1st February 2023
From take, make, waste to reduce, reuse, recycle
Today’s economic model is organised along a straight line. Resources are taken from the earth, manufactured into products, which are then discarded. The whole process can be summarized as ‘take, make, waste’. This model is not only inefficient, it’s also unsustainable. Eventually, we’ll run out of resources to take. An alternative to this wasteful model is a more circular approach. Instead of ‘take, make, waste’, the circular model aims for the well-known ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ saying, but on an industrial level. The goal of this model is that minimal resources are lost and discarded. Instead, once a product reaches its final stage of life, it’s reused instead of getting discarded.
Thermo King has long been committed to sustainability. In 2017, the Galway plant, our oldest European factory, became fully carbon neutral. This means 230 million tonnes less waste in landfills per year. Everything in Galway is either recyclable or made to last. That’s not only good for the environment, but also for the bottom line. The switch from wooden to steel pallets, for example, saves the facility over one million euros per year. “Measures implemented at Galway have been effective and show that environmental sustainability is the right call for everyone, including our bottom line,” says the local operations director at Thermo King.
Waste not, want not
Our push for sustainability doesn’t stop at the Galway plant: “The work doesn’t stop just because we’ve reached our zero waste to landfill goal. This is an ongoing process. We continue to look for alternative recycling methods and opportunities to further reduce our impact on the environment,” he says. The next step in Thermo King’s push for sustainability is the introduction of a Remanufactured Parts program.
What does that look like, exactly? Well, let’s have a closer look at the lifecycle of a Thermo King part under this new program. The first two years after purchase, a Thermo King part is covered by a full warranty. If anything goes wrong, the client gets a complete replacement. Over the course of a part’s life, regular maintenance is needed. The amount needed varies per part. Some technology needs replacement instead of maintenance, and some parts, like batteries are consumed entirely.
The newly introduced Remanufactured Parts programs means that, for controllers, at the end of the life cycle – or in the event of a breakdown – the controller is taken apart and the components that can be reused are salvaged. From these components, new, fully functional controllers are re-manufactured. These are put through rigorous tests to ensure the same quality as original, factory made controllers. If a part does report a failure, data is collected and sent to the Thermo King Aftermarket team to learn from and improve the process.
The dealers’ response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive. Not only does the program ensure a significant reduction in waste, our dealers like the flexibility the program offers! Customers that don’t want to invest a great amount of money into one of their older cooling units will still have access to more affordable, genuine Thermo King controllers. It also helped ensure the availability of controllers during the recent semiconductor shortage, a walking testament to the wastefulness of the current linear economy.
And the future?
As a brand in the Trane Technologies family, Thermo King is committed to a more green and sustainable future. They have joined Trane Technologies in their Gigaton Challenge, which aims to reduce one billion metric tons of their customer’s footprint by 2030. The remanufactured parts program is still young and at present only covers controllers. But the program is full of ambition and looks to grow! Soon, it will be expanded to also include compressors, demonstrating Thermo King’s dedication to a more sustainable, circular economy!