Sustainable water use strategy
Water is a central resource to all aspects of life and business. Therefore, water management is a crucial element to ensure sustainable use of resources and safeguard business continuity.
We understand sustainable use of water as the efficient water management practices throughout all stages of our operations, always taking into account the water needs of surrounding communities.
We strive to improve water efficiency and to use water in a sustainable way. Therefore, we take several actions to increase our water recycling rate. For example, cooling water can be used afterwards to produce ultrapure water for manufacturing that can again be used afterwards for other purposes like washing processes. Therefore, in 2020 fiscal year 14.17 percent of ultrapure water and 8.46 percent of production wastewater were re-used. This was achieved by the use of reverse osmosis systems.
Waste water treatment is another priority in our water management. Only after all technical possibilities of water reuse are exploited, Infineon discharges its waste water directly or indirectly depending on its quality, local conditions and official permissions.
Regarding our supply chain, our environmental requirements for suppliers are defined in our Principles of Procurement. It requires suppliers and service providers to implement an environmental management system, including the responsible use of water. This requirement is then evaluated as part of the supplier’s assessment which is performed on the initial step of the business relations. This assessment is repeated on a yearly basis.
We emphasized the high priority of the water topic in the 2014 fiscal year by endorsing the UN’s “CEO Water Mandate”. This is a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General that aims to promote a positive impact on the ongoing global water crisis by joining forces with global business leaders to advance water sustainability solutions. As an endorser, Infineon pledges to show continuing support to water preservation and conservation as seen in our environmental sustainability practices and concretely in the efficient management of water at our production sites.
In this reporting year, we carried out an assessment of the potential risks of water stress, using the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas (with reference to Aqueduct 3.0 data) released by the World Resources Institute. Areas with a high or extremely high risk of water stress can be identified. Our review revealed that only two of our sites are in such areas: Temecula (USA) and Tijuana (Mexico). The water withdrawal at these two sites comprises 0.98 percent of our total water withdrawal. Both sites only use water provided by local suppliers. To reduce the demand for fresh water, both sites implement effective water recycling measures using reverse osmosis systems. The water discharge after production (for instance, into municipal sewage plants) for these two sites is 0.46 percent of the total water discharge.
We used the same method of assessment to determine potential future scenarios, with the result that by 2030 other sites might find themselves in areas with water scarcity. In this context, we plan to develop measures within the IMPRES framework in accordance with local circumstances, such as consuming water more efficiently by using it multiple times in the process cycle.
Water Balance at Infineon:
The starting point for our successful water management is the published water balance.
Infineon water supply is based on on-site sources (groundwater fed by surface water) and also on local suppliers (drinking and non-drinking water).
It's a fact that semiconductor industry in general requires water for production. However, at Infineon only a small part of the water withdrawal is consumed, whereas a large part is used for cooling purposes only. We consider as consumed water those parts, which end up in sewage plants where the water is treated.
So, actually approximately 60% of the water withdrawal is returned back to nature with equal or better quality than before.
(1) As figured out in our sustainability report we cannot report water consumption according to the GRI definition. However, we consider a more conservative approach: for us our consumed water is equal to wastewater from production and wastewater which can be compared to domestic wastewater (from sanitary systems, canteen area, etc.) which has to be cleaned in a sewage plant before is returned back to nature.
Water intensity is a KPI considering the annual revenue and the 40% of withdrawal water that is consumed. On the graphic you can see our water intensity, that is more or less stable despite the production fluctuations as our current water intensity per revenue is within the average of the last 5 years.
Another KPI to show our water sustainability is the “water consumption in liters per square centimeter of manufactured wafer”. This KPI is defined by The World Semiconductor Council (WSC) as the unit for measuring the efficiency of water use. The Infineon frontend sites consumed approximately 31 percent less water to manufacture a square centimeter wafer in the 2019 calendar year than the global average of the WSC.