Dow Corning has reported significant progress in waste reduction, including a cut of up to 80 percent in process scrap at one of its manufacturing sites.
The reductions have been achieved in part through the company’s materials conversion program, which converts or recycles its waste, scrap and off-spec silicone materials instead of sending them to landfill or incineration. Materials are then reprocessed into new products that meet customers' specifications.
But the reduction also reflects actions at all operations to reduce waste.
“Waste reduction emerged as the most important environmental issue facing manufacturing businesses nowadays in an international study we commissioned last year,” said Peter Cartwright, Dow Corning executive director for environment, health and safety. “Like many other companies, Dow Corning is actively looking for ways to cut our waste levels.”
Examples of the success in these efforts in Europe include:
Reducing the amount of process scrap generated by the emulsions and antifoam production unit of its Seneffe, Belgium, manufacturing site by 80 percent;
Lowering the waste generated in its Barry, Wales, site by a factor of 10; and,
Reducing the overall amount of waste solvent at the Barry site by reusing a different solvent that is generated as a waste by-product elsewhere in the plant.
Examples in North America include:
Reducing consumption of natural gas and carbon dioxide emissions by burning hydrogen at its Midland, Mich., plant.
Reducing the amount of solvent used in a coating process in Midland that had been sent to an offsite disposal facility by recycling it.
Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through energy reduction at its Carrollton, Ky., plant has also helped to offset the impact of rising natural gas prices. A wide variety of projects over the past five years have contributed to a 19,800 tons-per-year reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
Examples in China include:
Recycling more than 80 percent of the waste at its Zhangjiagang (ZJG) sealant plant, in contrast to the 90 percent of waste that had previously been sent offsite for disposal.
Through the first half of 2008, the Zhangjiagang sealant plant has reduced generation of non-hazardous silicone and solvent streams by 50 percent compared to 2007.
The sealants plant also has established a program to focus on further reducing the sealant waste at its point of generation. The plant is committed to moving their waste stream up through the “waste hierarchy” from disposal to recycling, to reduction and elimination.
“Our commitment to sustainability not only factors into the products, processes, technologies and solutions Dow Corning offers,” said Cartwright, “but it also is apparent in our approach to waste reduction during the manufacturing process.”
About Dow Corning
Dow Corning (www.dowcorning.com) provides performance-enhancing solutions to serve the diverse needs of more than 25,000 customers worldwide. A global leader in silicones, silicon-based technology and innovation, Dow Corning offers more than 7,000 products and services via the company’s Dow Corning and XIAMETER brands. Dow Corning is a joint venture equally owned by The Dow Chemical Company and Corning Incorporated. More than half of Dow Corning’s annual sales are outside the United States.
For information on Dow Corning’s performance on sustainability, go to http://www.dowcorning.com/content/about/sustainability.aspx