Prioritizing sustainable attributes in products and packaging; minimizing or eliminating the use of materials with negative health impacts and maximizing reuse of materials at end of life


Innovating and manufacturing sustainable products provides better value to our customers by minimizing harmful materials, reducing or eliminating waste at the job site and decreasing installation-related injuries and illnesses. This gives Southwire a competitive advantage.

G4-DMA ▾

Our Approach

Southwire takes pride in continually improving the value our products deliver to our customers. We know that value is about delivering more; we design our products to be safer for users—both during installation and for the people who work and live in the finished buildings—better for our planet and more cost-effective for our customers.

Product responsibility drives much of Southwire’s innovation, and many of the innovations that we brought to market in 2016 align with our product responsibility objectives to:

  • Prioritize sustainable attributes, including safety, in products and packaging;
  • Minimize or eliminate the use of materials with negative health impacts; and
  • Reuse materials at the end of a product’s useful life.
Prioritizing Sustainable Attributes

Southwire set a goal to incorporate sustainability principles, such as reusability, into at least 65 percent of all new research and development (R&D) projects by year-end 2016. When designing new products, we consider our six sustainability criteria:

  1. Minimizing the amount of resource materials, including those that impact our carbon footprint;
  2. Minimizing or avoiding the use of hazardous materials;
  3. Using as much recycled material as possible;
  4. Minimizing environmental impact during use phase of product;
  5. Making our products for renewables as cost-effective as we can; and
  6. Developing products with a smaller carbon footprint.

Each division has a development team tasked with integrating these sustainability criteria into our new products. During development, we test the products’ sustainability and capacity for responsible performance at our world-class Cofer Technology Center. Additional personnel from our environmental, legal, marketing and sourcing departments scrutinize various aspects of the product and packaging prior to public release.

Due to the success of the SIMpull™ Reel, we developed the SIMpull™ Flange in 2016 to be used with smaller wooden reels. The SIMpull™ Flange is reusable in the field and can be installed on multiple reels throughout the jobsite. Its shaftless design safely allows one person to turn a wooden reel up to 34 inches and 2000 pounds on a flat level floor. This design is a time-saving, field-installable solution that removes the need to handle heavy jack stands. Each flange rotates independently, and allows free movement of the loaded wooden reels.

Another product which exemplifies Southwire’s commitment to product responsibility is the Tappan™ Fire Alarm Cable in a SIMpull® CoilPAK™ Wire Payoff. Due to the marriage of the SIMpull® NoLube® wire jacket and innovative SIMpull® CoilPAK™ wire payoff design, physical effort associated with material handling, pulling wire out of the package, and through conduit has been reduced. The durable fully encased package also helps eliminate broken spools and protects the wire, which is manufactured in accordance with the most crucial fire safety codes and regulations.

Minimizing Materials with Negative Health Impacts

While most of Southwire’s business is in North America, we do provide products to offshore customers and serve customers that sell into overseas markets. Therefore, we monitor market trends and requirements globally. To maximize our potential customer base, reduce inventory and be ever-better stewards of the environment, we are working with our suppliers to eliminate chemicals of concern identified in European Union REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation and the European Union directive for the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).

We plan to develop insulating compound alternatives to better manage the content of our products in response to our customers’ perception of the end user effects. We continue to increase in-house formulation and compounding capability and invest in the necessary equipment needed to meet this goal.

Reusing Materials at End of Life

The Southwire Tools & Assembled Products Business Unit participates in Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs across North America. These programs seek to identify environmental costs and impacts that arise throughout a product’s life-cycle. Together with these programs, our Tools & Assembled Products Business unit developed products and packaging more compatibly designed for collection and recycling. The Product Care Association, and several other organizations collaborate with us to help manage the life-cycles of retail tools, lighting, timer, packaging and lawn and garden products.

Building on our EPR program experience, we plan to launch internal compliance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), a European end-of-life regulation. WEEE encourages the collection, treatment, recycling and recovery of electrical and electronic equipment waste. This falls in line with our longstanding tradition of going beyond regulatory requirements. The WEEE Directive will primarily influence our Tools & Assembled Products operations.

For utilities ordering materials with wood or steel reels, we established a return program. Through this program, customers have 12 months to return the reel for credit, creating an opportunity for shared financial and environmental benefits between Southwire and our customers. After the customer returns the reels, we refurbish them through a partnering vendor and ship them with new product. To see this program’s performance, see G4-EN28 below.

Our senior vice presidents of R&D and sustainability, EHS & quality ensure that product responsibility continually progresses. They update our chief executive officer every two months on the status of our current goals. We assess our product responsibility performance through consumer feedback and satisfaction, as well as sales results. We also publish progress on our sustainability goals every quarter.

To ensure the quality, integrity and transparency of our product responsibility, we committed to producing EPDs for 25 products in key markets by year-end 2018. Due to lack of customer push, this effort is on hold as we review other potential environmental and/or health declarations that may be more in line with customer needs.

Our Performance

G4-EN27 ▾
Metrics 2014 2015 2016 2016
Percent of projects incorporating sustainability principles  % of Projects 51% 46% 41% 65% (Target)
% of Spend 52% 80% 48%
G4-EN28 ▾
Metrics 2013 2014 2015 2016
Recyclable Reel Program (Energy Division): Recyclable Wooden and Steel Reels Returned* 49,710 40,711 40,481 38,833
*Includes units recycled through our reel supply partner