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Ross Video Team Feb 22, 2021

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Living Live Podcast: Green Practices and Environmental Initiatives in Broadcast


Across the world, efforts to take better care of our shared environment and to undo some of the damage that human industrialization and advancement have caused are underway – and Ross Video is getting in on the act.

On this episode of Ross Video’s Living Live! podcast, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Services Jeff Poapst, joined host Tyler Kern to dive into environmental initiatives, green practices, sustainability efforts and more helping to shape our collective future.

Poapst said he first had his eyes opened to the impact we’re having on the environment decades ago.
“Back when I was in high school – and that was around the first oil shock or right after that – I developed a little bit of an interest in sustainable energy,” he said. “I did some research and a couple of high school projects on nuclear energy and wind. … It’s come a long way since then.”

However, the conversation has accelerated over the past decade, and Poapst and Ross Video believe it’s time for the entire broadcast industry to act and put its weight behind influencing our shared environment for the better.

In particular, Ross is working to build on a legacy of more than a decade of sustainability initiatives, including the development of products with smaller footprints, thorough management of the company’s supply chain and local sourcing, a switch to recyclable packaging, and more.

AUTHOR: Tyler Kern
CONTRIBUTORS: Jeff Poapst

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Podcast Transcript

 

Tyler Kern:

Climate change is a crucial issue that affects all of us and it's going to require everyone to examine their lives and determine where they can make a difference. And joining me today to talk about this issue and the measures Ross Video is taking to go green is Jeff Poapst. He is the Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Services at Ross Video Limited. Jeff, thank you so much for being here.

Jeff Poapst:

Well, thank you, Tyler.

Tyler Kern:

Well, I'm excited to dive into this topic with you because it is one that is extremely important. We're going to talk a little bit more about what Ross is doing here in just a moment. But it feels like for most people, Jeff, that there is a moment or an event or a time in their life that causes them to think more seriously about climate change. Do you have a moment like that or a story that you can share with us?

Jeff Poapst:

I might, but it's going to be a little disturbing that it's back in the '70s of all things. Back when I was in high school, we developed a little bit of an interest, that was around the first oil shock, right after that, developed a little interest in sustainable energy, did some research at the time, a couple of high school projects on nuclear energy and wind and how you can generate wind at a home wind farm if you want it to. So that's a long time ago and it's come a long way since then.

Tyler Kern:

It really has come a long way since then. And a lot of things have happened. Some measures have been taken, some have not. So what makes now the right time to really have a good formal discussion about green initiatives and climate change?

Jeff Poapst:

There's a moment. There's significant science developed in the last 20 years to understand weather and climate and the differences between the two and where this is all going. And now is the right time, because of Ross Video and our broadcast industry as a whole can influence society as leaders and contribute to that groundswell of improvement. People are rallying around in a lot of places in the world, not everywhere, rallying around the Paris Agreement, rallying around the need to get our carbon footprint down and to improve our situation and keep our climate a little bit less effected by carbon. We're all trying to keep that temperature rise down.

Tyler Kern:

Absolutely. Absolutely, and I think one of the things that that stands out is it's incumbent on everyone to do their part. I think there's a tendency for people to think, "Oh, I'm just one person," or, "We're just this company." How much of a difference can we really make?" But really that's where it all starts, is everyone realizing, "Here's the area where I can make a difference," and then taking that and running with it, right?

Jeff Poapst:

That's exactly right. And if you're wondering how much difference an individual can make or a family can make, there are carbon calculators easily available all over the web. You can use them. They're simple, straightforward. And I got back into this a few years ago, and after hearing that the average carbon footprint for the household in, say, Europe is about five tons a year, we have to get down to two tons a year to limit our temperature rises. Came back and calculated mine and my wife's, we were up in the 20s and I thought, "That's a little high." In North America, it's a little different society, a little different consumption patterns, and we can certainly improve.

Tyler Kern:

Certainly, certainly. And I think that's the case for everybody. There's things that we can all be doing to do a better job in this regard. And so what measures is Ross Video taking in this endeavor to go green as a company? What sorts of things is Ross Video doing to make a difference in this regard.

Jeff Poapst:

Here at Ross Video, we've been going down this road for probably 12 or 13 years. It started with products initially, and we've continued to try to develop products that have a smaller footprint, physical footprint, smaller power consumption, more efficient, more effective. And that progresses every year and we invest a lot in R&D to achieve those ends, but we also try to manage our supply chain. Anything that's big and heavy or bulky costs money and takes energy to ship, and so we source most of our metal and all of our packaging locally. That helps a little bit. We switched over to completely recyclable packaging, primarily corrugated, got to be 12 years ago now. So we've been doing all of these things and then slowly improving our facilities, going to zero VOC paints, flat panel lighting in our facilities, and some of these things all help a little bit.

Jeff Poapst:

And now we can go a little farther. We're planning a factory expansion, and that's a fairly major commitment. The factory is something we're going to use for 20 or 30 years, and this expansion is our chance to really make the building, what we're going for is net zero carbon. We want to take this opportunity of the expansion to drive a net zero carbon business.

Tyler Kern:

That's fantastic. And I can't wait to see and to learn more about that facility and how Ross Video is going to go about doing that. And one of the things about climate change is that it's been a consistent issue on our radar just now for so long, and there can be other issues that pop up and take some attention away from this. But this really is maybe the most pressing and important issue of our time and the most important thing that we can be thinking about talking about. And so these initiatives by Ross aren't just lip service to something because it's a fad of the day. This is really a big undertaking, building a new facility like this, and it is because of the size of the issue that this really is as we talk about climate change and the effects of it. It's a massive issue that's been going on for so long and sometimes our attention gets diverted. But what Ross is doing really is maybe a flag in the ground to say, "Hey, this is a very big issue that Ross is taking seriously."

Jeff Poapst:

You're exactly right, Tyler. And this is a topic we could talk about this for days in one flavor or another. But unlike some of the urgent issues of the day, unlike technology change and some of these things, climate and its effect on human habitation, this is a multi-generational problem. This is something that our commitment to climate improvement and sustainability has to survive changes of government. It's got to survive the four year cycle that we're all prone to. And that's the approach we've taken here at Ross. So we've been working on this at a low level for 12 or 14 years, but now it's time to take it to the next level. We have an opportunity now with factory expansion. There's a couple of other things we're doing in the next year or so, and these are steps that have already been taken by a number of other companies around the world.

Jeff Poapst:

And that is a more detailed measurement of our carbon footprint and more explicit objective setting as interim objectives on our way to net zero as a company. Net zero as a whole company is going to take some time. Net zero as a factory is something that we can achieve we think in the next three to five years. But all of this takes concerted effort, disciplined effort over a long period of time, as you said.

Tyler Kern:

I think one of the complicating things about climate change and about this conversation is there's a lot of misinformation out there. So help direct people, and maybe, do you have any suggestions for people who want to vet their sources, want to trust what they're reading, because right now, it's so difficult to know is, what I'm reading true? Is it not? What advice do you have for people out there who want the truth and want to know that what they're reading is genuine and real, but they have to sift through so much stuff out there these days?

Jeff Poapst:

That's certainly a challenge. There's a number of really good sources around. What you might want to do, if you're uncertain about the science is crosscheck it a little bit. And I'll give you an example I saw a few years ago. Social media is not maybe the ideal source of accurate information. When a family friend posted something about volcanic activity being the source of carbon in our atmosphere, and she was citing a PhD from Australia. And when I looked into it, you have to look at his credentials and his source. The claims he was making didn't line up with the U.S. Geological Survey at all. And then when I looked at this PhD gentlemen, found out he was employed, he's on the board of directors for two very large Australian coal companies. Didn't pan out.

Jeff Poapst:

So the information is all there. You've got to do your homework. Look at it with a degree of skepticism, I guess. But there are a number of really good organizations springing up around the world supporting this working on sustainability climate commitments around the Paris Agreement, around a circular economy, which is the next step, how to reuse pretty much everything that we can and eliminate waste. So beyond that, websites do change, sources of information do change. I can't point to any particular specific ones at this point.

Tyler Kern:

Right, but I think the point that you made just about vetting sources and not just taking everything at face value but actually doing your due diligence to make sure that what you're sharing and what you are reading is in fact backed up by the science and backed up by other sources that can verify it, I think is an important thing in today's day and age. Because there can be so much misinformation, and so many people can have ulterior motives, especially when it comes to this conversation about climate change when there are big interests involved, whether it's oil and gas or the coal industry, things along those lines. A lot of different people have a vested interest in this conversation and the way it goes.

Jeff Poapst:

You're exactly right. And the science is, you can say on one hand the science is the science. It points to carbon content in our atmosphere as the major contributor to global warming. On the other hand, there's pseudoscience or there are scientific attempts to mitigate some of the damage using fossil fuels. One of the terms I heard a few years ago was clean coal. There isn't clean coal. There are a couple of processes to liquefy coal, but they are in fact net, when you do the full analysis of the whole process, they actually add more carbon to the atmosphere than just burning coal plain. So all of this takes some research, but the information is there. It can be deceptive though.

Tyler Kern:

As you cast your vision forward, what do you hope Ross Video looks like as a company in disregard 10, 15, 20 years down the road? What are the longterm goals? And then what sorts of things are being put in place now to help you reach those goals in the future?

Jeff Poapst:

That's an interesting question. Like anybody, we're looking at things in two and three and five year windows around planning equipment and planning processes. But a facility, a facility expansion like we're doing causes us to be able to think in 20 years slices. More than that, the business is changing. Broadcast is changing. We have a team of people around the world that travel to customer sites and commissioning and install our equipment, and then train our customers on use of that equipment. We have been migrating that service over the past four years such that we can do almost all of that remotely now. If a customer is willing and enabled to do this, we don't have to fly a staff member in to install the equipment. We don't have to fly somebody in to train their staff, and stay in a hotel and all of that.

Jeff Poapst:

So, again, that can reduce the footprint. It makes things a little simpler. We don't lose time in an airplane and we don't tie people up for quite so long. Some customers are happy to have that service. It's being really great in the pandemic. We can pivot to this kind of delivery. But that's just an example in time. I think, as we see communications technologies get a little bit better, as we see people get more and more comfortable with this kind of work, working using whatever platform you choose to work through video link, we're going to see more and more of this in society. And so if we then, to your question, if we look forward in 20 and 30 and 50 years, we probably will see less travel. It'll be more relaxed travel.

Jeff Poapst:

The world should change a little bit more. There's already a number of countries and states that have committed to phasing out fossil fuel powered cars. That's going to persist. Those kind of fundamental changes will change our society and we'll see probably gas stations reduce and disappear in time. Some of these major, major changes will change society in ways that I'm no expert so predicting that is a bit of a challenge. But less travel, more telecommunications, more video is how I would expect this to happen.

Tyler Kern:

Well, again, as we started off the conversation, it takes everybody doing their part in understanding where they can have an influence and have an impact. And so it's been fantastic to get to learn a little bit more about the work that Ross Video is doing in this area. And so, Jeff Poapst, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Services at Ross Video Limited. Jeff, thank you so much for joining us today.

Jeff Poapst:

You're quite welcome, Tyler.

Tyler Kern:

And everyone, thank you for tuning into this episode. We appreciate it very much. Of course, we'll be back soon with more from Ross Video, but until then, I've been your host today, Tyler Kern. Thanks for watching.

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