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Intel Corporation
Engaging Corporate-Level Support for Plant-Level Water Initiatives

Intel operates semiconductor fabrication and assembly/test facilities in seven countries around the world. Water is a primary production input used to clean silicon wafers during fabrication and packaging. Because of the sensitive nature of these processes, ultra pure water must be used. Several of Intel’s plants operate in locations where water resources are limited, such as Chandler, AZ; Albuquerque, NM; Hudson, MA; and Israel.

Because the company operates water-intensive manufacturing plants, it has had to share limited resources with competing water needs in the local community, such as municipal drinking water and sanitation, ecosystem protection, agricultural production, and other industrial uses. Historically, Intel has responded to the community challenges at the plant level in different ways, reflecting local concerns and conditions. For example:

  • In Albuquerque, NM, Intel used an integrated water management system to increase water purification efficiency and to improve water reuse. The site has offset over 50% of its freshwater needs through water reuse.
  • In Chandler, AZ, Intel sends treated process water to an off-site, city-maintained treatment plant that further treats the water to drinking water standards before re-injecting nearly 1.5 million gallons per day to recharge the underground aquifer.
  • In Hudson, MA, a state-of-the-art water management facility allowed Intel to boost production by more than 50% without increasing current levels of discharge to the local treatment plant.
  • In Israel, wastewater is treated to stringent quality standards and then used for irrigating crops.

Although Intel recognizes the importance of meeting local water challenges with responses tailored to local conditions, it also realizes that it needs to support local efforts with broader company resources. As part of a strategic water management program, Intel established the Corporate Industrial Water Management Group to develop and implement program elements to improve water use efficiency at their major manufacturing sites. The group includes representatives from fabrication sites, corporate technology development experts, and regulatory compliance staff. The goals of the group are to:

  • Develop water management strategies, standards, and tools to provide effective use and reuse of industrial water to satisfy new and existing manufacturing site requirements for sustainability, growth, and environmental compliance
  • Develop tools to effectively communicate water use data throughout the corporation

The Group is helping Intel design appropriate local responses to local issues in the context of a company-wide approach. A number of benefits have emerged from Intel’s water management efforts:

  • Intel’s worldwide water use has increased at a rate less than the production growth
  • Principles of water management supporting water reduction, reuse, and recycling are now applied across all Intel sites and support each facility’s development of water management strategies
  • The Group has developed a set of technology packages that can be applied to meet the diverse water needs of each facility
  • Intel has developed an Environmental Awareness team dedicated to raising awareness about water issues within the company and externally
  • Intel’s efforts have improved relations with local communities in water-stressed areas, such as New Mexico and Arizona

Module 4