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Intel’s Chemical Waste Rises 27% in One Year

Intel saw most of its economic metrics worsen in 2010 compared to 2009, with chemical waste output up 27 percent, according to the company’s 2010 CSR Report.

Last year chemical waste generated was 31,265 tons, up from 24,665 tons in 2009 and the highest level in five years. The company has a target to reduce its chemical waste per chip by ten percent by 2012, from 2007 levels. It blames the rise on increasing complexity in its manufacturing processes.

Intel says that in 2010 it took steps to reduce two of its largest chemical waste streams: dissolved metallic copper and corrosive solvent. It installed a system to recover dissolved metallic copper on-site, and plans to install a second one in 2011. It also says it reduced chemical waste associated with indium, a thermal interface material used to absorb heat generated by its products.

Chemical waste recycled rose to 75 percent in 2010, up from 71 percent in 2009, but down from the 2008 level of 84 percent. Multiple groups within Intel are addressing the chemical waste issue, the company says.

Solid waste was also up on 2009 levels, rising 15 percent, from 44,484 to 51,345 tons. The proportion of solid waste recycled or reused rose to 83 percent, from 80 percent in 2009, and down on 2008’s level of 88 percent.

Intel says that in 2010, its waste reduction programs saved more than $5 million. During the past five years, it has encouraged employee participation by applying such funds to provide rebates in its cafeterias, purchase employee fitness center equipment, and make other site improvements.

Water withdrawn was up 2.9 percent last year, from 7,923 to 8,152 million gallons – another five-year high. The company recycled about two billion gallons of water in 2010, the report said, and since 1998 has saved 40 billion gallons of water. Last year Intel completed a water footprint analysis in collaboration with a third party, and this led to expanded disclosure on water use in the new report, the company said.

Greenhouse gas emissions were up 3.4 percent, from 2.05 to 2.12 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, though down 47 percent on 2006 levels. Energy use – including electricity, gas and diesel – was up 1.5 percent, from 5.11 to 5.18 million kWh.

This was despite Intel maintaining its position as the largest voluntary purchaser of renewable energy credits in the U.S., in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership rankings. In 2010 Intel completed nine solar electric installations in four U.S. states and Israel.

A company representative has said that Intel plans to save $25 billion by 2015 through energy-efficient IT initiatives.

Last December, Intel introduced the second generation Intel Core processor family, whose energy-efficiency improvements for laptops have led to 25 percent lower average power consumption with 20 to 70 percent greater performance than the previous generation processor, the company says.

In 2010, it nominated 62 individuals and teams for Intel Environmental Excellence Awards, recognizing employees who helped reduce Intel’s environmental impact. These employee projects resulted in estimated cost savings of $135 million.

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2 thoughts on “Intel’s Chemical Waste Rises 27% in One Year

  1. Thanks for the article on the new report – my name is Suzanne Fallender and I work in Intel’s Corporate Responsibility Office and manage production of the CSR Report, so appreciate getting the visibility for the report and welcome comments and feedback from your readers. One of the things we aim to do in the report is provide a balanced view of our performance – we are committed to transparency and believe that providing information on our challenges is a key part of our stakeholder engagement approach. As you highlight, chemical waste is one area where we have had challenges in the past few years, and we continue to work to identify opportunities to reduce generation and improve our recycling rate. Across the other KPIs referenced where we saw slight increases in our absolute amounts from 2009 to 2010, I did want to provide some additional context that for many of those, we did achieve reductions when normalized to production from 2009 to 2010. We report both absolute and normalized to production figures together in the report to help stakeholders understand our environmental performance when production levels vary from year to year and in light of our continued expansion of our manufacturing capabilities and business growth (we had record revenues in 2010 and the rest of our financial/economic indicators in the report improved significantly from 2009 to 2010). We continued to make capital investments in 2010 to reduce our overall impact and fund innovative process improvements and projects in support of our objective to operate with the smallest environmental manufacturing footprint possible as we grow in the coming years. I welcome additional feedback either through this post or also through our CSR@Intel blog athttp://intel.ly/mFLafi or on Twitter at @Intel_CSR. Many thanks! Suzanne

  2. Hi Suzanne – Tamar Wilner here with Environmental Leader. I appreciate your comments and clarification on Intel’s 2010 CSR Report. I just wanted to note that the reason we focused on reporting absolute rather than relative numbers was because those were the figures emphasized in Intel’s reporting. In the executive summary (http://www.intel.com/Assets/PDF/Policy/CSR-exec-sum-2010.pdf), the key environmental indicators on the summary table on page 22 are all in absolute terms, except for chemical waste recycled/reused and solid waste recycled/reused, which are expressed as percentages of output. Perhaps this is something for Intel to keep in mind when it designs its next CSR report.
    All the best
    Tamar Wilner
    Senior Editor
    Environmental Leader

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