June 2, 2022
It’s Not Easy Being Green
Sunday June 5 is World Environment Day. This seems an appropriate time to reflect on the sustainability conversation that is gaining momentum across the media tech sector.
Amino and its parent company, Aferian PLC, have always complied with regulatory standards as they have been defined. However, long term goals for a reduced carbon footprint, for both Amino and it’s supply chain, require dedication and persistence. Sustainability often requires a new mindset.
Amino’s goal is to work with a supply chain that is sustainable at every stage. It can be difficult to find suppliers who are not only using recycled materials, but track and trace the use of materials back to the source. What does that mean?
There are many details to be considered: use of recycled plastic or paper instead of plastic, type of glue being used, transport methods. Which suppliers are willing to be audited for compliance? If they are part of a conglomerate, will the parent company also be willing to be audited? And are they as committed to sustainable manufacturing processes as Amino’s business partner?
The use of recycled plastics for devices and accessories is an obvious step in the road to sustainability. However, to do this and retain the quality for which Amino is renown requires considerable effort and expertise. When manufacturing electronics, the UL94 V-0 standard for safety of flammability of plastic material for parts in devices, dictates the use of fire-retardant materials. This limits the percentage of recycled materials which may be safely used. Our latest R100 series device will use 85% recycled material to maintain the high safety standards Amino have always insisted upon, while we continue to investigate materials which will allow this to be further increased.
To reach a high percentage of recycled materials in the device it is essential to use recycled materials for all surfaces rather than just those in the chassis which are unseen by the consumer. That dictates that a high-quality surface finish can be achieved while using recycled materials where consistency of the source plastics is not as high as with virgin material. Amino have worked closely with our manufacturing experts to specify surface finishes which work best with recycled materials while still creating a high-quality product. This does not need to be a compromise, rather it is a case of understanding your materials and their capabilities.
It would be easy to focus on the set-top box as the largest component where injection molded plastics are used. But Amino have chosen to demand these standards of all our suppliers. Our next generation of products will launch with remote controls (RCUs) using 100% recycled plastics. We are also applying the same high standards to the packaging of RCUs removing the plastics and insisting on paper which again is easily recycled by the consumer in almost every market where Amino sell.
Amino has always tried to make its packaging as small as possible. With the launch of Amino’s H-series and R-series devices Amino is increasing the amount of recycled and recyclable packaging while also reducing the number of inserts in each box. Rather than print set-up and user guides, Amino will only include the safety details necessary to comply with regional regulatory requirements. The safely leaflet will include a QR code and URL indicating where relevant collaterals can be found online. Where we use printed materials, we are transitioning to plant-based inks and glues rather than the petrochemical-based alternative used in the past.
In addition to the set-top box itself, a typical box includes the appropriate remote control and cables. Cables were traditionally wrapped in plastic bags which while recyclable, may not be easily recycled by consumers and often end up in landfills. Amino have looked at several solutions including biodegradable plastic bags. We have selected an innovative solution using paper ‘ties’ to secure the cables. This gives us the characteristics we need in packaging, is easy to recycle and is the most cost-effective approach.
It is interesting to note the cost associated with adopting sustainable processes. There are many technologies and solutions which improve the sustainability of our business. Amino have found that it is possible to introduce meaningful improvements to our products while maintaining value for our customers. For example, the use of recycled packaging adds approximately 8% to Amino’s packaging cost. As technology improves and becomes more widely adopted, we believe this will decrease. By the end of 2022, all of Amino’s packaging will be recycled and recyclable.
An area of ongoing focus is energy. Power consumption is tightly tied to carbon emission. One kilowatt hour produces approximately one pound of carbon dioxide. All Amino set top box devices sold globally comply with European Directive 2009/125/EC. We are also members of the Voluntary Industry Agreement to improve the energy consumption of Complex Set Top Boxes within the EU. The primary objective of the Voluntary Agreement is to continue improvements in the energy efficiency of set-top boxes without jeopardizing their intended uses and functionalities.
Amino is persistently working to balance updated features with declining power consumption. Today, Amino’s Kamai 7X consumes approximately 3.6 watts per hour when active and .42 watts per hour when in standby mode (down from 1 watt per hour for standby mode in 2013). For point of comparison, a laptop that is turned off but charging the battery uses approximately 63 watts per hour.
We are committed to delivering environmentally sustainable products. Our focus on software products that extend the life and improve remote management of deployed devices should not be ignored. Amino’s cloud-based management platform helps service providers remotely update firmware and apps while also helping customer service agents resolve support issues without sending a technician, in a truck, to the consumer home. Amino’s upcycling capabilities have helped service providers extend the life of existing devices by updating the device platform software. In managing and extend the device lifecycle, Amino helps to keep devices in use rather than in landfills.
Amino is committed to providing environmentally sustainable products. We are investigating adoption of circular economy business models. It is not easy being green, but Amino continues to investigate and adopt options to build a culture of sustainability. After all, there is only one earth.