Waste contains valuable raw materials that can be reused in the production stream, which is why we consider it highly important to both prevent and recycle as much of our waste as possible.
Our approach to waste and recycling
We work to minimize the environmental impacts of our waste disposal activities and limit the loss of raw materials. To this end, we have set the goal of reducing the ecological impact of our waste by 5% by 2025 (relative to the 2016 baseline). This objective was adopted by the Executive Board in 2017.
We generally try to prevent waste, for instance by developing new production processes and optimizing existing ones. Since this is not always feasible, whenever possible we endeavor to reuse the accrued waste to produce materials or generate energy. Through measures such as waste separation, we ensure that raw materials are recycled and that unrecyclable waste is discarded in an environmentally sustainable manner in line with the strictest waste disposal standards. In doing so, we comply with local legal requirements, taking into account the available disposal options.
Responsibility for waste disposal process
As a generator of waste, we are responsible for the ultimate disposal of our waste products and therefore choose our service providers with the utmost care, contractually stipulating disposal requirements. Each of our vendors must prove that they properly discard our waste. Through random internal audits (and external audits in the United States), we ensure the appropriate disposal of our waste, especially when it comes to hazardous substances.
Failure to comply with disposal regulations could result in a fine or damage to our reputation. In terms of our service providers, such a violation may lead us to terminate the business relationship.
How we organize our waste management and recycling activities
Our Group function Environment, Health, Safety, Security, Quality (EQ) bears overall responsibility for our waste management and recycling activities, while our EHS managers are in charge of implementing our guidelines and requirements at our individual sites (see Environmental stewardship). In 2017, waste management accounted for around 25% of our EHS spending. This includes the personnel expenses of the units concerned as well as the costs for waste disposal via external service providers.
Waste management is part of our Group-wide ISO 14001-certified environmental management system. As well as undergoing external certification, we also conduct internal Corporate Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) audits to review our waste management practices. Moreover, we regularly inform and educate our local EHS managers and site directors on various waste disposal issues, for instance through EHS forums or conferences, in an effort to ensure Group-wide compliance with our environmental standards.
Our commitment: Group-wide EHS standard
Our Group-wide EHS Waste Management standard provides a consistent framework for waste management across all our sites, defining organizational structures and minimum requirements. In line with this standard, all facilities document their waste by type and quantity, reporting this data to EQ.
Our Waste Scoring System
At our company, we use a variety of methods for recycling and disposing of waste, each of which have a different impact on the environment. To take these impacts into account in our waste reduction efforts, in 2016 we created the Waste Scoring System, which allows us to compare the amount of waste our individual sites are producing and monitor our various waste streams. Under this system, the volume of waste is assigned to one of five categories according to how it is disposed of (see diagram), and then multiplied by a factor that increases based on the disposal method’s environmental impact. The sum of the scores of each category provides the total Waste Score of our company.
Reducing the environmental impacts of waste by 2025
In 2017, we calculated our Group-wide Waste Score for 2016. Based on this score, in 2017 the Executive Board adopted the goal of reducing the environmental impact of our waste by 5% by 2025. To achieve this objective, in 2016 we started examining our production processes and disposal methods to identify potential areas for improvement, continuing these efforts into 2017. All sites are expected to do their part to reduce waste. The Waste Score excludes construction and demolition waste, along with waste resulting from the treatment of wastewater.
Relative to 2016, the amount of waste we produced in 2017 remained unchanged at 252 metric kilotons. Construction and demolition waste continue to account for the majority of our total waste – 37% in 2017 and 31% in 2016. In particular, the remodeling of our global headquarters in Darmstadt, to be completed in 2018, has generated large quantities of such waste material.
Establishing eco-friendlier disposal methods
At our site in Molsheim (France), we are already working towards achieving our new waste disposal target. In April 2017, we switched from incinerating all solid media waste from production activities to composting it. This new method involves filling biodegradable bags with the solid media waste and shipping them to a local composting facility, where the waste is mixed with vegetable and green waste. Once turned into compost, it can be used by municipalities or individuals for planting. This method is set to reduce the amount of incinerated waste by 80 metric tons annually.
Reducing filter waste
In 2015, we switched our multi-step filter process for photoresists to a single-step process. Instead of requiring several filters we now use only one, thus decreasing filter waste by around 50%-70%. Already an established practice at our facilities in Hsinchu (Taiwan), Shizuoka (Japan), and Suzhou (China), in 2017 we also introduced the process to our Anseong site in Korea.
Optimizing and modernizing our Darmstadt site
At our site in Darmstadt, we have initiated various processes to prevent waste and recycle materials. In 2016 and 2017, for instance, a solvent recycling process enabled us to recycle 500 metric tons of methanol, which is generated in the manufacture of excipients for cosmetic products and the amino acid glycine.
In addition to these efforts, in 2016 we replaced our old exhaust air purification system that used an oil scrubber with one that employs a catalytic burner. In 2017, we thus reduced waste generation by 340 metric tons, which translated to savings of around € 150,000.