Intel’s Green Dreams Suffer A Major Setback
A chemical wastage increase of 27 percent has dented Intel’s hopes to turn the green clock back to 2007
Environmentalists may be a little disappointed with Intel’s latest corporate social responsibility (CSR) report. Despite reasonable progress over the past four years, the 2010 report shows the company has had a setback in all five environmental indicators.
Intel measures its greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, water consumption, and the chemical and solid waste generated. In this last category it also discloses chemical and solid waste recycling as a percentage.
Largest Chemical Wastage In Five Years
The particularly shocking figure from the report (see table) is the jump in chemical waste that the company generated. Since 2006, the waste output, measured in tons, has followed a good year/bad year cycle but the trend has been heading in the right direction. Last year, however, Intel posted the highest chemical waste output in the five years it has been posting CSR reports.
In 2009, the company produced 24,665 tons of chemical waste but last year this reached 31,265 tons – a 27 percent increase. The company has a target of reducing this figure to 20,934 by 2012 and, based on the trend from 2008 to 2009, might have expected to reach this figure this year but “increasing complexity” of Intel’s manufacturing processes caused the setback.
The report states: “We expect to face continuing challenges in reducing chemical waste in our operations, and therefore will continue to focus on recycling as much of this waste as possible.”
Recycling of the wasted chemicals has improved from 71 percent in 2009 to 75 percent in 2010 but the sheer quantity of chemicals means that there was still an increase in unrecycled waste.
Water Per Chip Ratio Improves
Intel also feels it could do better in reducing the water it uses. Although the increase was just under three percent in 2010, that resolves to eight billion gallons. The company has said that it intends to reduce the water used per chip to 2007 levels by the end of next year. Last year the water used per chip actually fell by 23 percent, but that followed particularly poor figures the previous year.
On the positive side, 80 percent of the water the company uses is returned to treatment plants to be re-used for irrigation and other processes. The remaining 20 percent, around 1.4 billion gallons, is lost in evaporation.
Despite the disappointments of last year, Intel is committed to its sustainability efforts and has done much to reduce energy usage within its products. The company is also an active member of the Green Grid consortium which looks at best practices and technologies to improve sustainability figures in data centres.