Sustainability Report 2019/2020

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Creating tomorrow’s solutions

Water

Our sustainability strategy accounts for the essential significance of water. In 2020, we prepared a water stewardship program under which our business divisions and sites commit to using water resources responsibly. Water plays an important role in many of WACKER’s production processes, whether for cooling, cleaning or as a formulation component. Safe, cost-effective availability of water, in both the quality and quantity needed, has a substantial effect on the company’s added value.

Climate change may increasingly lead to limitations on the available quantity and quality of water, and this, in turn, can carry production safety risks. In addition to observing social and regulatory requirements pertaining to water consumption and sewage disposal at our sites, we gear our water management toward safely managing these risks.

Our water management plays out at the local level, so that we can accommodate the unique circumstances and requirements of the areas where our sites are located. To this end, we focus on the following:

  • Giving our production processes a secure supply of water, in a quantity and quality (temperature, substance loads) appropriate to demand – adapted to the ecological capacity of the water reservoir in question.
  • Treating wastewater safely and preventing harmful substances from entering waterways.
  • Meeting society’s demands for sustainable water use and fulfilling legal and regulatory specifications for water consumption and wastewater/sewage disposal.
  • Ensuring our production sites can be adapted to physical and regulatory changes both to head off risks to sustainable development and to take advantage of economic opportunities.
  • Strengthening the degree to which the production portfolio supports our sustainability efforts by incorporating impacts on water into our WACKER Sustainable Solutions strategy.

Key Water Data

Water withdrawal for WACKER’s own demand across the Group fell in 2019 due largely to the weather-dependent normalization of cooling water consumption at Burghausen. Disposal of residual organics – expressed in terms of chemical oxygen demand (COD) – grew slightly, due in part to an increase in production output at our site in León, Spain. The increase in halogenated organic hydrocarbons (AOX) was partly attributable to the fact that operation of Burghausen’s biological wastewater treatment facility was at times restricted in the first quarter of 2019.

In 2020, water withdrawal for WACKER’s own demand across the Group rose 5 percent year over year due to the increased demand for cooling water at the Holla site’s Furnace No. 8.

Development in wastewater management was characterized in 2020 by a decrease in wastewater volume. Residual organics (recorded in terms of COD) have been significantly reduced over the long term. The excellent performance of wastewater treatment at the Burghausen site, which recorded a historically low COD load in 2020, was a major factor in this trend.

The process water used at Nünchritz comes from on-site wells (2020: 4,342,909 m3; 2019: 4,544,751 m3). Drinking water accounts for less than 1 percent of our total water use at this site.

Water Use/Emissions to Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020

 

2019

 

2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water use ( thousand m3 )1

 

264,077

 

 

WACKER’s own demand

 

229,930

 

218,270

 

227,510

Supplying third parties

 

34,147

 

 

Cooling water volume ( thousand m3 )1

 

237,829

 

 

WACKER’s own demand

 

206,228

 

201,547

 

211,140

Supplying third parties

 

31,601

 

 

Wastewater volume (thousand m3)

 

16,926

 

17,432

 

17,110

Produced by WACKER

 

11,142

 

 

Produced by third parties

 

5,784

 

 

COD (chemical oxygen demand) (t)

 

1,053

 

1,288

 

1,230

AOX (halogenated organic hydrocarbons) (t)

 

2.8

 

3.2

 

2.2

Heavy metals (t)

 

1.1

 

1.3

 

1.0

Total nitrogen (t)

 

171

 

172

 

173

Total phosphorus (t)

 

7.5

 

7.9

 

7.5

1

From 2020 onward, the figure for water withdrawal also includes water volumes redirected to third parties.

Up to 2018, we had used the Global Water Tool™ (GWT) developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) – or the WRI Aqueduct contained in that tool – to analyze the relative water stress index of the countries where our main production sites are located. The results showed that 99 percent of our annual water use and over 91 percent of our production volume were attributable to regions with adequate water availability levels. This tool was discontinued in 2019.

For this reason, we have been using the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Water Risk Filter for the current reporting period. According to this tool, the global basin risk of our production sites in 2020 was a maximum of 3.6 (previous year: 3.5; scale: 1 = no risk, 5 = high risk). In other words, we did not find any significant risks to waterways.

In 2020, we scored a B in the CDP’s Water Security Report. This ranking was made possible by detailed analyses of the company’s processes and by more systematic data capture (prior year: B-; scale from A to D, representing the levels Leadership (A), Management (B), Awareness (C) and Disclosure (D)). Registered CDP users can download the details.

In 2020, WACKER joined Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS), an initiative committed to preventing the release of plastic pellets (flakes, powder, particles) into waterways.

In 2020, the Burghausen site’s Employee Suggestion Program launched an ideas campaign calling on employees to recognize water as an important resource and use it sparingly. Some 30 suggestions were submitted, particularly on the topics of cooling water and wastewater; eight of these had already been implemented by the end of the period under review, while one was prepared for implementation.