Reducing Our Footprint at Eaton

Sep 14, 2022 10:30 AM ET

At our sites around the globe, we are focused on reducing energy consumption and greening our energy supply. At the same time, we have defined targets to reduce waste and water use.

One of our critical sustainability goals is to mitigate climate change while improving the efficiency of our operations. We have identified several innovative ways to promote resource use reduction that not only limit emissions and our consumption of resources, but also lower our cost of production. Our businesses are held accountable for the implementation of these efforts by our Sustainability Executive Council led by Chairman and CEO, Craig Arnold.

Carbon: The race to zero

Eaton is driving actions to reduce global emissions and advance a net-zero future. According to the IPCC, avoiding the most catastrophic impacts of climate change involves limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and reaching net-zero global carbon emissions by 2050. Our greenhouse gas reduction targets put us on a pathway that is aligned with scientific consensus and we’ve joined the United Nations’ Race to Zero to affirm our commitment to science-based climate action.

We are aiding the global decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by reducing our emissions with science-based and carbon neutral operations targets and by helping our customers decarbonize with our digitalization, electrification and energy transition solutions.

We also understand that to limit global warming to 1.5°C, we must remove more carbon through nature-based and technological solutions that create carbon sinks. Credible, high-quality carbon offsets are part of our carbon reduction roadmap that will help to contribute to the development of carbon removal solutions.

We are on track to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from our operations by 50%. Carbon neutrality builds upon our approved, science-based target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which we will achieve by reducing the carbon intensity of our Scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity and reductions to our Scope 1 direct emissions from natural gas, fleet emissions and process fuels. Where emissions cannot be reduced by 2030, we plan to use carbon offsets.

Harnessing renewable energy

Eaton is executing a renewable energy strategy that includes both on-site and off-site, utility-scale renewable development. We are investigating the deployment of on-site solar panels, energy storage and microgrids at 27 key Eaton locations, with multiple projects already underway.

On-site renewables are an important element of our carbon reduction strategy. They generate zero-carbon electricity and help make our sites more resilient, which is also consistent with our business continuity strategy. We are leveraging Eaton products and services as we implement our strategy. We are planning multiple utility-scale, off-site virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) that add renewable energy to the grid and advance our renewable energy priorities, helping us make significant progress toward our carbon neutral target.

Reduce global emissions

Reducing our value chain emissions with science-based and carbon neutral operations targets.

Helping our customers avoid emissions by advancing green and modernized grids, sustainable transport, and a smarter built environment.

Ensure a 1.5ºC future

Advancing our carbon offset strategy, which includes offsetting emissions with certified renewable energy credits and verified high quality carbon offsets that focus on additionality and carbon removal.

How we're getting there:

Eaton aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. Our carbon roadmap consists of six levers that will help us achieve our target.

  • Manufacturing efficiency
    • We will continue to implement capital projects that reduce electricity through more efficient and automated manufacturing equipment and technologies as well as building envelope and sytem improvements.
  • Fugitive emissions
    • We will implement alternative solutions to reduce fugitive emissions from refrigerants and sulfur hexaflouride (SF6 ) from our systems and processes.
  • Renewable energy
    • We will deploy on-site solar panels, energy storage and microgrids in key Eaton locations. We will add new renewables to the grid through off-site utility-scale solar and wind projects.
  • Green fleet
    • We have committed to deploy electric vehicles, charging infrastructure and more efficient fleets for our sales, service and other operational vehicles.
  • Electrification and fuel switching
    • We will switch to sustainable fuel sources where possible for processes that combust fuel on-site. Where we can’t, we’ll electrify processes with renewables.
  • Site strategy
    • We will continue to ensure efficient operations by implementing a strategy to right-size the square footage of our buildings and manufacturing operations globally.
  • Carbon offsets
    • We will offset emissions that aren’t addressable through other levers with certified renewable energy credits and verified high-quality carbon offsets that focus on additionality and carbon removal.

Reducing energy consumption

Focusing on efficiency in key manufacturing processes, we will continue to implement capital projects that reduce electricity through more efficient and automated manufacturing equipment and technologies and building system improvements, such as improved insulation and updated heating and air conditioning.

Our electricity consumption is the largest driver of our greenhouse gas emissions. The large drop in 2020 was due to pandemic production decline. Even with increasing production in 2021, we have been able to maintain substantial electricity reductions since 2019. We have been transitioning to more renewable energy sources and continuing to look for opportunities to leverage even more renewables. Our 2022 annual reduction target is an additional absolute reduction of 4.2% in greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste: Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair

By 2030, we aim to certify 100% of our manufacturing sites as zero waste-to-landfill. We define zero waste-to-landfill as consistently achieving a landfill waste diversion rate of 98% or more through either reuse, composting, recycling or incineration with energy recovery—where the heat generated by incineration is collected and used in order to create more energy than was required for the incineration process. Each of Eaton’s zero-waste sites are subjected to an audit process that includes verifying conformance to our definition and ensuring proper tracking and oversight practices are maintained.

We continue to make progress on this long-term goal by meeting our annual target to reduce total waste bound for landfill by 2% each year—a target we initially set in 2018. We have far exceeded this goal, reducing waste going to landfill by 43% since 2018. The process starts with eliminating waste streams before they reach our facilities and then engaging partners to help us divert our remaining waste from landfills. In 2021, 94% of our manufacturing waste was diverted from landfills or traditional incineration without energy recovery.

Water: Active water stewardship

All living things on our planet need water to survive, so it is critical to implement sustainable means of using and managing water.

Globally, industrial processes consume about 19% of freshwater withdrawals. To reduce freshwater consumption as much as possible and to ensure that water is used responsibly, we look for ways to treat water once it has been used and reuse it in downstream processes.

We recognize that the water we use at our own facilities is a shared resource. And while our processes are not particularly water intensive, water is critical to many of our operations. Each of our sites must maintain up-to-date water maps and documentation of the following sources: water intake; water use; and wastewater generation (including noncontact cooling water).

We have reduced water use in manufacturing by 15% since 2018. That's a reduction of 520 megaliters, which exceeds our goal of annually reducing water use by 2%. In 2020, our water use in manufacturing was exceptionally low due to reduced manufacturing during the pandemic.

Our water goals for 2030

One of our 2030 sustainability goals is to certify 10% of our manufacturing sites as zero-water discharge. Eaton defines zero-water discharge as consistently achieving an industrial wastewater discharge rate of 2% or less. Sites must manage industrial wastewater (i.e., discharges from cooling towers, wash tanks, mop and floor scrubber wastewaters, air-conditioning condensate, blowdowns from compressors and boilers, laboratory and maintenance wash sinks, reject water from reverse osmosis systems used to treat water prior to using in industrial processes, etc.) in a beneficial manner so that all water is recycled and reused.

In 2021, we formally launched our zero-water discharge certification program, focusing on our sites located in the most water-stressed regions. By the end of the year, we had certified nine Eaton sites in India, Mexico and China.

We have committed to using responsible water practices to minimize the potential negative impacts of wastewater on the environment and producing solutions that improve water efficiency, quality, sanitation and desalination in communities around the world.

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