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GE Reduces Freshwater Use 45%

GE logoIn conjunction with its 2014 Annual Report, GE launched an interactive website, which includes its progress on ecomagination — the company’s commitment to technologies that save money and reduce environmental impact.

By the end of 2013, GE had reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent compared to its 2004 baseline and water use by 45 percent compared to its 2006 baseline, resulting $300 million in savings.

As part of its ecomagination goal to reduce our freshwater consumption, GE’s Global Research Center reviewed the 70 sites that used more than 15 million gallons of freshwater in 2013 against the Maplecroft Water Stress Index. Fourteen sites were identified as being in potentially extremely water-scarce regions, and 17 additional sites were identified as being in areas with a medium level of water scarcity. Overall, 1.44 billion gallons, or 19 percent of the total freshwater consumption in 2013, were consumed in water-scarce areas. GE’s consumption of freshwater in water-scare areas decreased 1.2 percent in 2013 versus 2012.

Several of the company’s facilities have achieved significant water savings. The GE research center in Bangalore, India, which is in a region that Maplecroft categorizes as one with extreme water scarcity, underwent major upgrades to its wastewater treatment system. The new system, combined with other changes, have reduced per capita water usage by 35 percent between 2006 and 2012.

GE Water’s manufacturing site in Oroszlany, Hungary, is also in a water-scarce region. This site manufactures hollow fiber ultrafiltration membranes.

Since joining GE in 2006, production at the Oroszlany site has increased more than threefold. Correspondingly, the site’s water use also increased sharply. However, through a variety of water reduction projects, the site has reduced the amount of water usage per membrane produced by nearly 40 percent since 2006. The site is in the process of implementing a GE Water reverse osmosis membrane unit to recycle the effluent from their onsite wastewater plant. The clean water from the RO will be then be reused within manufacturing operations. The project is estimated to provide a further 50 percent reduction in site water use for a savings of $400,000 per year.

GE says it will report its 2014 GHG and water numbers this spring.

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