Bayer cuts water use by 7% but progress on waste and CO2 stalls

German healthcare firm Bayer reduced its water consumption by 6.6% in 2012 compared to the previous year, partly due to the closure of one of its production sites in the US.

Accounting for around 75% of the total water used by Bayer, total volume of cooling water was approximately 301 million metres squared (m3) in 2012, a reduction of around 7% compared to the previous year.

According to its 2012 sustainability report, cooling water is only heated and does not come into contact with products, meaning it can be returned to the water cycle without further treatment.

As with water consumption, the drop in “once-through” cooling water usage was also mainly due to the phased closure of the Bayer CropScience site in Institute in the United States.

In its production activities, water is currently recycled and reused at 38 sites, which includes reusing treated wastewater or the recirculation of steam condensates in the form of process water. A total of around 12 million m3 of water was reused in 2012.

In addition, the global volume of once-through cooling water fell by 22 million m3 to 289 million m3, while the total volume of process wastewater fell by just under 9.5%.

Bayer also recorded a 2.1% energy reduction from the previous year, to 83.2 petajoules, despite increasing its manufactured sales volume by 2.4% to 11.2 million metric tons.

Commenting on the company’s report, chairman of the board of management, Marijn Dekkers, said: “Our purpose in this is not only to do good, it is also to send out a message. Sustainable business practices mean finding a balance between social responsibility and economic necessities”.

However, the company was unable to progress in reducing its waste and greenhouse gas emissions, with both rising in 2012. The total volume of waste generated increased by 5.8% to 1,014,000 metric tonnes, primarily due to the implementation of two large-scale groundwater and soil remediation projects.

The company’s total amount of greenhouse gases rose by 2.6% in 2012, in parallel with the manufactured sales volume. The proportion of direct emissions remained almost at the same level as the previous year, increasing by just 0.3%.

One factor that contributed to the slight increase is the inclusion of emissions from the company’s fleet in the direct emissions category (Scope 1) for the first time, which had previously been listed under Scope 3 emissions.

Leigh Stringer

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