Published 11 months ago.
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To sustainably support the tremendous global demand for connectivity, collaboration is needed across the value chain to create solutions that enable more information to move faster, with greater protection and safety, using less
For many years, a common complaint among people in the US has been the state
of the country’s infrastructure. Now, as continuous connectivity has become
increasingly critical — with people spending more time at home since the
pandemic — market trends for power and telecommunication networks are
accelerating demand for cable solutions.
The passing of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure
Law in 2021 will
bring a greater focus on upgrading our utilities and transportation. In fact,
over half of the bipartisan plan allows for accelerated growth to the current
infrastructure — which includes broadband, power, airports, public transit,
roads, electric buses and electric vehicle
— making improvements to wire and cable a necessity.
However, as this rise in enhanced connectivity subsequently causes record demand
for energy, all industries related to power and telecommunications must also
shift their mindsets to prioritize carbon-reduction goals and more sustainable
solutions — without sacrificing safety and reliability. By keeping an open mind
to partnerships and collaboration throughout the value chain, organizations can
be better equipped to not only meet their sustainability goals, but also drive
The industry should focus on developing advanced materials that are safer, and
enable longer service life and more efficient installation, for reliable
communications while using less material.
According to a 2021 report from Boston Consulting Group,
the telecoms sector is responsible for
about 3-4 percent of global CO2 emissions — about twice the level of the much more heavily scrutinized aviation sector. As experts predict global data usage
will increase by 60 percent, that number could increase to 14 percent of global
CO2 emissions by 2040 unless telecoms and communication technology
companies take significant steps to lower their environmental impact.
In terms of sustainability, the cable and connectivity industries have both a
tremendous opportunity and an analogous challenge. Equally paramount to
sustainable solutions are safe solutions — starting with the materials used.
Whether utilized in buildings, emergency backup applications or broadband, the
solutions must meet and exceed industry expectations — offering the reliability
that’s essential for consistent, long-term performance. After all, it’s expected
that newly erected infrastructure should last at least the next 50 years.
Key to safety and performance, materials must be proven for fire
by demonstrating low levels of smoke, corrosivity and toxicity — attributes that
help save lives and equipment — such as Dow’s
high-performance, halogen-free, flame-retardant (HFFR) UNIGARD™ Flame
compounds, which are designed to meet such requirements. The service life of a
product is also vital to help reduce the frequency of replacement, which
directly results in lessened environmental impact and disruption to consumers
and communities. Crucial to achieving this quality consistency is the
development of complementary new products — such as AXELERON™ Telecom Cable
Compounds with CONTINUUM™
Bimodal Polyethylene Resins.
Because sustainability is such a broad topic, companies and groups are still
defining what it looks like within their industries. According to the
IBM Institute for Business Value’s annual CEO
while more than half of CEOs at telecoms companies say operating more
sustainably is a top priority in the next two to three years, those same
respondents also consider sustainability to be one of the top three challenges
in that same time span.
Therefore, to support the tremendous global demand for connectivity, closer
collaboration will be necessary throughout the industry — across the value chain
from material providers to end-users — to create sustainable solutions that
enable more information to move faster, in denser configurations, with greater
protection and safety, using less energy.
Understanding this importance, material providers such as Dow and major cable
internet service providers (ISPs) including Comcast,
Cox and Charter have all made
carbon-reduction commitments and plan to be carbon neutral in or before 2050.
Yet, these aspirations don’t stop with carbon. For example, Dow has recently
committed to “Transforming the
by converting plastic waste and other forms of alternative feedstock to
commercialize 3 million metric tons of circular and renewable solutions
As the industry progresses, active involvement with trade associations will
allow companies to stay on top of emerging performance trends and customer
needs. Collaboration between strategic partners also allows the industry to
implement far-reaching ideas — such as utilizing
recycled content or creating an advanced-recycling
for wire and cables. According to the Internet and Television
to reach their own commitments and achieve zero waste to landfill, ISPs are
putting programs in place that focus on recycling the coaxial cable used to lay
broadband networks by breaking down the wires into raw materials to resell.
Additionally, the program is adapting the recycled plastic from the coaxial
waste to use for other industries.
As the US focuses on evolving its infrastructure, the power and telecoms
industries have an opportunity to make an impact through long-lasting and
sustainable solutions — both in the short and long term. But achieving this will
take widespread collaboration, as no company can do it alone.
Published Mar 23, 2023 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.
Everyone has a role to play in creating a more sustainable world: Dow is taking action to address the full scale of challenges, collaborating with partners to improve the industry’s processes and through innovation to help communities become more sustainable.