Recycling Slashes Intel’s Water Footprint By 60%

Normally when we talk about multi-national companies and water consumption, it’s to relay the drastic amount of H2o that they’re pulling from the ground. So this will come as a refreshing change of pace: In Arizona, which, like most of America, has be plagued with drought, Intel recycles some 60 percent of its water.

The company’s plants in Chandler, Ariz., demand 9 million gallons of water a day in order to keep the world in semi-conductors. According to a recent Bloomberg report, however, a whopping five million of these gallons are recycled, helping to replenish an already struggling aquifer.

Arizona Intel Water Recycling

Image via Wing-Chi Poon

Most people don’t realize how much water goes into making items, like Intel computer chips, that are inedible and must be protected from water during their life cycle. In Chandler, which only receives 9 inches of rainfall on average per year, every drop of water must be used with care. Intel, the largest employer in the area, seems to have realized its role as a part of the ecosystem early on, and taken steps to be a good steward of the water that both it and its employees need to survive.

“For most manufacturers, the leftover effluent or concentrated dissolved salts that result from making chips often ends up in a sewer,” reports Bloomberg. “Intel cleans its supply to drinking-quality standards and helps replenish groundwater beneath the city 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Phoenix.”

Each day, 2 million gallons of industrial wastewater — enough to fill at least 30,000 bathtubs, is pumped to a treatment plant for sterilization before being returned to the desert aquifer from which it came. Not only is this good for the environment, but it generates revenue for the City as well.

“The company is spending more than $200 million to upgrade and expand the reverse-osmosis and water-reclamation facilities to handle more manufacturing at the plant,” continues Bloomberg. “Intel and the city plan to increase the water recovery rate at the facilities to 90 percent.”

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog