World Water Day was on March 22, 2019 and this year’s theme was “Leaving no one behind”. It was an ideal opportunity for Michelin to take a look at how the Group is helping preserve this resource so essential to the survival of all living species and more generally to the protection of the environment. A commitment that is part of Michelin’s sustainable development initiative, represented by concrete actions.
Our awareness of the preciousness of water is not new. The availability of water was one of the key conditions for human settlements on the Earth, and sharing water has often been a source of peace between communities. [...] Moving forward using best practices to better manage water is both a global and local challenge.
Responsible use of water resources
Every day, Michelin strives to use its water, energy and soil resources responsibly.
In 2005, we created the MEF (Michelin Environmental Footprint), our environmental footprint indicator, and included water among its major components, as well as our energy consumption, our atmospheric emissions and even the waste we generate.
We work hard on a daily basis to reduce water use in our different industrial sites, beginning by raising awareness of all Group employees and empowering them with responsibility.
Every Michelin site is involved
Today, all of our different industrial sites - 76 around the world - are involved in our “Water” program with the support of a team of water experts who are environmental, maintenance and engineering specialists.
A team that also provides specific support in the design of new industrial projects, identifying opportunities and sharing best practices.
A community of over 80 experts dedicated to the issue of water
It involves over 80 people who are members of a forum that dialogs via internal and external networks.
This community taps into best practices, in particular through the Water Industry Club launched by the Group for World Water Day in 2016, which had seven other international industrial member companies in 2018.
50% less water to make a tire
Water is a resource we mainly use for cooling in our installations and for steam or hot water production.
Since 2005, we have managed to reduce the quantity of water needed for manufacturing our tires by nearly +50%.
In total, between 2005 and 2018, no less than 136 million m3 of water have been saved by Michelin in its different industrial sites, whilst increasing our production, the equivalent to 7.7 million people’s annual domestic water consumption saved!
Working on waste
As a responsible business with a sustainable development program, we are continuously working on improving the quality of our wastewater. A progress initiative with service providers in wastewater treatment was extended to all of the Group’s sites in 2017.
In 2018, our first digital “demonstrator” was run on the Olsztyn site in Poland, by a specialized service provider (Aquassay).
From data acquisition to modeling specific water uses like demineralization and air-cooling tower management, digital technology gives us an overall view of new directions for moving forward.
Digital innovations and water expertise are helping circulate these challenges throughout our organizations and provide user-focused resources to help them successfully fulfill their responsibilities.
Water is the global challenge for our immediate future. Sustainable water consumption is our duty.
In 2018, different technical actions were carried out. They have generated significant improvements in performance, in cubic meters per ton of finished product, meaning that we need less water to produce a tire.
- At Campo Grande in Brazil, the improvement level is +7%, thanks to the implementation of a reverse osmosis unit, which is a device that purifies water using a very fine filter system, so we can use the effluent from the air-cooling towers.
- In Vitoria, Spain, the improvement level is +17% thanks to circuit closures, reusing water from different processes, automated air-cooling tower management, water flow and the installation of water meters.
- The Chennai site improved its water use between 2017 and 2018 by +27% through technical actions and a strong, consistent awareness program over 3 years providing meaning and a powerful dynamic to help save water. In 2018, all the site’s employees pledged to save water in terms of both quantity and quality.
- At Cuneo in Italy, the improvement level is +16% thanks to a change in the type of compressor used and a global water initiative at the site.
- At Nongkae in Thailand, the improvement is +6% thanks to reusing the water from extrusion processes and the use of the reverse osmosis unit.
In China, Spain, Brazil, Thailand, India and France, these projects are supported by awareness, training and communication actions with management teams and performance management.
Michelin’s water program rewarded
- In 2018, Michelin received the excellent score of “B” for its water management from the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project). This international NGO supports transition towards more sustainable practices in industry and business through an annual questionnaire to several thousand companies all over the world; their answers are given to around 800 member investors.
- Also in 2018, the Union of Chemical Industries (UIC) at the “Responsible Care” National Awards that recognizes remarkable and innovative initiatives and projects for health, safety and the environment recognized the “Michelin Garonne Water” project launched at the Bassens site near Bordeaux in France. Launched in 2014, this project is adapting the water treatment system to obtain water compatible with our production processes and therefore significantly reduce the use of groundwater. The installation was successfully integrated in spring 2017 and our initial target of drawing +70% less of the water we need thanks to this system was exceeded in February 2018 with a great result of +76%.