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Sustainability Priority Addressed on this PageBaxter Will Drive Reductions in its Natural Resource Use
Water and Wastewater
Water scarcity and access to water continue to grow in visibility and importance worldwide. Although global concerns, addressing these issues requires action at a local or regional level, since conservation efforts in one part of the world do not help address water scarcity and access in other locations. Due to the local nature of water issues, companies must first understand water risks associated with local operations before they can take appropriate and meaningful action.
Water is integral to many of Baxter’s products and manufacturing processes, and considers its responsibility to conserve water as a key focus. Baxter works to better understand the impacts of its water use across the value chain, and implements conservation and efficiency projects at its manufacturing facilities to improve its performance.
Baxter is committed to reducing water consumption by 35% indexed to revenue by 2015, compared to 2005. The company also has committed to implement two projects by 2015 to help protect vulnerable watersheds and provide communities with enhanced access to clean water.
Water and other environmental issues are interconnected. For example, global warming and resulting climate change are expected to decrease fresh water availability significantly, especially in water-scarce areas.1 As temperatures rise, higher sea levels may increase salt water intrusion and degradation in water aquifers near the ocean.
Water consumption, energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions are interrelated within Baxter’s manufacturing operations as well. The production of highly purified water requires energy to operate water purification equipment such as reverse osmosis and water distillation units. As water quality decreases, Baxter will need to use additional energy and water for these purposes.
Baxter closely manages how it obtains, uses, treats, re-circulates and discharges water. In 2011, the company acquired about half of its water from on-site wells and about half from municipal water distribution systems. In 2012, Baxter initiated a survey of its manufacturing facilities to improve its understanding of the sources of water used, including the water provided by municipal systems.
In 2011, Baxter's global operations used approximately 13.8 million cubic meters2 of water, roughly equivalent to filling more than 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day. The company used 6% less water in 2011 than in 2005 in absolute terms and 33% less indexed to revenue. Although Baxter is on target to meet its 2015 water-reduction goal, last year the company’s total water usage increased for the first time since 2005. Baxter used 4% more water in 2011 than in 2010, largely due to increased manufacturing activity at numerous Baxter facilities globally.
Baxter uses water in three main ways:
- Process-related uses include cooling towers, chillers, steam boilers, sterilizers and water purification;
- Use of purified water in the company’s solution products; and
- Other uses such as in bathrooms, cafeterias and landscaping.
Facilities with water-intensive operations develop site-specific water efficiency initiatives and metrics. Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) and Facilities Engineering Services personnel review performance to identify best practices for application at other locations.
Baxter identifies water usage reduction opportunities and possible water conservation projects in several ways. Due to the strong link between energy usage and water processing, optimizing water systems remains a key focus of the company’s facility energy assessments. Additionally, Baxter integrates Lean manufacturing principles and tools, such as value stream mapping, with water management, to help facilities identify areas for additional conservation.
Water value stream mapping is an interactive, Lean manufacturing tool that helps facilities better understand the quantity and quality of water used in their processes and identifies opportunities for reduction or reuse. In 2005, Baxter participated in a series of workshops with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and several other companies to explore how Lean manufacturing tools could be applied to environmental challenges. Following these workshops, the U.S. EPA published a series of toolkits that illustrates how organizations can use tools such as value stream maps to improve environmental performance.
During 2011, Baxter implemented water recovery and reuse projects at several facilities:
- Mexico - Baxter’s facility in Atlacomulco, a water-stressed region, reduced absolute water usage by 26% compared to 2010 by capturing water from the leak test process and reject water from reverse osmosis and reusing it in facility equipment that does not require high-quality water. This will save 4,600 m3 of water on an annual basis.
- Spain - Building on an initiative started in 2010, Baxter's Sabiñanigo facility expanded the removal of a two-stage washing bath from additional manufacturing lines for Viaflo, Baxter’s non-PVC flexible intravenous (IV) bag. The facility also implemented a project to recover and reuse hot water from autoclaves used to sterilize finished products. These efforts contributed to a 25,000 m3 reduction in water usage compared to 2010
- United States
- Baxter’s Los Angeles facility reduced wastewater from cooling towers, reverse osmosis equipment, and water distillation equipment to decrease water use by nearly 50,000 m3 compared to 2010.
- Baxter’s Mountain Home facility implemented water conservation projects such as reusing water from plastic pelletizer operations, optimizing water treatment equipment such as water softeners, and recycling cooling water by eliminating single-pass use in several parts of the facility. These projects have decreased water usage by nearly 6,100 m3 annually – a 1% absolute reduction and a 10% reduction normalized to facility production.
Water issues vary significantly by location. Baxter used the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Global Water Tool to evaluate the availability of renewable water resources at Baxter’s largest water-consuming locations, which represent approximately 92% of the company’s total water use. Nine of those sites are located in water-scarce areas, eight in water-stressed areas and 22 in water-sufficient areas (see second note on graph below).
Water usage in water-scarce and water-stressed areas increased 5% in absolute terms in 2011 compared to 2010, primarily due to production growth at those locations. Although Baxter has not established more aggressive water goals for these locations, water use normalized to production decreased by 4% at these locations combined – outpacing the internal corporate target of a 3% annual reduction.
While the WBCSD water tool has helped Baxter screen operations located in potentially water-scarce or water-stressed areas, the company has initiated a study to better understand the full water risk at each location. Building on the WBCSD approach, this study broadly defines water risk in three categories: cost and regulatory risks, access and growth-constraint risks, and reputation and right-to-operate risks.
With the help of Water Advocates, Baxter has begun to explore partnership opportunities with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to implement projects to help protect vulnerable watersheds or provide communities with enhanced access to clean water and sanitation.
Baxter has entered an agreement with a local NGO to implement a community water project near the company’s facility in Canlubang, Philippines. This project aims to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions of the nearly 1,500 individuals in Sitio Silangan. The project objectives are to:
- Introduce sustainable potable water sources to Sitio Silangan;
- Raise awareness about low-cost water supply and sanitation solutions for households and the community;
- Introduce and provide training on low-cost water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) technologies for human health, community empowerment and environmental protection; and
- Build the capacity of the community to manage its water supply and sanitation systems sustainably.
Baxter also is exploring similar projects near its Cuernavaca, Mexico, facility.
Wastewater discharged from Baxter's production operations represents one of the company's most significant environmental compliance risks. In 2011, 73 of Baxter’s 74 self-reported environmental incidents were exceedances of permitted wastewater discharge limits. During the year, 81% of the reported wastewater discharge exceedances were from two Baxter locations: Lessines, Belgium, reported 35 wastewater exceedances related to temperature, and Sabiñánigo, Spain, reported 25 wastewater exceedances, primarily involving increased flow of treated wastewater. Both facilities have worked with local environmental authorities to make certain that responses are satisfactory. In addition, Baxter’s environmental engineering group engaged an external wastewater expert during 2011 to ensure implementation of proper preventive actions at both locations.
A single event may result in numerous environmental compliance incidents. For instance, a discharge of hot water during the course of seven days that elevates the wastewater discharge temperature above the daily regulatory limit would count as seven environmental compliance incidents. The Lessines and Sabiñánigo facilities both experienced events that spanned multiple days and resulted in multiple exceedances.
Baxter’s Lessines facility has received temporary authorization from local regulatory officials for higher temperature wastewater discharge limits. This provides the facility time to investigate the sources of elevated wastewater temperature and implement projects to recover heat and water and reduce overall wastewater temperature. Addressing the source of the issue is preferable to installing additional pollution-control equipment at the wastewater treatment plant outfall.
The company’s Sabinanigo facility received a new wastewater discharge permit in 2011 that is sufficient for its operations and allows increased wastewater discharge volumes. The facility continues to pursue water-conservation projects.
In 2011, Baxter’s Castlebar, Ireland, facility received a complaint from the operator of the municipal wastewater treatment plant following the discharge of cleaning solution to the Baxter-dedicated wastewater pre-treatment system operated by another private entity. In response, Baxter has diverted large volumes of cleaning solution from the wastewater treatment plant and initiated engineering studies with the wastewater treatment plant operator to potentially modify the wastewater pretreatment system. Baxter continues to collaborate with government authorities and the pretreatment plant operator to identify solutions. The complaint generated interest by environmental regulatory officials and resulted in one notice of violation in 2011.
To address actual wastewater compliance issues and to anticipate potential ones, since 2006 Baxter’s environmental engineering group has performed wastewater risk evaluations and developed recommendations for facilities with elevated wastewater compliance risk.
The group selects facilities for evaluation based on:
- Noncompliance history;
- Potential for noncompliance to result in environmental impact;
- Facility wastewater treatment capacity and reliability;
- Anticipated changes in production or the introduction of new products; and
- Sufficiency of resources that support wastewater operations.
Baxter-Operated Wastewater Treatment Systems
Twelve of Baxter’s manufacturing operations treat wastewater on-site and either discharge to a waterway or operate as zero-discharge facilities. These facilities typically do not have access to regional or municipal wastewater-treatment systems. For example, Baxter’s facilities in Alathur and Waluj, India, reuse all treated wastewater on-site for landscaping and irrigation or, after further treatment by reverse osmosis, for cooling-towers. In 2011, these 12 facilities treated 4.4 million cubic meters of wastewater, nearly 32% of Baxter's total water consumption.
Baxter uses the following indicators to evaluate wastewater quality at the ten company facilities that discharge directly into waterways:
- 5-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5);
- Chemical oxygen demand (COD); and
- Total suspended solids (TSS).
These are the most commonly used metrics of wastewater quality across Baxter operations and indicate the operational performance of wastewater treatment systems. The company monitors and reports additional metrics following local requirements, but these are not collected at all sites and so are not included in this report.
The combined treated effluent from the ten facilities that discharge to a waterway contained substances that represent 24 metric tons of BOD5, 98 metric tons of COD and 49 metric tons of TSS. This equals average concentrations of 5 mg/liter BOD5, 22 mg/liter COD and 11 mg/liter TSS. These levels generally are regarded as indicators of adequately treated wastewater and are well below typical regulatory discharge limits.
|2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010||2011||Typical Acceptable Discharge Level (mg/L)|
|Total Direct Discharge||Cubic Meters||4,340,000||4,565,000||4,538,000||4,295,000||3,777,000||3,948,000||4,404,000|
|*||Estimated total water pollutant levels for treated wastewater discharged directly into waterways. Data do not include two facilities that operate zero-discharge systems in accordance with local regulatory requirements.|
|**||When actual performance data were not available, estimates were developed based on performance at similar facilities or on other measured performance indicators.|
Wastewater and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients
Baxter takes seriously the concern about active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) entering the public water supply. The company primarily produces solutions whose principal ingredients include water, salts and simple sugars. However, Baxter purchases and uses some solution therapies and products for injection that include APIs.
Baxter properly manages the APIs that it uses to help ensure they are not released into the environment during manufacturing. The company has developed proprietary processes to remove, destroy or deactivate some compounds though not required to do so by law. All other compounds that cannot be managed this way or through traditional wastewater systems are destroyed by incineration or another environmentally responsible manner.
Complementing these global processes, each Baxter facility determines the most effective and environmentally responsible method of protecting the public water supply and public health in accordance with company policies and local regulations. For example, Baxter’s major research and development facility in Round Lake, Illinois, United States, has an ongoing program launched in 1989 to evaluate its solution products, including those containing APIs, for their removal in wastewater treatment systems. The company shares this information with Baxter facilities around the world.
|1||The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report|
|2||One cubic meter equals 1,000 liters or 264 gallons.|