Prysmian helps make builders’ activities more sustainable

15/05/2024 - 10:00 AM

In the construction sector, similarly to other fields, sustainability issues are increasingly on the agenda, and manufacturers of building materials are developing new, more environmentally friendly and longer-lasting products than before. The ECO CABLE initiative from the cable manufacturer Prysmian also helps builders to make a more environmentally conscious choice than before – to choose cables that are durable but also with a lower environmental impact.

“Cables are installed for years and therefore made to last. ECO CABLE is our new and transparent concept for measuring and evaluating the environmental impact of cables – it is our promise to offer a range of cables that have a lower environmental impact,” explains Kadri Armas, Marketing Manager at Prysmian Baltics.

She adds that the company has set a goal to ensure the sustainability of its processes and protect the environment. One of the outputs is ECO CABLE, which uses measurable and internationally recognised assessment criteria to determine the environmental impact of cables. The label is provided to cables that achieve a sufficiently high total score in relation to the six assessment criteria, ranging from the carbon footprint and environmental friendliness of materials to the efficiency of cables.

First, the carbon footprint of the cable is calculated using the “cradle-to-gate” method, and thereafter it is combined with other parameters to achieve a full “cradle-to-grave” carbon footprint. Secondly, ECO CABLE products must be free of substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic for reproduction, or hazardous to the environment. The materials used in the cables must be potentially recyclable or the products themselves must be potentially fully recyclable. Fourthly, the presence of recycled material in a cable is determined, which confirms that the cable contains recycled material both purchased from external suppliers and reused by Prysmian itself. The environmental benefits of low CO2 products, CPR-compliant cables and cables used for green energy sources are also important. And lastly, the transmission efficiency of the cable is calculated, because the more efficient the cable transmission, the more sustainable its performance.

One of the exciting challenges is the production of plastic coatings from recycled materials for the mechanical protection of cable cores. “We have been using recycled plastics in our products since the middle of last year, and their proportion is gradually increasing. We get the material from different manufacturers, but getting them approved is complicated and takes time because we are careful and test their quality and stability very thoroughly,” explains Erkki Keering, Prysmian’s chief engineer. Sources of recycled plastic and where the material has been used in the past are also important factors, he said.

Prysmian mainly buys its recycled plastic from Scandinavian producers, who are constantly given feedback to achieve maximum quality. Cooperation is also being developed with local recycling service providers in Estonia. “The requirements for our products are significantly higher than the established standards, so the control is very strict. We see that the test results of the materials from the suppliers we have chosen are very positive,” says Keering. He adds that Prysmian’s products are not made 100% from recycled plastic but only to a certain extent to ensure a high-quality product, both in terms of product parameters and visual appearance.

Work is underway on the development of an Environmental Product Declaration of the environmental impact of the products

In the near future, Prysmian, like other sustainable construction companies, will start offering its customers the possibility of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), i.e., in addition to a certified environmental management system, the company will also assess the environmental impact of its products. “The goal is to provide transparent information on the environmental impact of a product throughout the life cycle of the product. Its presence shows that the product really does meet all the required ISO standards and other environmental requirements,” explains Product Manager Raigo Viltrop.

The Environmental Product Declaration shows that both Prysmian as a manufacturer and their customers are environmentally responsible and committed. This increases the value of companies in the eyes of both consumers and the general public through increased credibility. Armas adds that Environmental Product Declarations are also becoming increasingly important for participants in tenders, and in some projects, it is not even possible to take part in a tender without an EPD. Therefore, declarations are very important to remain competitive in the construction industry.

The Environmental Product Declaration meets the requirements of ISO 14025. The EPD provides detailed information on the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to the end-of-life disposal of the product. During the preparation of the declaration, it is possible to identify the stages of the life cycle of the product where the product has the greatest impact on the environment and find ways to reduce the impact and improve the product. It also provides an opportunity to compare products on the market based on their environmental impact.

The EPD has become a prerequisite for entering the markets of several countries, and construction products provided with an EPD will in turn help to earn points towards, for example, BREEAM and LEED certification. In Estonia, too, construction companies show an ever-increasing preference for materials with an Environmental Product Declaration.

A major role in making electricity generation clean

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. The first and most important objective is to make electricity generation clean, i.e., to switch to energy from renewable energy sources. For its part, Prysmian is committed to modernising energy transmission and distribution as well as telecommunication infrastructure.

“Our sustainability policy provides guidelines for all companies and activities of the group. Our Sustainability Scorecard consists of 11 indicators that are clear, measurable and against which we benchmark our progress each year to ensure continuous improvement,” says Armas. “The activities of the group have three key dimensions: to ensure economic sustainability we offer affordable energy and communication upgrades and infrastructure. Environmental sustainability means that we seek a responsible and sustainable supply chain. In terms of social sustainability, we contribute to the development of both people and communities.”

In 2023, Prysmian Group Baltics was awarded the GOLD LEVEL quality label of the Responsible Business Forum (RBF) Index. The index assessment takes into account the principles of the UN Global Compact, the ESG framework for assessment and the UN sustainable development goals.

Read more about Prysmian’s sustainability steps.


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