key objectives in terms of the reduction of its carbon footprint. District heating from the local energy supplier is not yet fully carbon neutral, but production utilizes biofuels and recycled fuels sourced from nearby areas. According to the electricity supplier, the distribution of the production methods for the purchased electrical energy is such that 38 percent comes from renewable sources, 24 percent is emission-free and 38 percent comes from fossil sources.
In the past year, Bittium reviewed the energy profiles of its business premises for both electricity consumption and heating. Renewable energy sources accounted for 40 percent of heat energy and 36 percent of electrical energy. The development of the business premises´ energy efficiency was continued in the geothermal heat and solar energy projects. Geothermal heating was implemented in the property located in Kuopio, which increased the share of renewable energy. During the year, at best, 13 percent (2021:13%, 2020: 13%, 2019: 11.9%) of the electricity used in the Oulu premises was solar power-based.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
Bittium calculated the Group´s total carbon footprint for the fifth time. The carbon footprint calculations are mainly based on process data, which was obtained from the databases of Bittium and its cooperation partners (such as product suppliers and the electricity supplier). The calculation includes direct emissions and the indirect emissions of purchased energy (scope 2). In addition to the above, the reported indirect emissions include the indirect emissions of business travel and electricity production for the past year. With the carbon footprint measurement, Bittium monitors, in particular, the efficiency of the shift to renewable energy sources and the efficiency of solutions that are more sustainable in terms of climate.
Our carbon footprint target for 2022 was <2,900 CO2e kg/employee. Our total carbon footprint was 707 tCO2e, 1,119 kg CO2e/employee (2021: 719 tCO2e, 1,096 kg CO2e/employee; 2020: 753 tCO2e, 1,130 kg CO2e/employee; 2019: 1,153 tCO2e, 1,755 kg CO2e/employee; 2018: 1,219 tCO2e, 2,865 kg CO2e/employee).
In 2022, Bittium introduced a hybrid work model and reviewed its effects on the development of carbon footprint. However, the adoption of the hybrid work model did not have significant effects on the reduction of carbon footprint, as a major share of the electricity consumption in Bittium´s premises is related to testing work carried out on desktop computers.
Technologies supporting sustainable development promote the reduction of customers´ carbon footprint and enable influence on product life cycle emissions. For example, Bittium´s solutions responding to the needs for remote diagnostics enable emission reductions throughout the value chain, as there will be less need for transport.
* When calculating carbon footprint, Bittium uses the exact data on the properties owned by it and the data available on properties leased by Bittium. This applies, for example, to the available waste figures. Bittium also takes into account the coefficients published by Statistics Finland concerning the average CO2 emissions of district heating production in Finland, for which an average is calculated for the past three years. For this reason, there may be minor variation in the carbon footprint comparison figures at the annual level.
Increasing Environmental Awareness Among Employees
One objective in the environmental program was increasing environmental awareness among Bittium´s employees. As part of the environmental program, employees were provided with both mandatory and optional training on the implementation of environmental sustainability. In 2022, Bittium continued to arrange environmental training: mandatory basic training is part of orientation training, with further training organized as required for the work duties. Sustainable development competence was also promoted through the Climate change campaign, where topics related to energy efficiency and electricity consumption are communicated on a regular basis. The campaign also allows employees to share their own best practices, for example, for electricity saving or recycling.
Circular Economy as the Starting Point for Bittium´s Product Design
Bittium´s business is mainly focused on product design, sales and marketing, while its manufacturing partners are responsible for product assembly. The environmental effects of products emerge at various phases of the product life cycle: procurement of raw materials, product manufacturing, transport, product use or product disposal. However, a significant part of the environmental effects during a product´s life cycle can be influenced through product design and design decisions. The inclusion of environmental aspects in the product design processes creates a foundation for all product design and development at Bittium.
Bittium´s approach involves an established model of operation concerning product materials and their handling: more with less. Environmental objectives are reached by maximizing the service life and recyclability of products, for example, by influencing the amount of materials used in the manufacturing of products. Environmental effects can be reduced through design decisions, for example, by reducing the consumption of raw materials, through the lengthening of life cycles, by reducing the use of hazardous materials and by ensuring that products can be recycled. The transition towards a carbon-neutral circular economy requires cooperation and innovation. In 2022, Bittium strived, through joint discussions, to strengthen its manufacturing partners´ commitment to production that is in line with the circular economy.
Bittium´s products are designed to have long life cycles and to be repairable and recyclable. For example, reliability, delivery reliability and maintenance services, including service and update work, must be guaranteed for many defense industry products for decades. Material cycles are created in relation to product repairs or returns related to the product life cycle, for example. The information security risks associated with the products must also be taken into account in this context. Bittium disassembles decommissioned products, sorts the components and recycles them appropriately.
The rapid development of regulation and materials requires that Bittium is capable of adjusting its product design in accordance with the changes required by the business environment. Bittium has responded to the requirements, for example, with redesign of products; the long service life of products provides an opportunity to create environmentally sustainable solutions on the basis of old product models. When old and new technology is combined, the old product platforms are developed into a more environmentally friendly direction, with the requirements of the most recent regulations taken into account while making no compromises on the service life.
The service life of products can also be extended by developing maintenance. In 2022, Bittium continued to develop its maintenance operations by increasing the customers´ possibilities to perform maintenance independently, which reduces the logistics emissions of maintenance.
In the past year, Bittium also improved the efficiency of its operations through the digitalization of production. The implementation of the shift to paperless production was started by developing internal processes. All production instructions were transferred as electronic documents to Bittium´s intranet, which enables up-to-date information management in one location and increases the efficiency and accuracy of production.
Ecodesign Accelerates Sustainable Product Design
In early 2022, the EU´s Ecodesign Directive entered into force in the EU area, with the Directive specifying the ecological demands to be applied in the design and development of products that use energy. The Directive promotes sustainable development by improving energy efficiency and the level of environmental protection, while also improving the security of energy supply. The scope of the Directive´s application will expand in 2023 to also include the effects of software production so that they are taken into account in the life cycle assessment concerning the ecological footprint of products.
For a long time already, Bittium´s product design and development have been guided by a model that is compliant with the EcoDesign principle and takes into account the environmental effects of products throughout their life cycle, with the aim of improving the energy efficiency of products. Systematic and proactive work aiming to prevent negative effects on the environment forms a good basis for meeting the requirements of the recent Ecodesign Directive. In the past year, Bittium actively participated in the authorities´ work on the Directive at the Finnish and EU levels and Bittium commented on the draft Directive. As part of its advocacy work, Bittium also participated at the EU level in the specification of a secure smart phone, which may not be disassembled.
In the future, regulations and customer requirements will further increase the demand for sustainable products. The EU´s proposed regulation on the ecodesign of sustainable products also includes a digital product pass, which would enable information to be collected of the various phases of value chains, such as product use, maintenance and recycling. At Bittium, the collection of product information was enhanced throughout the year, in particular, with regard to the management of environmental data. Information on the products´ environmental effects during their life cycles and their energy efficiency was imported in a more efficient manner to the PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) system, in addition to which the processes for environmental data management were further specified. The development work aims to use real-time information to increase product transparency, as required by the digital product pass.
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals by the UN
Bittium´s measures related to ecological product design, sustainable consumption and production methods and energy and resource efficiency promote, in particular, the sustainable development goals no. 8 (decent work and economic growth) and no. 12 (responsible consumption). Resource efficiency is promoted in consumption and production through operations that comply with the environmental standard. Ecological design is the starting point of product development and an important part of sustainability work at Bittium. Special attention is paid to the use of renewable energy, waste recovery rate and the reduction of waste at our operating locations and the results are reported as part of Bittium´s sustainability report.