The more efficient we are in using materials to make our products, the less waste we produce, the fewer resources we consume and the more money we save. That is why we first work toward absolute material utilization throughout our manufacturing processes followed by eliminating, minimizing, reusing and recycling the waste materials we do produce.
We employ waste mapping to track waste streams back to their sources in our facilities worldwide. Using lean manufacturing methodologies, each facility eliminates or minimizes the identified wastes one source at a time, typically starting with the highest-volume or highest-cost waste stream identified through the mapping process. We explore reuse and recycling options for wastes that remain.
Our Resource Management Subcommittee of our Sustainability Committee is helping us move beyond manufacturing to other areas in the company, such as product formulation and raw materials management, where waste can be eliminated or minimized.
We are measuring our performance against two goals:
- A 25 percent reduction in total waste disposal intensity by 2025 from a 2017 baseline.
- Achieve zero landfill status from process waste at 35 percent of PPG manufacturing and research and development (R&D) locations by 2025.
We disposed of 134,100 metric tons of waste in 2018, which was a 5.0 percent reduction from prior year. Our total waste disposal intensity was 3.2 metric tons per 100 metric tons of production, which was a 5.6 percent decline from 2017. Of our manufacturing and R&D locations, 29 percent had zero landfilled process waste.
Achieving our waste goals will be challenging unless we improve performance at our largest waste-producing sites. In 2018, we identified the top 10 locations in each region and conducted waste workshops at two of them. In 2019, we will appoint regional waste coordinators who will be responsible for working with their top waste-producing sites through workshops and the development of location-specific waste minimization plans.
In addition to focusing on our top waste-producing sites, we are cultivating a culture of waste minimization throughout the entire organization using a life-cycle approach. We are also identifying our top-performing sites and sharing their good practices with all locations.
Some of our past waste-disposal methods, which were legal and accepted industry practices in their time, can require environmental remediation or land reclamation to meet today’s regulations, our stringent internal standards or stakeholder expectations.
We use a life cycle approach to assess and manage environmental issues and impacts at all of our facilities. A site assessment, which we require at various stages in a facility’s life cycle, provides an environmental evaluation according to standard industry practices. The assessment determines what, if any, remediation activities or restrictions will be implemented to meet our ultimate goal—each facility is in a condition in which it can be reused safely and productively.
Read about specific remediation projects in our 2018 annual report.
Spills and Releases
Our facilities have strong management practices in place to prevent spills and releases, and our corporate spill-elimination standard requires the establishment of a spill-elimination program at each facility.
The program consists of the following steps:
- Assessment of a facility’s spill elimination performance;
- Improvement plans based on prioritized assessment of risk;
- Corrective action plan with defined dates; and
- Completion of planned action.
An effective tool used by our locations is spill-elimination workshops. During these events, employees from various functions use a rapid improvement process and checklist to assess their facilities to identify areas for immediate improvement, as well as opportunities for longer-term action planning.
Our thresholds for reporting a spill are stringent, allowing us to identify issues before they become significant. These thresholds vary by material and government-reportable levels, with the lowest threshold at 11 pounds (5 kilograms). Our internal reporting requirements also include spills that are fully captured by secondary containment and recovered with no environmental impact.
Our median spill in 2018 was 42 pounds (19 kilograms), with 99.1 percent contained onsite. We had two significant spills during the year that totaled 5,850 gallons (22 145 liters). Both of these spills were confined to secondary containment.
Our goal is at least a 65 percent improvement in our spills and releases rate by 2025 from a 2017 baseline. Our 2018 rate of 1.32 spills and releases per 1,000 employees was 28.3 percent lower than prior year.
A 2018 analysis of our past spills revealed the top three causes were the movement of containers, transfer of liquids from one tank to another and equipment failure. To close these gaps, we:
- Conducted additional employee training;
- Set new requirements for forklifts and increased their corporate auditing requirements; and
- Required each location to have an active preventative maintenance program in place.
We also continued the Walk the Line initiative, which requires operators to walk the production line prior to transferring a liquid from one point to another. This visual check helps identify potential causes of spills, such as pumping liquid to a wrong tank or one that is already full or having a drain valve open somewhere in the system. A new requirement for 2018 was each location conducting a self-assessment of its Walk the Line performance.