In 2015, we used over 139 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 3.8% in 2015, down from 3.9% in 2014, and 4.0% in 2013. The figures include only our own generated waste, and hence exclude packaging waste received from our suppliers.
In China, for example, successful zip engineering has meant our Opti S series is now made with less material, whilst maintaining the superior strength and reliability which defines this range. In addition to saving valuable resources in production, the zips have further potential to reduce their environmental impact after they leave our factory.
We also seek to reduce our packaging, particularly through minimising the amount of materials we use. Coats is an advocate of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle waste hierarchy – first we try to reduce the volume of virgin materials in our packaging, what we can’t remove we try to reuse, and what we can’t reuse we try to recycle.
For the last 4 years Coats Honduras, for example, has been running a plastic cone recovery and reuse programme. We have successfully reused 6.8 million cones, saving over 160 tonnes of plastic. In addition, we are increasing the proportion of recycled materials in our packaging. In 2015, 57% of our packaging was made from recycled materials.
In 2015 we used 870 million kWh of energy (electricity and fossil fuels) in manufacturing our products, which equates to 12.5 kWh per kg of dyed goods. This is an overall reduction of 4% in total energy use from 2014 (910 million kWh) and 6% from 2013 (923 million kWh). Our energy use per unit of production has decreased even further, 8% from 2014 (13.6 kWh per kg of dyed goods).
The reduction to date has been achieved 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.
We are continually seeing an increase in the amount of energy taken from renewable sources, particularly hydro and wind power, and also an increase in the amount of energy produced at our sites through, e.g. biomass generation. Following the 2013 installation in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in 2014 we set up a number of new biomass steam generation plants, such as in Hanoi, Vietnam and India, as well as heat recovery systems in Mexico and Indonesia. In addition to these large scale initiatives, some smaller modifications are giving us rewards too. The case study from China illustrates that by replacing some of our conventional materials in our operations, we can also save energy.
Additionally, our Turkey plant has managed to gain over a 10% reduction in energy use per kg or product through modifications to their spinning process.
Water is another vital 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 2015, we used 8.7 million cubic metres of water, down from 8.9 million cubic metres of water in 2014 (latter figure has been restated to include recycled water). A significant proportion of this water is re-used or returned to the natural environment after suitable treatment.
Reverse osmosis plants 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 re-used in our manufacturing processes.
Over the past few years we have focused particularly on our water consumption and encouraged further use of reusable sources. For instance we introduced a new reverse osmosis plant at our site in Faridabad, northern India and identified options for improved efficiency. As a result Coats India conserved about 105 million litres of water in 2015. Check out our case study for the full story.