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2006 Sustainability Report
About Environment

Environment


Finding New Ways to Manage Waste

When it comes to waste management, an old idea is taking a new direction. In ancient times, cultures around the world wasted nothing in terms of resources. Their survival depended upon maximizing what the environment made available to them. For years, companies committed to sustainability have aspired to attain that same goal, with a focus on the waste management hierarchy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover. The goal is to move our waste up the hierarchy, with the ultimate goal of reducing to zero waste.

Dow Corning has remained steadfast to keeping Reduce as one of its highest priorities – whether it’s reducing the amount of waste generated in the manufacturing process or reducing energy consumption. It simply makes sense to avoid generating waste in the first place.

The second step in the hierarchy is Reuse, which either extends a product’s life or reuses the same material, but in a new product. Consider one Dow Corning example: A by-product generated during the production of a raw material for tires is being used as a valuable raw material in an entirely different process – now improving the manufacture and performance of wires, cables, consumer goods and automotive parts.

The third step is Recycle. Materials that cannot be reused in their original form may be “converted” into new use. Dow Corning’s Materials Conversion program is converting, or recycling, its waste, scrap and off-spec silicone materials that were previously land-filled or incinerated. The materials are converted and used in new and existing applications where they meet customers' specifications.

However, despite all these efforts, some material still ends up in the waste stream. To extract value from the waste stream, we have moved to the next level in the hierarchy, which is Recover. In certain cases, we are able to send waste material for energy recovery. This is another way that we are creatively transforming a problem into a solution.

No single approach is sufficient to address the problem of waste, but together, these initiatives are helping Dow Corning reduce its environmental footprint. That’s a step in the right direction.

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