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Our Environment

  • Our Standards
  • Our Manufacturing
  • Our Environment
  • Our Partners
  • Our Communities
  • Our People
  • Our Products

We recognise that the Earth’s climate is changing, and as an energy user we have a role to play in reducing our contribution to it.  The burning of fossil fuels for power and heat is the single largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally.

At Coats, we constantly review our manufacturing processes to improve efficiency, not only to minimise the cost to our business but also to minimise the impact we have on the world around us.  As such, we have focused on reducing our energy consumption and have seen a significant reduction in our carbon footprint since 2011.

In 2016 we used 829 million kWh of energy (electricity and fossil fuels) in manufacturing our products, which is an overall reduction of 0.5% in total energy use from 2015 (833 million kWh) and 3.4% from 2014 (858 million kWh).

Even though our processes are ever more energy efficient, the total carbon footprint of our manufacturing operations this year (Scope 1 and Scope 2*, **) was 319 thousand tonnes, 4% up compared to the previous year (305 thousand tonnes). In terms of the products we manufacture, we have increased slightly our greenhouse gas emissions per unit of dyed product to 4.6 kg CO2e per kg (compared to 4.5 in 2015).

Although we have used less energy across the company during 2016, the overall increase in our carbon footprint derives from:

  • a shifting balance of production between countries
  • an increase in in-house electricity generation in Bangladesh due to shortages in grid supply
  • a 2% increase in orders for manufactured goods

Despite the latest annual fluctuation in our GHG figures, our overall carbon impact has reduced by 17% since 2011, our new base line. The reduction to date has been achieved through a combination of investment in energy efficiency – such as using better manufacturing schedules, regular maintenance and optimising building management – as well as investment in new technology. In addition, we have actively sought out increased renewable energy sources for our electricity use across our operations. Over the last six years, our renewable energy consumption has increased by over 300% compared to 2011.

 

*Based on IEA CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion, OECD/IEA, Paris, 2016 and the 2016 UK DEFRA GHG reporting guidance and conversion factors. Includes Scope 1 – direct emissions from the combustion of fuel (gas, coal and oil) and Scope 2 – indirect emissions from the purchase of electricity.

**Emissions reported are from energy consumption in our global operations, and exclude emissions from refrigerant usage and business air travel, which each represent less than 2% of GHG emissions resulting from our manufacturing operations.

In our production processes we use water, which is a scarce resource in many areas in which we operate.  We believe it is our responsibility to use water as efficiently as possible, reuse as much as we can and return the waste water to the environment in a clean state.  This helps us to minimise the impact we have on the world around us. 

Coats Sri Lanka built and started-up a new Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) with a capacity to treat 800 cubic metres of effluent per day.  This is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka and we are very proud of it!  The plant treats the effluent using cutting edge technology and recycles the cleaned water back for reuse in processing. The plant recycles 95% of the waste effluent back for dyeing purposes.

Currently the primary source of water supply around the area where we operate our facility is ground wells. With the new ETP, the Coats factory can also reduce its water extraction from ground wells by 90% - a big step towards becoming a self-sustainable plant.  By recycling and reusing water we can minimise our water outtake and ensure that water is not taken away from the community’s water bed.

 

 

 

At Coats, we follow an industry recognised waste management hierarchy – if we can’t reduce the materials used, we reuse them.  If we can’t reuse them, we recycle them. Throwing away is always a last resort.

Increasing plastic recycling by 5%

In 2015, Coats India managed to increase its plastic recycling by nearly 5% compared to 2014, saving almost 200 tonnes of plastic.  It did this by recycling the plastic multiplex cone centres used in the dyeing process.  The site also started using reusable metal dye centres, reducing its plastic consumption by another 9 tonnes.  Together, the site saved in total more than 200 tonnes of plastic during the year.

At Coats India, the undyed grey thread arrives at the plant wound around a multiflex centre.  This core is collapsible and can only be used once.  After dyeing the thread, the cores usually become deformed and have to be thrown away.

The site came up with a clever solution.  Rather than discarding these deformed plastic cores it recycled them into the plastic cones and tubes that are used for the finished product.

Multiflex centre:

Multiflex centre cone

Metal dye centre:

Metal dye centre

Finished product cones made from recycled plastic:

Recycled cones used in India

 

 

Crude oil spills can have very serious consequences for the environment.  It is less well known that cooking oil, too, can be very harmful.  Every litre of cooking oil spilled down the drain can result in many more litres of contaminated water.  This in turn may kill fish and cause gastrointestinal illnesses in humans.  Incorrect disposal of cooking oil is also challenging for hygienic reasons.  Spills can cause blockages and smelly odours in the drains.  As a great food resource they can also attract rats and cockroaches.   

To address this issue Coats Mexico has implemented a system to recycle used cooking oil and transform it into biodiesel. Coats employees bring bottles of used cooking oil from home to an onsite collection point. A company then recycles the oil to biodiesel which is used as fuel for car engines.  Approximately one litre of cooking oil can be transformed into one litre of biodiesel.

To create the biodiesel the cooking oil goes through a multi-step process.  As a first step the oil is processed and ground to produce ‘raw oil’.  Next the raw oil is refined before it goes through ‘transesterification’ – a chemical process to get the final output biodiesel.  As a by-product, glycerine is produced from the process.  This is often used in cosmetics as a skin moisturiser.

The use of biodiesel from cooking oil has a number of environmental advantages including minimising the impact on wastewater treatments, less river pollution and reduced CO2 emissions.  By running this project Coats aims to reduce the private household waste of our employees and encourage the correct disposal of cooking oil.  The project has been carried out in collaboration with Environmental Department of the State (SEDEMA).

“Limiting our impact on the environment is a fundamental part of our business and is something everyone in Coats takes seriously. Coats senior management will define objectives and targets to achieve the highest practicable standard of environmental performance for the Group.”   

Coats Environmental Policy

We have a responsibility towards the environment and to the communities where we operate and we take that responsibility very seriously. Treating our effluent properly is a vital part of it.  One of our goals is for all our sites to comply with local regulatory requirements and meet Coats’ ambitious global Environmental Standards (which often go beyond local law).

In 2014 Coats Egypt celebrated the installation of a new effluent treatment plant (ETP).  This has improved wastewater quality from the site by reducing temperature and several other quality indicators including chemical oxygen demand (COD), biological oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS), oil and grease, and acidity/alkalinity (pH).

The wastewater conforms to the local regulatory requirements and further improvements are underway to reach Coats’ global Environmental Standards.

Picture 1: New effluent treatment plant
New effluent treatment plant

Picture 2: The Coats Egypt team
The Coats Egypt team

Picture 3: Wastewater management
Wastewater management

 

Reducing our environmental impact is very important to Coats. To help achieve this we expect our sites to continually look for improvements in their techniques, processes and systems which will help generate efficiencies and reduce our impact.  

At the beginning of 2013, our Sevier plant in Marion, North Carolina installed a new solvent distillation unit to recover waste ethanol used in the bonding process.  Before the unit was installed, the process of bonding generated hazardous waste which by law had to be shipped to a specialised processing company - in 2012 this waste amounted to almost 20 tonnes.

Now the new waste recovery system allows the Bonding Operations team to safely recover the ethanol and eliminates the generation of hazardous waste.  The by-product of the distillation process is inert, round ‘cakes’ of nylon resin that can be disposed of without damaging the environment. 

This has been a postitive initiaitve for the environment and for plant’s balance sheet. By installing the waste recovery system the Sevier plant has made cost savings in the following ways:

  • having to buy less virgin ethanol and fewer shipping drums
  • reduced hazardous waste shipping and waste permit fees
  • fewer regulatory requirements and hazardous waste training costs

Ethanol waste as a nylon resin cake

Coats’ influence often extends beyond the perimeters of our operating sites.  With many of our employees coming from and living in the local community, we believe that we have a responsibility to make a positive impact locally.  One way we can do that is by maintaining and improving the neighbourhoods local to our factories.

Coats Egypt has completed a project to clean and improve the area around its factory.  30 employees took part, collecting rubbish from the major road outside the factory and planting, trimming and watering plants.

The project noticeably improved the whole area, not just the section in front of the Coats site.  One positive outcome was that neighbouring factories were so inspired by the team’s work they did the same in front of their sites.

Coats employees are proud of this project.  Arriving at the factory every day surrounded by the clean and the green has boosted morale and brought a positive energy to the site. 

Coats Egypt project

As a major manufacturer, we are always looking for ways to lessen our impact on the environment and, to this end, aim to reduce, recycle or re-use wherever we can, thinking creatively about all the materials we use in our production processes.

In Mexico, this has led to a saving of the timber used in the production of around 3,400 pallets annually.

Coats Mexico’s Distribution Manager, Julian Gonzalez, explains how this came about.

‘We looked at how we were shipping export materials from Mexico, which involved using wood-treated pallets. One tree produces wood for up to 10 pallets and from 2006-14 we had bought 95,452 pallets. That is around 9,500 trees; approximately 46 acres – or the equivalent of 64 football stadiums.

‘As an environmental initiative, we asked ourselves if we could employ any of our waste to create an alternative and began looking at the plastic waste from our empty dye-springs. We got in touch with a number of companies and, after much research and testing, got the go-ahead from Novatec, a plastics manufacturer specialising in pallets and containers.

‘We export around 4,200 pallets a year, and calculate that we can change about 81%, so moving from wood to plastic will allow us to avoid using around 3,400 wooden pallets. We think we can reuse around 30% of the plastic pallets, including some that we receive from Coats & Clark, and Coats American. And, since these plastic pallets are cheaper than wood, we also get to save some money while we are looking after the environment.’

Plastic pallets in Coats MexicoPlastic pallets in Mexico_2
Platic pallets in Coats Mexico are made from plastic waste

In 2013 Coats India invested in a wood-fired thermic fluid heater for its interlinings manufacturing factory in Ambasamudram, India.  The new system generates heat by burning bush wood collected from wastelands in Tamil Nadu.

The decision was taken partly in reaction to the unprecendent rise in the price of fossil fuels during 2011 and 2012, which pushed up manufacturing costs, but also from the fact that burning sustainable biomass is a more atttractive alternative to fossil fuels since it has a much lower environmental impact.

The bush wood used in the heater grows quickly and doesn’t require any irrigation.  Biomass fuels are also considered a carbon neutral fuel source because the plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmostphere during growth.  Burning fossil fuels on the other hand generates greenhouse gas emissions which drive climate change.

The equipment took three months to install and commission and was delivered early in 2013.  To date it has already generated cost savings and overall the project has been been good for the environment as well as the local economy as local people collect and sell the wood that is used.

Coats India Wood Fired Boiler

At Coats we aim to reduce the impact our operations has on the environment.  In addition, we support those initiatives that engage our employees and inspire behaviour change that can reduce carbon emissions. 

Depending on the distance and mode of transport, travelling to and from work every day can create considerable greenhouse gas emissions.  Many of us use our own cars and motorbikes which create higher per mile emissions than public transport or walking or cycling.

As part of their wider ‘Go Green’ programme our team in Indonesia is encouraging its employees to leave their cars and motorbikes at home and come to work by bicycle.  Thursdays are ‘Coats Biking Days’ which help make cycling more than just a solo activity – lots of colleagues are doing it! 

Cycling not only reduces individual carbon emissions, it is also a way to add more exercise into our daily routine.  To encourage cycling any day of the week, the Coats Indonesia has also made investments in bike parking areas, showers and changing rooms which make arriving to work after a bike ride more convenient and pleasant.  For those new to cycling or concerned about safety, training courses in safe riding have also been offered.

The initiative has many benefits – it is good for the planet, it helps our people be healthier, it builds team spirit and for many it is just good fun!

Bike to Work Indonesia

 

Wherever possible, Coats aims to reduce the impact of its operations on the environment.  As a result of our focus on converting demand to renewable sources and improving our energy efficiency, emissions of greenhouse gases from our global operations were reduced by 11% in 2012, and by more than 50% compared to 2000. 

In the Tamil Nadu region of India, the state run energy grid has proven inadequate to meet the demands of industry, resulting in inconsistent power supply and power cuts that can last for many hours.  In addition, the limited state supply has seen energy costs increase by 37%.  This has impacted our mills in Madurai, Ambas and Tuticorin, and to maintain production, our Indian team had to run costly diesel generators to supplement the energy available from the grid.  

A longer-term solution to reduce reliance on the grid and the generators was needed.  The management in India considered electricity from wind power as one option amongst a choice of other private producers who used coal, gas or bio fuel.  However, the desire to reduce carbon emissions and source non-polluting energy was a big influence on the team’s final choice.   

As a result, Madura Coats in India is now sourcing renewable energy from a company that uses wind power to generate electricity.  20% of the electricity used in Coats India now comes from a clean source, emitting zero emissions from its generation.   Furthermore, the price of wind power is less likely to vary over time and is lower in cost than the state owned supply.

India wind turbine 3

 

Improving the environmental footprint of our operations is a priority for Coats.  Where possible we encourage our local teams to save energy or find other efficiencies which will reduce carbon emissions. 

At Coats Shenzhen, in southern China, many of our employees stay in a dormitory on site.  Until recently the heating of the hot water for the dormitory was generated using a combination of a diesel boiler and solar panels.  The system was expensive and inefficient and limited hot water availability in the dormitory to certain hours a day.  Relying heavily on diesel fuel, it also contributed a large amount to the site’s greenhouse gas emissions.   

To find a better alternative, the Regional Manufacturing Director in Shenzhen assembled a multi-discipline team from the engineering, admin and purchasing departments.  They came up with an innovative new system which takes waste water from the dyeing process, still hot from production, and pumps it through a heat exchanger.  The exchanger then heats water which is transferred on to the dormitory.   Whenever the dyehouse is in operation, usually 24 hours per day, there is heat and hot water available for the showers and laundry – not usual in most company dormitories.  Note that to ensure there is no risk of our operators showering in contaminated water (if a heat exchanger got punctured) we have two independent sensors that check colour and conductivity.  If there is any increase in either of these parameters, the system is shut down for checking. 

The new method is not only more reliable, it also saves US$40,000 per year in diesel fuel.  This amounts to annual savings of over 89,000 kilograms of carbon (CO2 equivalent).  This is a great example of innovation that brings environmental improvement, cost savings, time efficiency and greater comfort for our people. 

China team in front of control panel

Here is the team that proposed and implemented the scheme, standing in front of the control panel

China dormitories

Picture of the dormitories, with the solar panels on the roof.  (Not enough energy is generated by the solar panels alone.)

 

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