As a manufacturing business we aim to use resources as efficiently as we can.
This is true whether they be the materials required to make thread, yarn or zips, the energy we need to power our factories and machinery, or the water used by the processes we employ.
Through clean and efficient operations we seek to both minimise our impact on the environment, as well as increase our cost effectiveness.
In 2011, we used over 140 thousand tonnes of materials. This includes polyester, cotton and acrylic fibres, polyester and nylon filament, grey thread, dyes and chemicals, as well as packaging materials. We measure and monitor how effectively we convert materials at each step of the manufacturing process to ensure that we keep the amount of waste we produce to a minimum.
As a result, the waste that we generated as a proportion of the primary raw materials was only 3%. This does not include packaging waste from our suppliers.
We also seek to reduce our packaging, particularly through minimising the amount of materials we use. For example, by re-engineering the cone on which our industrial thread is wound, our business in India has reduced the amount of plastic used by over 30%, without affecting its strength or any other performance characteristics (view case study – Coats India Reduces Plastic Consumption by a Third).
Last year, we used 969 million kWh of energy (electricity and fossil fuels) in manufacturing our products, which equates to 14.3 kWh per kg of dyed goods. This is a reduction of 7% on the previous year on a like-for-like basis (2010: 1,038 million kWh, 15.4 kWh per kg of dyed product).
This has continued the trend of recent years as shown in the case study – The Energy Reduction Story. We have achieved this through a combination of investment in energy efficiency – such as utilising better manufacturing schedules, regular maintenance and optimising building management – as well as in new technology.
Water is another crucial resource. In some of the locations where we operate water is often scarce, and so we have a responsibility to use it in a clean and efficient way. In 2011, we used over 9 million cubic metres of water, although much of this was reused or returned to the natural environment after suitable treatment. Over the past year, we have continued to reduce our water consumption, for example by implementing rain water harvesting at our plants in Colombia and Indonesia. In other parts of the world, we have trialled the use of Reverse Osmosis plants to improve the quality of water we use, giving us alternatives to using water from municipal supply or to recycle water to a sufficient level that can be reused in our manufacturing processes.
Over the coming year we will be re-confirming our baselines of consumption relative to output for each of our environmental issues (use of materials, energy and water). We will then identify options for improved efficiency and derive targets for 2013 onwards.