Monday, August 17, 2009

STMicro on corporate responsibility -- Part 2

Friends, here's the second and concluding part of my discussion with Vivek Sharma, Director, India Design Center, and Vice President, Emerging Market Regions, STMicroelectronics.
Here, we have discussed how the company's corporate social responsibility has helped ST reduce greenhouse gases/reducing carbon footprint/CO2 emissions, handling e-waste and chemicals, and the company's success in developing 'greener and cleaner' supply chains.

Reducing greenhouse gases, etc.
First, How has this initiative helped reduce greenhouse gases/reducing carbon footprint/CO2 emissions?

Sharma said: "This Initiative has helped us in reducing greenhouse gases/ reducing carbon foot print/CO2 emissions. Although the semiconductor industry makes a relatively small contribution to climate change compared to many other industries, ST integrated a formal, structured approach to reducing its environmental footprint in the early 1990s.

"Working with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) at that time helped us to define the areas for action and improvement relating to CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases (GHG); we called the resulting 10-part plan our ‘Environmental Decalogue’.

"Some of the key strategies are constant dedication to reducing our own environmental impact by reducing our consumption of resources such as energy and water and our net emissions of greenhouse gases, working with our suppliers and other stakeholders to share our vast experience and encourage best practices, developing advanced devices that minimize the power consumed in electronic equipment.

"Power-conscious design has two aspects: reduction of energy consumption in the chip itself and contribution to energy saving in the end application, such as home appliances or lighting."

Some key highlights:
* A reduction in energy consumption per unit by 5 percent compared to 2007. This consumption now represents around 49% of its 1994 level, meaning that the energy saved each year is equivalent to the consumption of a town of 400,000 people;
* Outstanding progress in the reduction of CO2 emissions, which are now represent only 68% of what they were in 2005 in absolute value, despite a 4 percent increase in production volume over the same period.

Handling e-waste and chemicals
Since 1993, ST has been working on programs to reduce its hazardous substances consumption and improve the resulting waste treatment. "The evolution of our Decalogue helped us to successfully challenge our performance in these areas. Thus we have been reducing our chemical consumption by more than 5 percent a year, on average, since 1998," added Sharma.

Through corporate and local chemical saving plans, many initiatives have been implemented and shared across ST to outperform this goal, such as substitution of the most hazardous substances, chemical recycling, process optimization or hardware modification to dilute chemicals and lower their flow rates. In 2008, a focus was given to tend to the elimination of PFOs compounds in Front-end and the conversion to halogen free materials in back-end applications.

Impact on greener, cleaner products
According to him, for a semicondcuctor company, there are three key areas for directly contributing towards greener and cleaner environment.

First, to reduce consumption and waste. This has been already highlighted in terms of reduction of energy usage, CO2 emissions, chemical usage, eco footprint, etc.

ST intends to become environmentally neutral by 2012 utilizing other mechanisms like plating trees, using non conventional energy sources etc. as well to neutralize even the reduced levels of environment impact.

Second, to design products which help in reducing the energy consumption of end products. ST has already identified 4 fields where semiconductor components can help: stand-by, lighting, electric enginers, airconditioning and heating.

For example, ST’s green products like ST's microcontroller-based lamp ballast reduces the energy consumption by as much as 80 percent by using high-performing switching components to minimize the power losses. ST’s patented sensorless motor controller with inverter driving allows a microcontroller to control the frequency and voltage of the power supplied to the motor.

In white goods appliances and air-conditioning systems, this approach delivers real world savings of 30 percent compared to existing solutions. ST’s dedicated solution for refrigerators integrates full digital temperature regulation that helps maintain the internal temperature more accurately for better food preservation while saving power. With the incorporation of “start&stop” systems in cars, 15 percent of fuel can be saved.

Third, to design products which inherently consume less power. As an example, chips designed on our latest 45nm Low Power platform can have significant less power consumption compared to the standard platforms depending upon the configuration of the chip.

Developing greener, cleaner supply chains
Finally, how successful has ST been in developing 'greener and cleaner' supply chains?

According to Sharma, ST, being a full member of the EICC (Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition), has applied its Code of Conduct to the operations and extended the proposal to suppliers and subcontractors. It decided to get involved in the EICC, to participate to a standardized approach to Corporate Responsibility management within the electronic industry supply chain.

"ST’s Corporate Responsibility department is responsible for deploying the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) program. To manage the suppliers and subcontractors involvement in this initiative, it works in collaboration with the Purchasing and Sourcing department which has created a new central role in 2008 to manage the Quality and Sustainable Excellence programs.

"As we are among the first companies to launch this phase at the supply chain level, we decided to adopt a temperate approach. For the moment, our objective is to promote the EICC initiative rather than imposing it. Purchasing and Sourcing department managers have spent several months negotiating with each company to agree on subscribing to E-TASC and filling in the questionnaire for their main sites, and then to share their Corporate Responsibility performance.

"The spirit of the approach is to explain that as it is an industry initiative, if they complete the SAQ once, they will be able to share their results with other customers that might be EICC members too.

"In 2009, we will keep on inviting new companies to complete their SAQ and integrate these specific criteria in our suppliers /subcontractors performance evaluation tools (SPE)," he concluded.

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