Protecting vital resources is core to our purpose. We promote environmental stewardship through customer solutions and our own operations. We set goals and hold ourselves accountable for continuous operational improvements.
Ecolab's Five-Year Global Reduction Goals
We take the efficiency of our internal operations very seriously. To ensure we continue to reduce our own internal footprint, we set new corporate environmental reduction targets in 2013 for energy, emissions, water, waste and wastewater.
Using the company’s 2012 metrics as an operational baseline, we are tracking our progress against a set of five-year global reduction goals, measured by intensity per million dollars in sales.
Our Environmental Performance
Ecolab pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 20 percent per dollar of sales by the end of 2012 (from a 2006 baseline). At the close of 2012, we exceeded our goal by achieving a 22.4 percent reduction, 112 percent of the stated goal within the time frame. This amount translates to an absolute global GHG emissions reduction of more than 12.5 percent.
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) acknowledged these efforts by naming Ecolab to its 2013 Carbon Performance Leadership Index and 2013 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index.
Taking Action for Improvement
Our combined team of more than 24,900 sales-and-service representatives delivers a broad range of solutions that help provide clean water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments on a global scale.
One way we help customers conserve resources and achieve their own sustainability goals is through our Create & Maintain Value (CMV) program, an innovative service model we employ to save water, energy and wastewater, and prolong equipment life. We are working to introduce the program to all of our global facilities, concentrating first on the plants where we can have the most impact.
Our most water-intensive facility, our Clearing, Ill., plant, was identified to implement a CMV project in 2012. Through best practices and metrics to drive efficiency, the Clearing CMV project helped the plant save 1.5 million kWh of electricity, 33,634 million BTUs of natural gas and 59.3 million gallons of water in 2012, which equates to the daily water use of 148,000 U.S. households. Overall, CMV projects saved more than 70 million gallons of water across our facilities in 2012.
We’re also integrating sustainable design into our new facilities. In 2012, we opened a new office and innovation hub in the city of Monheim am Rhein, Germany. The building features sustainable design, including motion-sensing LED lights, solar collectors for heating and cooling, and rainwater collection for flushing toilets.
The facility also features an underground ice reservoir for heating and air conditioning, the largest of its kind in the world. The heat pump taps energy sources such as air, solar and the Earth’s natural warmth in the immediate vicinity of the reservoir. Heat generated in the building’s application and IT server labs is collected and used for recharging the ice reservoir. Overall, the system is expected to reduce the facility’s energy draw by 50 percent and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Our sustainability efforts extend to our products. We are an industry leader in product stewardship. We seek opportunities to enhance our ability to identify the most effective, sustainable and safest ingredients for our products. We received a Minnesota Pollution Control Green Chemistry grant in 2012 to help fund a project to integrate green chemistry principles into all-purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners and glass cleaners. The results included:
- Reduction in the use of nonrenewable materials of 502,000 pounds annually
- Reduction in the use of volatile organic compounds by 295,000 pounds annually
- Reduction in packaging waste of 49,900 pounds annually
- Average improvement in bio-based percentage of products from 22 percent to 83 percent
- All products meet the Green Seal (GS-37) standard for biodegradation, human and aquatic toxicity
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; and
- 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.
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 Detailed Appendix to our 2012 Sustainability Report.