Intel Generated 27% More Chemical Waste in 2010 than 2009

Last week Intel released its tenth annual CSR report, 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report. While earlier this year we reported on Intel’s large purchase of renewable energy credits and innovative algae biofuel project, the five-year numbers in the report show ups and downs in several areas.

2009 was a tough year all over and business at Intel was no exception. The company saw dips in net revenue, net income, and totaled 79,800 employees at year end, down from 83,900 in 2008 and 94,100 in 2006. 2010 saw a significant rebound in these areas, but saw a continuing decline in others. Since 2006 the number of women in Intel’s global workforce has decreased as well as the company’s investment in training dollars.

Environmental Leader reported on Intel’s 2010 chemical waste, solid waste, withdrawn water and greenhouse gas emissions numbers, all of which were worse than in 2009. Most notably, Intel generated 27 percent more chemical waste in 2010 than in 2009, its highest point in five years. The company told Environmental Leader that its waste reduction programs saved more than $5 million during the same time period and it began to implement measures to reduce its two largest chemical waste streams with plans extending into 2011.

The amount of recycled solid waste went up 3 percent, but total solid waste generated was up 15 percent over 2009 levels. Greenhouse gas emissions were up slightly from 2009 levels, but down 47 percent from 2006.

Although 2009 and 2010 were difficult years, Suzanne Fallender, Intel Corporate Responsibility Officer responded to Environmental Leader’s article optimistically. Fallender points out that Intel reported record revenues in 2010, and other financial and economic indicators are on the rise. Fallender says, “We continued to make capital investments in 2010 to reduce our overall impact and fund innovative process improvements and projects in support of our objective to operate with the smallest environmental manufacturing footprint possible as we grow in the coming years.”

While Intel works out some of their operational stumbling blocks, their social responsibility numbers are encouraging. The employee volunteerism rate reached an all-time high in 2008 at 58 percent, but after falling to 38 percent in 2009, it was back up to 48 percent in 2010. Intel’s worldwide charitable giving increased in 2010 to $126 million, and the number of teachers trained through Intel’s Teach Program has steadily risen from 2006-2010 with no dips and the biggest gain from 2009-2010.

Intel’s CSR report shows that the last half of the decade has been a rocky road, but the company continues to support its social and environmental initiatives. It has won several awards for its reputation as a good place to work, including 2nd of 100 Best Corporate Citizens in Corporate Responsibility magazine, 5th on Newsweek’s 2010 Top 500 Green Companies in America list, and one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers according to Working Mother magazine. 2010 is also the third year that Intel has linked a portion of every employee’s compensation to environmental metrics, encouraging employees to be invested in the company’s environmental conservation efforts.

Other newly minted programs like requiring LEED silver certification as a baseline for all new building design and completing nine solar electric installations in 2010 won’t show dividends until later CSR reports. Working toward making an impact outside the company, Intel has been designing energy-efficient products like its second-generation Intel Core processor family to help reduce the carbon impact of consumer use. The processors will reduce laptop power consumption by 25 percent while also improving performance by 20-70 percent.

In 120 pages, Intel reports the good and the bad. It will be interesting to see reports in coming years to see if the company’s commitment to social responsibility, environmental efforts, and its employees cause the numbers to improve.

Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit and a social media blog fellow at The Story of Stuff Project. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. She is a volunteer at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can reach her at and @anewell3p on Twitter.

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