Water usage is a crucial part of our operations and we recognize the value of this important resource. We are developing a strategic water management plan to help identify water reduction, recycling and efficiency opportunities.
Although we do not currently have specific goals related to water use and discharge, we do monitor our use of this important natural resource. Our focus is on identifying water and wastewater streams that can be reused within our manufacturing operations. In 2015, our overall water consumption decreased slightly by 1%. However, the intensity of our water usage per metric ton of production increased by 2%, which includes decreased production at some of our facilities while water usage remained nearly constant for routine operations and maintenance. Similarly, we saw close to a 3% decrease in wastewater discharge, with a slight increase in intensity.
While we anticipate continued water constraints in some regions, we will continue exploring ways in which we may be able to reduce water use and discharge by sharing best practices. For example, we are voluntarily coordinating a working group under the Association of Chemical Industries of Brazil. This group has been working diligently to develop a contingency plan intended to help companies in the area minimize their risks regarding water scarcity that will be complimented by a manual for our industry to adopt best practices for rational use of water in the area.
Local Environmental Initiatives
Regional water scarcity issues
In 2015, employees at our Maua, Brazil site identified solutions for reusing gray water in the midst of a severe drought in the São Paulo area. Through these efforts, the site reduced its reliance on potable water for process operations.
Tianjin Water Reduction Efforts
Our carbon black manufacturing facility in Tianjin, China, completed a detailed material balance of the site’s water use and wastewater streams.
The primary objective of this was to identify recycling opportunities where water being discharged could be reused in the manufacturing process. The team identified a series of improvements that would direct water being discharged from a variety of sources to a central collection sump. From the sump, the water is reused in the flue gas desulfurization system to offset raw make-up water. The project implementation, which is ongoing, is expected to save 120,000 cubic meters of water per year, or approximately 5% of the total site water use, with a positive financial payback in one year.