Our sustainability leadership is rooted in our enterprise-wide commitment to operational efficiency and environmental stewardship. As our company grows, entering new industries and geographies, minimizing the impact of our own operations is increasingly important.
Ecolab's Five-Year Global Reduction Goals
In 2013, we publicly announced new goals to reduce our environmental impact over five years using our 2012 metrics as an operational baseline. Setting these initial goals was an important step toward integrating our sustainability strategies across the Ecolab, Nalco and Nalco Champion businesses.
After making great progress on these goals in 2013, we announced a set of more aggressive goals to achieve a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a 20 percent reduction in water use and a 25 percent reduction in wastewater discharge and solid waste, measured by 2017 on an intensity per million dollars in sales basis. These aggressive sustainability targets aligned to our broader corporate 2020 business strategy which set a long-term path toward significant operational improvements. We're proud of the improvements we have made to date, and we're excited to embark on an intentional path that will further our leadership as a responsible global enterprise.
Our Environmental Performance
- Reduced GHG emissions 0.8%
- Reduced total water usage 0.9%
- Reduced effluent discharge 4.1%
In 2013, we made meaningful progress toward our environmental goals, reducing water use, GHG emissions and effluent discharge across our global operations as a combined company. One-time construction and integration-related events at three of our facilities led to a 25 percent increase in waste disposal. Without these one-time events, our waste intensity decreased by 15 percent. We adjusted our baseline measurements to reflect the complete integration of Nalco and Champion Technologies.
Our 2013 achievements are the result of an enterprise- and facility-level commitment to increasing the efficiency of our operations through action and investments that result in greater environmental stewardship. Examples of plant-specific projects in 2013 include the following:
- Our Clearing, Ill., plant implemented a process and utility water optimization program that resulted in nearly 10 million gallons of water savings.
- Our facility in Konnagar, India, reduced water use from 25,000 cubic meters in 2012 to 18,000 cubic meters in 2013 through several cycle-time reduction projects.
- Our Lerma, Mexico, plant installed reverse osmosis technology in its deionized water plant, resulting in 200,000 gallons of water savings (and 25,000 kWh of energy savings)
- Our Greensboro, N.C., plant reduced effluent discharge by 22,000 cubic meters through a leak-reduction program.
Commitment to Continuous Improvement
- Our Garyville, La., plant implemented a latex steam injection process that saved more than 1 million kWh in natural gas, avoiding more than 750 tCO2e in emissions.
- In Ellwood City, Pa., we replaced our south plant boiler's economizer and updated area heaters, resulting in 615,000 kWh/year energy savings and 420 tCO2e savings.
- Our plant in Kwinana, Australia, enhanced control of its cooling tower with the installation of a pump controlled by the plant's chillers. An air bubbler and a glycol pump were installed to better optimize the plant's cooling system. These upgrades resulted in a 90,000 kWh/year energy savings and 72 tCO2e savings.
We apply the same continuous improvement model we use with our customers to improve our own operations. Through our Create & Maintain Value (CMV) program, we employ our expertise and technology to save water, energy and wastewater and prolong equipment life throughout our facilities.
In 2013, Ecolab completed 42 capital expenditure and CMV projects at 25 manufacturing plants around the world to improve the efficiency of our operations. Just as our programs result in exponential value to customers, these projects resulted in meaningful performance, efficiency, and water, energy and waste reductions across our operations and will contribute to our ongoing efforts.
Operational Waste Management & Recycling Programs
Ecolab’s recycling activities vary across our plants, facilities and corporate centers. At many of our plants, we have programs in place that aim to recycle as much material, process, corrugated packaging and business waste as possible. We collect, compact and bundle:
- Corrugated packaging waste
- Shrink wrap and plastic strapping from suppliers
- Scrap and drop-off stainless steel from our metal shop operations
- As much of the plastic and metal parts, wire harnesses that are returned to the site from field operations as possible
We then send these materials to a local recycler for processing.
We also have programs in place to manage our business and office waste streams. We collect and separate aluminum drink cans, plastic drink bottles and office paper, working with a local recoiling firm to collect and process these recyclable materials. In addition, we collect, sort and through a third-party vendor, recycle batteries and electronics, including used batteries of all types and sizes (such as those use in dispensers in the field), fluorescent light bulbs, electronic PC boards and other computer equipment.
Ecolab facilities implement waste management programs to address production, packaging and business waste management and recycling. One example is our Ellwood City plant. The plant’s operations are led by a cross-functional Material Utilization Team, charged with a dual objective of achieving financial and environmental goals, resulting in a significant reduction in effluent water.
The Ellwood City plant’s Liquid Blend Department manufactures more than 400 different formulations. The batch processing generates residual product and wash-out water that must be shipped to off-site treatment facilities. Washings of vessels, lines and pumps is required multiple times daily in each blending vessel. The team developed a plan to reduce the amount of residual product and wasted wash water by a unique collection method at the end of the packaging process, allowing for wash water to be reworked into subsequent batches.
The program, appropriately named WOW (Wash Out Water), has far exceeded the plant’s initial goals, collecting more than 50,000 gallons of vessel wash-out waste and approximately 110,000 pounds of residual raw material each month, and reworking it back into the individual processes, resulting in savings of $420,000.
In 2015, Ecolab will be launching a chemical waste management program that covers global facilities where waste is generated. All waste disposal, nonhazardous and hazardous, must adhere to this policy. All Ecolab sites should select waste vendors that meet given criteria. Criteria include, but are not limited to, ethical, environmentally conscious and economical disposal techniques. Each waste vendor or disposal site must be approved.
Operational Excellence at our Corporate Centers
Ecolab’s corporate centers in Naperville, Ill., and Eagan, Minn., are LEED-EB Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED-EB designation is awarded to "existing buildings" that have been retrofitted to meet LEED standards.
At our 25-year-old facility in Naperville, we took a number of steps to make the facility more efficient, including using our 3D TRASAR® automation technology to manage the boilers and cooling towers and replacing lighting and plumbing fixtures with new and more efficient ones. The facility also utilized the company’s HVAC Performance Services for energy savings and improved indoor air quality and offered employees non-conventional commuting options. The facility has previously earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's prestigious ENERGY STAR®, which signifies that the building performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency.
Ecolab’s corporate Research, Development and Engineering facilities on the company's Allan L. Schuman Campus in Eagan, Minn., also have been awarded LEED-EB Gold Certification.
The LEED-EB Gold certification process began in 2005 during reconstruction of the Schuman campus and included:
- Use of efficient lighting fixtures, occupancy sensors and dual-level switching to conserve energy
- A heat recovery system in the labs that captures heat and humidity exhaust to warm incoming air within the ventilation system
- Use of Low-VOC-emitting materials (paint, carpets, ceiling tiles, fabrics and carpet backers)
- Salvage and reuse of materials such as rubber flooring, new ceiling tiles, wall fabrics, glass tile, carpet backers, interior oak doors, aluminum windows, gypsum wallboard, acoustical ceiling panels and toilet partitions during reconstruction
- Expansion of the recycling program to significantly increase the amount of waste recycled
In addition, during and after construction, Ecolab sought to preserve the surrounding natural environment of the Allan L. Schuman Campus, which includes wooded stands of trees and prairie grass. The company engaged the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to develop a forestry and wildlife stewardship plan.
For more information on the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED certification, visit www.usgbc.org.
For more information about ENERGY STAR, visit www.energystar.gov/buildings.
Additional information about our environmental performance is available in the GRI Index 2013 Corporate Sustainability Report.