Effluent and emissions

Focus areas


Sustainability Pillars

Modern Effluent Treatment

Waste is generated from our operations, both in the form of physical materials waste from our end to end supply chain activities and effluent waste water and sludge generated from our wet processing activities.


Recognising these two different forms of waste output from our business, we have elected to pull both of these important focal areas under a revised Sustainability Pillar which we will now refer to as our Waste Pillar. Our Environmental Policy covers our aims and objectives around waste.

Reducing materials usage and minimising the impact of the materials that we consume is a very high priority for us. In 2019, we adopted the European Union’s Waste Framework Directive as our basis for waste management and the resulting waste catalogue contains 35 different waste categories that cover all material items present in a Coats unit. This gives increased transparency and understanding of waste generation streams across our business, and assists us in identification of opportunities for reduction, and where possible, prevention.

Our strategy for reducing overall waste, is to prioritise reduction in its generation through process and product redesign, followed by implementation of reuse and recycling initiatives. We are committed to increase the degree of circularity at Coats, evolving our manufacturing processes, material flows and products from a linear (take, make, discard) to a circular (reduce, reuse, recycle) model.

During 2022, the total waste generated across Coats business units was 14.6 thousand tonnes, compared with 22.5 thousand tonnes in 2021. Analysis of waste generated in 2022 shows that 19% of waste material from our operations is linked directly to our products, with other high volume categories including paper, cardboard and wood packaging 18%, sludge 27% and plastic packaging 10%. Of our waste generated, 62% was recycled or reused, with 13% disposed of in landfill (this is down from 14% in 2021 and 19% in 2020). Globally, 58% of our units have achieved sending zero waste to landfill through 2022.

As per our 2019 to 2022 sustainability strategy, our target for waste reduction in 2022 was delivery of a 25% reduction in the percentage of waste generated from our 2018 baseline. Against this target, we are exceptionally proud to have fully achieved this target with a full 25% reduction delivered – a significant improvement from the 1.4% reduction reported for 2021.

Considerable progress was made throughout the year in working collaboratively with our supply chain partners to identify and implement new waste reduction and circularity initiatives. Examples of circularity on packaging materials have entailed us working closely with strategic suppliers where uplift programs have been instituted on our paper and cardboard waste, enabling it to be repulped and reconstituted into new paper and cardboard packaging materials. With plastic, many of our units now grind thermoplastic dye centres and customer returned thread supports into plastic chips and return these to suppliers enabling their melting and reformation into new plastic items. We have implemented tripartite service agreements with our primary chemical suppliers and a network of global specialist collection players, enabling recovery of empty chemicals drums and plastic intermediary bulk containers and redistribution to our suppliers for their reuse.

In our recently acquired footwear components business, structural components made from thermoplastic or cellulosic materials are supplied to the customer in a ‘sheet’ from which customers cut out parts which undergo secondary processing. This creates up to 20% waste, which is taken back by Coats to remelt/recycle.

Significant progress has also been made in reducing the packaging we supply with our products when shipped to customers. We have strategically eliminated use of plastic sleeves across black and dark coloured thread cones , resulting in elimination of 14.2 million plastic sleeves from our value chain, and have advanced the use of recycled plastic in cones and vicones, increasing recycled plastic use by 36% in 2022.

2022 Solid Waste Management
Non-hazardous Waste Hazardous Waste Total Waste
Tonnes to landfill
1,354 605 1,959
Tonnes recycled/reused
8,348 706 9,054
Tones incinerated
672 1,139 1,811
Total Tonnes
10,875 3,729 14,604
Waste %
3.8% 11.0% 14.8%

In 2022, further focus has been given to selection and optimised use of chemistry for physical/chemical effluent treatment systems, resulting in enhanced efficacy in coagulation and flocculation, resulting in reduced generation of sludge. Good progress has also been made in weight reduction of sludge through optimisation of filter-press operation and enhanced sludge drying, resulting in more effective water extraction.

In our next strategy period from 2023 until 2026, our primary focus for materials waste will be elimination of waste to landfill across all units globally. Our target for 2026 is delivery of zero waste to landfill, and this will be achieved by higher granularity analysis of waste streams which today continue to be diverted to landfill, with improved segregation and identification of opportunities for circularity, recycling and reuse.

Read more case studies

Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals

We signed up to the ZDHC programme in 2016 and committed to aligning our effluent standards with those of the programme in 2018. We adopted the ZDHC conventional parameters with foundational limits as our Coats internal standards in 2019.

Initially these limits were applied only to effluent discharged from the factory, but in 2019 the scope was expanded to include sludge. Sludge is essentially the solid residue created during the effluent treatment process, during which some chemicals are precipitated out of the effluent in order to clean it. While some contaminants in effluent can be destroyed through the treatment process, in other cases this is not possible as the chemical remains either in the effluent or in the sludge. Historically much effluent treatment technology has been aimed at removing chemicals that were unwanted in the effluent precisely by ensuring that they ended up in the sludge, however focus on analysis of effluent and sludge, means that for these durable chemicals the only option is to prevent them being used in processing in the first place. We are wholly supportive of this approach and continue to work closely with our key dye and chemical suppliers (many of whom are ZDHC affiliates themselves), to work out how to continue to reduce the chemical load needed to successfully process the fibres that we work with.

Our goal is to have all of our units meeting the ZDHC standards, and in 2022, 92% of our effluent and sludge in those countries where testing is possible was compliant with the ZDHC standard, up from 82% in 2021. Due to our strategic restructuring programme in the Americas and Mexico, we have seen significant changes in our manufacturing product range and mix in 2022 in Mexico, and this has driven a change in the composition of dyeing auxiliary chemicals in our Mexican Orizaba site, resulting in a small number of ZDHC parameters being marginally out of specification. Our leadership team in Mexico are actively addressing this situation through a comprehensive deep-dive of utilised chemistry as well as review of all effluent treatment plant sub-processes. We are confident that we will be able to progress to 100% compliance in 2023, and such is the importance of the ZDHC focus, we will continue to target 100% compliance through our 2023 to 2026 strategy period.

Read more case studies

Waste: 100% all effluent to meet ZDHC limits

Unit 2022* 2021 restated1 2021 2020 restated1 2020 2019 restated1 2019 2018 restated1 2018
% of water discharged as effluent
% 76% 68% 68% 68% 69% 62% 61% 65% 65%
Treated effluent discharge to surface water course
Million cubic metres 2.5 3.0 3.0 2.7 2.7 3.2 3.2 4.1 4.0
Effluent discharge to offsite treatment plant
Million cubic metres 0.9 1.1 1.2 1.0 1.1 1.3 1.3 1.1 1.3
Total effluent discharge
Million cubic metres 3.4 4.1 4.2 3.7 3.8 4.5 4.5 5.2 5.3
Environmental prosecutions
No. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
% effluent that is compliant with ZDHC
% 92% 82% 82% 74% 74% 63% 63%
Investment in effluent treatment plants and technology
Million $ 1.5 2.2 2.2 1.5 1.5 4.6 4.6
Total waste generated
Tonnes 14,604 22,530 23,425 17,558 18,499 24,207 25,322 23,072 24,288
waste generated8
Tonnes 3,570 5,754 5,868 4,074 4,031 7,905 8,171 6,924 7,150
% total material waste
% 14.8% 19.4% 19.6% 19.0% 19.4% 21.1% 21.4% 19.7% 20.2%
% movement in waste % compared to 2018
% movement -25% -1% -3% -3% -4% 7% 6%
Reused or recycled waste
% of waste 62% 67% 67% 61% 62% 67% 67% 69% 69%
Waste going to landfill
Tonnes 1,959 2,977 3,532 3,700 3,060
% units sending zero waste to landfill
% 58% 46% 45% 49% 47% 58% 65% 61%

1Due to the sale of our Brazilian and Argentinian businesses in 2022 all years from 2018 to 2022 have been restated to exclude these businesses.

*2022 Data - All data excludes Brazil/Argentina, except emissions data, H&S data and economic value data.

8Hazardous waste includes all of the following categories: dyes, chemicals, solid and aqueous sludge, fuels, oils, toner cartridges, hazardous packaging waste, hazardous cleaning cloths, items containing CFCs, HCFCs & HFCs, batteries, inorganic waste, organic waste, laboratory waste, medical waste, construction materials containing asbestos, fluorescent tubes, paints, inks, adhesives, resins and electrical and electronic equipment.

For more information on our historical performance, please download Performance Summary Data

Waste: 100% all effluent to meet ZDHC limits

Unit 2017 2016 2015 2014
% of water discharged as waste effluent
% 77% 79% 80% 87%
Treated effluent discharge to surface water course
Million cubic metres 4.8 5.0 4.9 5.4
Effluent discharge to offsite treatment plant
Million cubic metres 1.4 1.4 1.6 1.6
Total effluent discharge
Million cubic metres 6.2 6.4 6.6 7.0
Environmental prosecutions
No. 0 0 0 0
% effluent that is compliant with ZDHC
% - - - -
Investment in effluent treatment plants and technology
Million $ 2.2 1.6 0.9 3.4
Total carbon footprint
Thousand tonnes CO2e 311 319 305 322
Scope 1 emissions footprint
Thousand tonnes CO2e 71.8 70.9 67.8 81.5
Scope 1 CO2 emissions
Tonnes CO2 - - - -
Scope 1 CH4 emissions
Tonnes CH4 - - - -
Scope 1 N2O emissions
Tonnes N2O - - - -
Scope 2 emissions footprint (location based)
Thousand tonnes CO2e 238.8 247.6 237.6 240.4
Scope 2 CO2 emissions
Tonnes CO2 - - - -
Scope 2 CH4 emissions
Tonnes CH4 - - - -
Scope 2 N2O emissions
Tonnes N2O - - - -
% scope 2 emissions covered by renewable certificates
% - - - -
Emissions volume intensity (location based)
CO2e kg/kg production 4.3 4.6 4.5 4.9
Emissions value intensity (location based)
CO2e tonnes/$m sales 206 219 208 210

For more information on our historical performance download Performance Summary Data