ESG in the cleanroom environment

What cleanroom managers need to consider when it comes to ESG

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) are factors that are considered when assessing a company's sustainability and its effects on stakeholders, such as investors. ESG is used to evaluate a company's governance policies and management of environmental and social issues to discover potential risks and possibilities.

Although important, ESG has not been taken seriously in the cleanroom. In fact, due to the nature of cleanrooms in an industry such as semiconductors, the high energy consumption in a controlled environment makes it difficult to reduce their carbon footprint. The strict regulations and standards within those cleanrooms also makes it difficult to align with ESG principles so resistance to change from within the industry is expected.

However, the global semiconductor industry has experienced considerable growth in recent years, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 7% from 2015 to 2020. The industry is expected to continue growing in the coming years. Therefore, going by these numbers, it is imperative to look at the state of ESG in the cleanroom environment and explore how companies integrate these considerations into their operations.

How can a high-tech company meet ESG standards in the cleanroom environment? Several different priorities should be considered. Energy efficiency is key: this involves implementing energy-saving measures and using renewable energy sources in the cleanroom. Water management is also essential: this means implementing water conservation practices, such as recycling and reusing water in the cleanroom. Waste management is next on the list: cleanroom managers should implement a waste management system to minimise waste, such as using recyclable materials and reducing packaging. Employee health and safety is crucial: providing a safe and healthy working environment is not the only aspect. Wearables is often overlooked, although it is a major factor to improving the health and safety aspect of ESG. Supplier management must not be forgotten either: this means evaluating and monitoring the ESG practices of suppliers to ensure they align with the company's standards.

Finally, transparency and reporting are key: this means regularly reporting on the company's ESG practices and performance to stakeholders, including investors.

One company that has taken the initiative to develop innovative solutions for the high-tech industries that meet ESG best practices in every dimension is Asiatic Fiber Corporation (AFC). AFC is an expert in producing fabrics for critical manufacturing environments such as cleanrooms.

Health and safety is paramount to ESG

An important aspect of ESG that AFC is channelling resources towards is the health and safety of employees. Many cleanrooms require strict control measures to ensure that contaminants are kept at bay, and this can include protection from hazardous chemicals and materials. Besides standard fabrics for personal protective equipment (PPE) AFC also produces a range of sustainable yarn using specialised fibres that are genetically eco-friendly, introducing new applications for a more sustainable future in cleanroom textiles.

Focusing on high-quality workplace standards, AFC fabric is more readily designed for maximum comfort using functional yarn and air permeability to improve well-being. Many garments use air permeability to let sweat dissipate more quickly, ensuring optimum comfort. Especially in cleanroom environments, workers must wear full-body protective gear, which can become uncomfortable. This is why it is important to focus on making protective garments as pleasantly feeling as possible, even when they need to be used in challenging conditions for long periods.

For example, AFC produces fabric to enhance the use of sweat dispersal technology to provide a cooling function for the wearer in a range of garments. As well as being functional in preventing electrostatic hazards, the yarn is designed to absorb sweat keeping skin dry. It is also durable enough to withstand multiple washes, reducing waste. In this way, the fabric makes a social and environmental difference to improve workers' well-being, communities, and beyond.

Finally, governance is another key area where the cleanroom environment is progressing. Companies such as AFC are leading the way in this effort. It is important for others in the industry to follow their example and prioritise ESG initiatives to create a more sustainable and responsible industry.

Overall, AFC is making major strides in adopting ESG practices in the cleanroom industry, using its enlightened point of view on the health and safety sector. It takes a holistic approach to sustainability and responsibility, from energy efficiency and sustainable materials to employee health and safety. As the semiconductor industry continues to grow and the cleanroom environment evolves, it is important that these efforts are maintained and strengthened to ensure that companies can lead the way in the adoption of sustainable and responsible practices in the manufacturing and cleanroom environments.

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