Note 6: Towards a zero waste company
By 2030, we’re aiming to move towards zero waste as a company. We’re committed to taking proactive steps to reuse all our waste and reuse water at all our most water intensive sites.
Waste reduction remains one of our key environmental performance indicators. We focus on reducing waste generation in our manufacturing processes as part of our resource productivity program. We’re also committed to reusing and recycling obsolete materials and continue to promote a circular economy.
To help increase our contribution to the circular economy, new outlets have been identified for materials that would otherwise have been disposed of as waste. This has resulted in a waste avoidance of 8,500 tons.
In total, our reusable waste in 2020 was 32 kilotons, with 58% of our obsolete materials being reused, enabling us to further contribute to the circular economy.
During 2020, despite the volumes variation due to COVID-19, we reduced relative waste (kg/ton material produced) by 5%, achieving our 2020 goal. Most of our locations contributed through various programs introduced worldwide. Examples of some of our waste reduction projects include the installation of solvent recovery units; reducing packaging waste by moving from smaller paper bags or metal drums to bulk deliveries of raw materials; and reworking obsolete finished goods.
Sustainable water supply is essential to our business. We rely on water for, among others, raw material production, product formulation and manufacturing, cooling, cleaning and transportation. A significant number of our water intensive sites already reuse water. By focusing more and introducing the necessary technology, we’ll not only reduce our overall water intake and wastewater discharge, we’ll also be able to recover and reuse materials present in the process water, resulting in improved material efficiency and less waste.
Our most water intensive locations are often water-based paint production sites, where water is used as both a raw material and to clean equipment. Wastewater can be processed at on-site treatment plants or via third parties. Adapting formulations and using adequate water treatment enables us to reuse the water at our plants.
Our focus is mainly on recycling and reusing process water and driving a continuous reduction in freshwater intake and wastewater discharge. Currently, 19% of our water intake is from potable water, while the rest is mainly from surface water. Around 78% of the total water intake is used for cooling purposes. In 2020, the cooling water use from surface water increased substantially, due to an issue at one location. This was resolved in the second half of the year, but still resulted in an increase in our total fresh water intake. Our water use excluding cooling water decreased by 9% in 2020.
An economic system which is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.