25% Water Reduction
Reduce water use by 25%, with special and immediate attention to sites of highest water stress.
At O-I, we recognize that water is a precious resource and its availability is a growing concern globally. The United Nations recognizes access to clean water and sanitation as a human right—because both play a key role in the basic health and prosperity of each one of us.
In our operations, we primarily use water for cooling manufacturing processes and maintaining our plant equipment at a safe operating temperature. We aim to be good stewards of water and to foster sustainable and equitable management of freshwater resources. By building a culture of employee awareness, we seek to use our water resources responsibly, lead by example, and create the balance needed for sustainable support of the communities where we operate.
Our water use management consists of policies and procedures that have been developed by an interdisciplinary team that involves EHS, engineering, manufacturing, and R&D, among others. These policies are part of O-I’s Global Manufacturing Fundamentals (GMF), a multi-lingual program that compiles standardized specifications, requirements, work instructions, and training materials for use by everyone. To help ensure efficient and stable operations, our plant equipment is regularly inspected, including mandatory preventative maintenance on the water systems.
The Global EHS function leads the teams that regularly review our water conservation processes. Water is one of the regular topics in monthly multi-disciplinary meetings we use to leverage our global knowledge to drive continuous improvement. Bringing different teams together helps us to monitor and identify potential risks and opportunities, accelerating necessary measures and prioritizing focus.
Tracking and Reporting
O-I’s overall water performance is reported annually in the CDP Water report. We were proud to achieve a B rating in 2020, showing continuous progress over time. The O-I water program includes monitoring, risk management, wastewater management, and stormwater management. About once per year, O-I screens for shifts on water risks using the WRI Aqueduct tool. Aqueduct™ is an open-source data platform that helps us understand and locate risks from water stress, seasonal variability, pollution, and access. In 2020, 25 plants were in high and extremely high water distressed areas; 24% were in Latin America, 20% in Americas North, and 56% in Europe. Water risk assessment is also part of our Cradle to Cradle (C2C) and ISO 14044 life cycle analysis certifications.
Each O-I plant tracks water consumption and works to maintain compliance with local applicable regulations. The number of water sources and providers that we utilize worldwide requires a diverse array of strategies for controlling, metering, and reporting data. O-I is making moves to improve our monitoring systems and standardize our data collection as part of a comprehensive approach to water stewardship. Meeting our conservation goals is a vital piece of our sustainability journey and we are taking a collaborative approach across several functions, facilitating the sharing of best practices across the company.
Water Recirculating Systems-Cullet Processing
Our conservation initiatives are focused on water recycling and reuse whenever possible, which reduces the pressure on natural resources. Our hot glass rejects process utilizes a water recirculation system to minimize water consumption. This system generally includes a solids and oil/water separator that allows the water to be cycled back to the beginning of the process within the same system.
Periodic water replenishment of the system is needed to compensate for evaporative losses, but this recuperative practice is an effective option to reduce over 64,000 m3 of process water use per day. All our locations use this recirculating loop system.
Cooling Process Water
We also reuse water to cool manufacturing equipment in both open and closed-loop water systems. Up to 2% of water evaporates during the cooling phase for both the open and closed-loop systems. This consists of process water itself and a cooling water loop located on the tower. As water evaporation is part of the process, the conductivity of the water becomes too high and water is “blown down.” Makeup water is then automatically added to the cooling system to achieve the proper conductivity again. These systems help to conserve water consumption.
Treatment and Discharge
The Plant Manager and EHS Manager at each of our locations are responsible for our plants’ compliance with national, state, and local regulations, and permits regarding water withdrawal and wastewater discharge. Wastewater that is not reused within the plant is discharged in accordance with our permit requirements. Discharge wastewater exiting our plants is monitored and periodically sampled and tested as required by the local laws and regulations.
At O-I, the primary method of protecting stormwater runoff is to prevent contamination from occurring. This has been emphasized through the design of containment systems, employee training, and regular inspections. In the U.S., we follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) guidance at our manufacturing facilities and in other geographies we comply with local regulations. Following the SWPPP provides the roadmap to compliance with industrial stormwater permits. Stormwater outfalls are frequently inspected and sampled for compliance and periodically visually evaluated for the presence of non-stormwater discharges that are covered by local regulations. O-I strives to comply with all national, state, and local regulations regarding stormwater.
Our Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan (SPCC) addresses the management of oil materials and the prevention of off-site releases. While we are working towards having an SPCC plan in all facilities, for most that do now, the plan addresses spills that could occur at the facility level and establishes procedures and equipment required to prevent, control and provide adequate countermeasures to avoid such spills for each of our plants. These plants have a designated spill coordinator responsible for forming a spill response team and providing training.
Our SWPPP and SPCC plans provide plants with the roadmap to compliance. Stormwater outfalls are periodically recorded, sampled, and visually evaluated for the presence of non-stormwater discharges that are covered by local regulations.
Forming for Our Future
Moving forward, we will continue to improve sustainable management of water use, identify water management risks and opportunities, and contribute to increasing long-term water security. In addition to standards for water recycling, we believe improved monitoring and data collection systems will allow us to define benchmarks from which to set more ambitious goals for conserving water. O-I is prioritizing a culture of water stewardship throughout the organization. Initiatives to promote conservation through water literacy and a more visible focus on environmental awareness, will help reinforce our commitments and create company-wide alignment around the goals of improved efficiency and conservation.
Sustainability in Action
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