Waste & Spills
As we continue to develop innovative solutions for our customers, our environmental impact is a constant consideration.
We acknowledge the potential impact that solid waste disposal or spills of hazardous materials could have on the environment in our local communities. Therefore, we take a targeted approach to minimize waste through a hierarchy of management practices, and we work toward zero spills at our facilities. We also believe that finding alternative uses for waste materials and byproducts presents opportunities to further contribute to a circular economy. As such, we have updated our waste goal to reduce the amount of waste generated at our facilities that is not beneficially reused or used for energy recovery by 20% and to ultimately eliminate waste disposal from our production facilities.
While overall production decreased in 2020 due to COVID-19 impacts, our facilities continued to operate and generate waste streams that could not be avoided. These waste streams included beneficially reused waste from continuously operating sites and waste disposed from activities such as maintenance. Excluding the waste generated at the facility undergoing changes in its manufacturing activities which are expected to increase over the short-term, we saw a 7% decrease in total waste generation from 2019 levels. Of this waste, over 51% was used for beneficial purposes. As of 2020, we have reduced total waste disposal (excluding deep well injection) by 1.2% compared to 2019, which is 6.1% toward our 2025 goal.
In 2020, our Tuscola facility began to shut-down its fumed silica manufacturing operations. During this transitional period, we are and will, experience changes to our process outputs which result in higher than normal waste disposal at our permitted deep-well injection site. This increased waste disposal activity, which accounts for 95% of all waste disposed by Cabot in 2020, represents the bulk of the increase in Cabot’s absolute total waste disposed and waste disposal intensity between 2019 and 2020. As the manufacturing operations continue to reflect the changes at the Tuscola site, we anticipate a reduction of the amount of waste generated and disposed of at the facility and for Cabot overall.
Reducing plastic waste
Expanding on our pledge to reduce plastic waste in some of our masterbatch facilities, our teams in Loncin and Pepinster, Belgium, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates launched a plan to implement Operation Clean Sweep®. Through this comprehensive program, each site assesses its facilities and equipment to identify any risks of plastic pellet loss, along with opportunities to reduce the risk of release at areas such as loading, transport, drainage and wastewater access points.