How we create more sustainable FTTH networks
If you are interested in reducing the carbon footprint of your FTTH project, we have some insights for you!
The comparison studyIn our study, we made comparisons in three pairs of solutions for fiber access, including cables and matching ducts. Each pair's capacity or fiber count was constant, whereas the dimensions and material composition differed. The calculations were performed in a Cradle-to-Gate scenario. All relevant data such as extraction of raw materials, transports, energy usage for manufacturing, and cable drums were included. All data were imported to a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) calculation tool. See the results of our study in the graph below.
192 fibers in the duct
24 fibers in the ductWe made the same comparison for distribution network solutions with a capacity of 24 fibers. We compared a 14/12 mm Microduct of virgin material coupled with a 24 fiber Micro Cable to a 7/4 mm Microduct of recycled material with a 24f Stingray. The carbon footprint of the more sustainable solution decreased by 72% in comparison.
12 fibers in the duct
Finally, we compared drop network solutions, used to connect each subscriber to the FTTH network. We compared a 14/10 mm Microduct of virgin material coupled with a 12 fiber Drop Cable to a 5/2.5 mm Microduct of recycled material with a 12f Stingray. The result of reducing the size and using recycled materials landed with a carbon footprint reduced by 78%. It is also worth mentioning that drop connections are usually the largest part of an FTTH network, which gives significant potential to impact the total carbon footprint of the project.
- Miniaturization of products
- Recycled materials
- Renewable energy in production
In this part, we go deeper into the three areas we identified as extra important in creating more sustainable FTTH networks.
Miniaturization of products
Considering the size is wise. When calculating our products' carbon footprint, it became more evident than ever that the slimness of our products matters. In recent years, technical barriers in fiber optic technology have been overcome, presenting the possibility of using slimmer fibers in our cables. Fibers with a diameter of 250 microns can be replaced with fibers of 200 microns or even 190. Slimmer fibers give slimmer cables and, in turn, the option of slimmer ducts.
The carbon footprint of slimmer fibers and cables is less. However, the major reduction for the solution comes from choosing a slimmer duct. When producing a slimmer duct, we need less material production, and with smaller sizes, transportation decreases. That the products are easier to handle and install is, of course, a welcome bonus. You can read more about why it is wise to choose slimmer products in this article.
Our comparison study clearly showed that products made from recycled or reused material have a lower carbon footprint. The virgin material used in our products accounts for a significant part of our total emissions, and replacing it with recycled material will reduce the carbon footprint. The material we use for our recycled ducts is selected to provide the same quality and life length as the virgin material. Therefore our sources of recycled materials come from:
- Post-industrial material - for example, products brought back from the field by our installers and leftover material from production.
- Post-consumer material - selected high-grade and quality-controlled post-consumer material from a single source.
Why green ducts are black
By using every single piece of leftover duct in production, whatever the color, we can give the material a new life as recycled ducts. The result of this mix of colors is a greener duct in black with a significantly lower carbon footprint than ducts made of virgin material.
Other sustainable materials
Another way to go is to replace oil-based polymers with bio-based plastic. Bio-based plastics are made from crops, a renewable resource, whereas oil-based plastics are made from non-renewable fossil fuels. The production of bio-based plastics also results in lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to oil-based plastics. This is because bio-based plastics use less energy during production, and the feedstocks absorb carbon dioxide during growth. The products can, therefore, even serve as storage for carbon dioxide giving a negative carbon footprint.
Renewable energy in production
Transitioning to renewable energy is vital for reducing the environmental impact of our production facilities. We proudly announce that all three European production sites in Sweden, Austria, and the Netherlands, run on renewable energy. The majority is hydropower and wind energy, but the mix also includes solar and bioenergy.