Managing water use and consumption
The Environmental pillar of our WCM system is responsible for managing water consumption at the manufacturing sites and uses a cost analysis tool to address losses in our systems. As sites increase in WCM maturity, they also shift their approach to evaluate projects from a cost analysis to a load-reduction analysis. Even though the ultimate goal is to reduce consumption, as maturity increases, projects can be prioritized primarily on the overall impact reduction to the environment instead of on loss reduction.
In 2021, the Latin America Environmental team was recognized by the National Water Agency (ANA) for its “360 degree Water Management Program.” In one project, the Joinville manufacturing team was able to eliminate about 30,000 m³ of water per year in the painting process—a reduction of about 20%.
Considering the compliance risks naturally associated with wastewater and stormwater discharge, water was defined in 2022 as a priority for our Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) global team. A new global procedure has been defined, listing key controls and management practices to be followed by all sites globally; deployment is scheduled to start in 2023 and go until 2024. In order to support this implementation, regional workshops are being executed, and in order to monitor the progress on implementation, a new checklist has been developed and implemented into Whirlpool Corp.’s internal EHS management software. These actions are part of our continuous effort to drive consistency and accuracy in our assurance process.
Increasing the pace on our path to achieve sustainable water use, we have updated our water intensity target from 1% reduction to 3% reduction per year.
Reducing water intensity in operations
In 2022, our total water consumption volume declined by 19% compared to 2021. This reduction was influenced by WCM-driven projects as well as a reduction in production volumes.
- Reduction of approximately 21% in our water intensity key performance indicator over the past five years.
- Definition of a new global procedure for water management, to be deployed and implemented at all manufacturing sites by 2024.
2022 Alliance for
Water Efficiency Member of the Year Award
Introducing a new global water management process
In 2021, we formalized our “We Care” commitment toward protecting our employees, helping to protect the environment, acting sustainably and engaging all employees as a shared responsibility with the launch of our “We Care” Standards Manual. In 2022, we have worked to set global procedures for our main focus topics, including water management.
A global procedure for water management was developed in 2022, including the minimum requirements for a wastewater monitoring plan, criteria and tools for reporting of exceedances, standardization of definitions around wastewater discharge to be reported at all sites, definitions of tools and minimum requirements for water conservation/consumption reduction, and minimal requirements for stormwater pollution prevention. The procedure is also aligned with our internal climate change physical risk scenario analysis for the development of long-term plans for water consumption minimization in sites located in water-stressed, high-risk areas.
Partnering to improve the Blanchard River
Our Ottawa, Ohio, operations initiated a collaboration with the Blanchard River Watershed Partnership, a nonprofit whose goal is to improve the quality of water of the Blanchard River and the connected watersheds. Through the use of the Litterati app, which is designed to allow users to track the amount of litter/recyclables they generate, Ottawa created a week-long cleanup event with the goal of having 10 participants pick up 500 pieces of litter/recyclables. Ottawa exceeded that expectation and had 20 participants collect 5,971 pieces of litter/recyclables. This information is then made available to local communities so they may be able to learn what issues they may potentially have, where they are located, and then make a plan to tackle those areas. These actions are having positive impacts on the local environment and improving the water quality of the community.
Celebrating World Water Day
Every year on March 22, many of our sites use this occasion to promote environmental awareness and to engage leadership and employees to reinforce our strategy toward water consumption reduction and water resource protection. This year, actions were taken in each of the four regions in which our company operates, including awareness campaigns involving the children of our employees that were done in our Ramos, Mexico, and Wroclaw, Poland, sites. In India, where groundwater scarcity is a major issue, the topic was brought up through presentations to our employees. In the Joinville, Brazil site, children of employees were invited to visit Whirlpool Corp. facilities and learn about the actions the company takes to protect natural resources. They visited a wastewater treatment center with Whirlpool Corp. employees and listened to a lecture about why and how wastewater needs to be treated before discharge.
Our ongoing efforts to reduce water use
For the past two years, the Latin America region has been piloting a water recirculation measure to go beyond reducing water consumption each year. In 2022, those sites recirculated 98% of their water intake and captured rainwater to reduce their water intake requirements. At the Joinville site, rainwater accounts for almost 10% of the total water intake. These water-saving initiatives at Whirlpool Corp. in Brazil were recognized with the 2021 ANA award in the category of “medium and large companies.”
Our sites in India also minimize groundwater withdrawals and water discharge to streams. Our Pondicherry site, for example, has three internal ponds where rainwater is collected and redirected to recharge its aquifers. The site has an internal sanitary wastewater treatment plant, and all water treated is used for gardening in the large green areas of the site. The facility also contains internal quality laboratories for testing our washing machines, and all of the water utilized in the tests is treated internally, recirculated and made available for future testing.
Putting environmental efficiency into practice in Brazil
In June 2022, the Latin America region of Whirlpool Corp. started a new chapter in its Brazilian history. Following the concept of sustainable buildings, we inaugurated our brand new office building called “W-House.” The new building incorporates best practices related to environmental efficiency, like water reuse, biodigestor for organic waste, rainwater harvesting, electric car charging, translucent tiles (natural lighting), lighting sensor in the rooms with LED lamps and zero plastics in administrative areas. The new office is focused on the well-being of our ~1,500 employees, with a town hall space, laundry and beauty services, a childcare facility, and a restaurant with five different food styles, including vegan.