We know that managing the use of natural resources in the manufacturing process is the right thing to do as part of our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint. As the world's leading kitchen and appliance company, we're able to leverage both our global scale and innovative manufacturing processes to drive best-in-class energy performance across all regions. The WCM system that we adopted at all of our production sites includes an Environmental pillar: helping prevent pollution by implementing proper and effective operational controls, educating people and ensuring the responsible use of energy.
We use several tools across our manufacturing environment to drive more effective energy management, including:
Our Environmental Management System (EMS), which is set up based on recognized standards such as the ISO 14001—Environmental Management Systems—and ISO 50001—Energy Management Systems standards.
Our energy management audit tool (EMAT), which aims to improve behavior by understanding unsafe acts and transforming them into safe acts, promoting cultural change and process improvements.
Our goal to reduce 3% in energy intensity every year is on track as our teams accelerate the implementation of WCM Energy initiatives. For example, our Joinville plant in Brazil achieved a 13% reduction in energy intensity in the last three years, by preventing losses in the manufacturing process. The team identified potential losses and took specific actions to minimize them through the elimination of compressed air leaks, implementation of heat recovery, fixtures replacement and reduction of electricity consumption. The project was recognized with an award by “Prêmio Expressão de Ecologia,” one of the most recognized environmental awards in Brazil.
In the U.K., our energy team partnered with their gas provider to swap 40% of their liquified petroleum gas (LPG) usage for a bio-based LPG alternative. BioLPG has lower emissions compared to traditional LPG and we will calculate the exact emission reductions from this switch in 2021. The U.K. team intends to continue their transition to BioLPG over the next 20 years, eventually replacing all standard LPG.
We monitor energy consumption data, as well as other environmental key performance indicators, using Resource Advisor by Schneider Electric. Our global sites use this platform to report environmental data in a centralized system, compare KPIs with other sites and review data from previous years. It includes historical data related to water, waste, energy and plant emissions, which are used to inform our environmental strategy and disclosures.
We also prioritize waste and water as part of our Environmental Management System.
71%Whirlpool Corporation sites achieved Zero Waste to Landfill Gold or Platinum status in 2020.
In 2012, we set a 10 year target to reach zero waste to landfill by 2022. In 2020, we updated our zero waste program to align to the UL ECVP 2799 Zero Waste to Landfill standard, which sets certain levels of achievement. At the start of 2020, we asked all sites to reach the Silver level according to self-declaration, which requires at least 90% diversion from landfill without waste to energy (recycling, reusing, reducing, rejecting) and up to 94% with waste to energy included, by the end of the year. According to internal data, 31 of 35 sites have achieved this target with 25 sites going beyond the silver level. The Gold level requires sites to divert 90% of their waste from landfill without waste to energy, and between 95% and 99% diversion with the waste to energy included. Adopting the UL standard has helped us understand that barriers to pure zero waste to landfill remain. For example, certain types of waste such as medical waste do not have alternative disposal options or are mandated to be sent to landfill or incineration without heat recovery in some of the regions where we operate. We are on track to achieve our 10-year target to reach zero waste to landfill Gold level status by 2022.
Two of the three Whirlpool Corporation sites in Brazil achieved absolute zero (Platinum level) zero waste to landfill status in 2020 while the Manaus plant achieved Gold status. Our Joinville plant also won the prestigious Environmental Award by “Prêmio Expressão de Ecologia.”
Findlay, Ohio site achieves near Zero Waste to Landfill; wins Ohio EPA E3 Gold Level award
As we look forward to completing our zero-manufacturing waste to landfill journey, we have started to collect and work with our integrated supply chain teams to measure and drive zero waste best practices in our regional distribution centers. We also focus on encouraging behavior change through training. In our Joinville, Brazil plant, for example, implementing a WCM principle to improve waste management allowed the team to increase the amount of recyclable materials, approximately 10 tons per year, and avoid heat recovery.
Whirlpool’s Findlay operations location is a pilot site for our Zero Waste to Landfill efforts in the U.S. and operates at a 98% waste diversion with only 0.17 kg of waste being sent to landfill per major unit produced.
The Environmental pillar of our WCM system is responsible for managing water consumption at the manufacturing sites. All of our manufacturing sites utilize WCM methodology to detect and attack waste and losses. Our target is to reduce water intensity by 1% year over year. This goal is set purposefully to help lead improvements in water efficiency, without sacrificing the focus on energy and emissions. The sites regularly do better than the target, with 2020 results showing that we were able to achieve reductions beyond the target at most sites. Our manufacturing sites in Brazil increased water recirculation volumes in their processes and achieved around 98% of water recirculation, which is equivalent to the water required to fill 1,000 Olympic-size pools. The Joinville site reused rainwater equivalent to 8% of their total water consumption in 2020 while the Rio Claro site reused 100% of their industrial wastewater in the manufacturing processes.
We control wastewater in all of our plants in accordance with local regulations. Additionally, all sites follow a WCM system of classification for wastewater and monitor any events using a global tracking system. Wastewater limit exceedance events are classified into different categories of severity. The first is a near miss where an internal alarm limit was surpassed, but the legal limit has not been reached. The most severe is a serious emergency in which the site has been issued a fine or required to undergo an administrative process. The goal is always zero wastewater exceedance events. This system allows sites to track any incidents and set targets for improvement.
Alliance for Water Efficiency
We are a founding member of the Alliance for Water Efficiency with our Head of Sustainability serving as the Vice Chairman, elected in December 2020. We believe that using water efficiently saves money, preserves the environment and helps communities thrive.
In our path to achieve sustainable water use, we consider the risks posed by water scarcity by conducting regular risk assessments using the World Resources Institute (WRI) Aqueduct tool on a global site level as well as local regulatory requirements and international standards such as ISO 14001 as a basis for our assessment. The results of these assessments are then used to guide our strategy and action plans. Our current focus is on implementing projects to reduce water consumption and increase water recycling and reuse in our plants.
Home water quality received heavy focus in 2020, which saw both the continuation of microfiber generation and filtration projects as well as the release of a massive in-home water quality study* from Purdue and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This study, the most comprehensive examination of a single home to date, was built on data collected from the ReNEWW House. Additionally, along with neighbors at the Purdue DC House, Whirlpool Corporation engineers and Purdue Engineering researchers continue to examine how to convert all in-home electrical power from alternating current to direct current systems, thus increasing in-home energy efficiency and accessibility of renewable generation and storage.