Intel’s Chemical Waste Rises 27% in One Year

by | May 19, 2011

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Water withdrawn was up 2.9 percent last year, from 7,923 to 8,152 million gallons – another five-year high.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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