Waste contains valuable raw materials that can be reused in the production stream. However, it can also pose risks to the environment, so we consider it fundamental to both prevent and recycle as much of our waste as possible.
Our approach to waste and recycling
We work to both limit the loss of raw materials and minimize the environmental impacts of our waste disposal processes. 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).
We generally try to prevent waste, for instance by developing new production processes or 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 our Waste Scoring System and its objectives, we are supporting the circular economy. By employing measures such as waste separation, for instance, 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 the 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 have properly discarded our waste, and we perform random audits to verify their compliance with our disposal standards, especially when it comes to hazardous substances.
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 2018, we established both a Group-wide and a U.S.-based Waste Expert Network Group aimed at fostering interactions and promoting best practice sharing on waste management. In addition, these groups of experts are responsible for further integrating waste scoring into our company practices.
Waste management is part of our Group-wide ISO 14001-certified environmental management system. As well as undergoing external certification, we also conduct internal EHS audits to review our waste management practices. Moreover, in an effort to ensure Group-wide compliance with our environmental standards, we regularly host activities such as EHS forums and conferences to keep our local EHS managers and site directors informed on various waste disposal issues.
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. It moreover stipulates that all facilities document their waste by type and quantity, reporting this data to EQ. In 2018, we revised this standard to further reinforce the requirements for achieving our waste disposal targets.
Award for our Waste Scoring System
At our company we use a variety of methods for recycling and disposing of waste, each of which has a different impact on the environment. To account for these impacts in our waste reduction efforts, in 2016 we created a Waste Scoring System that 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 discarded (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.
All sites are expected to do their part to reduce waste. The Waste Score excludes construction and demolition debris, along with waste from water treatment plants, because such waste inherently has clearly defined disposal methods that can rarely be circumvented.
In 2018, we were awarded third place for our Waste Scoring System in the regional Responsible Care competition. Organized by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), this year’s competition centered around “Our contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.
Clear target for reducing the environmental impacts of waste
In 2017, we calculated our Group-wide Waste Score for 2016. Taking this as a basis, in 2017 the Executive Board adopted the goal of reducing the environmental impact of our waste by 5% by 2025. To achieve this objective, we constantly examine our production processes and disposal methods to identify potential areas for improvement. In 2018, we furthermore established two Waste Expert Network Groups that meet regularly to discuss best practices, thus facilitating Group-wide exchange among our sites. In addition, these expert groups are responsible for integrating waste scoring into our company practices.
Relative to 2017, the amount of waste we produced in 2018 decreased slightly, coming to 247 metric kilotons. Construction and demolition debris continue to account for the majority of our total waste – 31% in 2018, and 36% in 2017. In particular large quantities of such waste material was generated by the remodeling of our global headquarters in Darmstadt, a process we completed in 2018.
Preventing waste: Sharing instead of discarding
In April 2018 we launched the online platform called "Troc" at our site in Corsier-sur-Vevey (Switzerland). Using this platform, departments can procure consumables, devices and products that other departments were planning to throw away. By involving all our employees at the site in this project, we are also raising awareness on waste minimization.
Preventing waste: Reducing filter waste
In 2015, we switched our multi-step filter process for photoresists to a single-step process, thus decreasing filter waste by 50%-70%. Since 2017, this process has become standard at all our facilities involved in photoresist filtering.
Reycling: From production waste to valuable compost
At our site in Molsheim (France), since 2017 we have been making a concerted effort to achieve our waste disposal target by composting all solid media waste from production activities instead of incinerating it. This 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 is used by municipalities and individuals. This method is set to reduce the amount of incinerated waste by 80 metric tons annually.
Recycling the solvent methanol
At our site in Darmstadt, we have initiated various processes to prevent waste and recycle materials. In 2018, for instance, a solvent recycling process enabled us to recycle 211 metric tons of methanol, which is generated in the manufacture of excipients for cosmetic products and the amino acid glycine.