This week Intel formally published a company water policy and I’m proud of the result. A water policy? You read it correctly – a water policy. Let me explain.Like most manufacturing processes, water is a key requirement for making semiconductors. Tap water is piped into the facility, contaminants (minerals, ions, etc) are removed from the water and the resulting ultra-pure water is used to rinse the surface of silicon wafers as they go through the semiconductor manufacturing process. Over the years, we’ve continued to improve the process so that today it takes less than 10 gal of water to make a state of the art microprocessor that powers your PC, less water than most people use in the shower each morning. Not bad, but there is room for improvement. At Intel we have focused our efforts over the past decade to continuously improve our water efficiency, investing over $100 million which today results in savings of ~3 billion gallons of water each year. So, you’ve got the internal commitment and results, why a water policy? We debated the same question internally. We recognized the changing landscape and rising expectations for companies on this topic – from organizations looking at water as being a human right, to demands from investors for improved reporting and transparency on water use. In the end, after much discussion both internally and externally, including discussions with the socially responsible investment firm NorthStar Asset Management, we concluded that formally establishing a policy that documents our current practices and acknowledges the importance of water as a natural resource would help guide our future decision making, formalize our commitment and perhaps in a small way help raise the recognition of water as a valuable resource. In short, it was simply the smart and the right thing to do. To learn more about our water conservation practices, see our most recent Corporate Responsibility Report and online water demo.
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