GF strives to be a sustainability leader offering solutions that ensure water can be delivered safely and with minimal environmental impact, while continually working to reduce its own footprint.
Clean water is the foundation of individual, social and environmental health. However, many areas of the world face ongoing challenges in maintaining access to clean water and leak-free water transport. GF strives to be a sustainability leader offering solutions that ensure water can be delivered safely and with minimal environmental impact, while continually working to reduce its own footprint.
While water use is particularly high in upstream processes such as aluminum and plastic manufacturing, the company's production facilities generally use only small amounts of water in closed-loop cooling systems. In addition, all its sites comply with applicable laws and regulations governing wastewater discharge. As a result, its facilities discharge most of their water as unpolluted water into natural water systems and send the rest to municipal sewage systems.
Progress in 2022
Water intensity index
For the strategy cycle 2025, GF set a goal to reduce water intensity by 20%, compared with the 2018–2020 average used as its baseline, at sites operating in areas with high water stress. This target is binding for 14 facilities across all three divisions. Compared with the baseline (2018–2020 average), facilities in water-scarce locations decreased their absolute water consumption by 14%, in line with the target.
Water intensity index
(water consumption per production volume) in %1
In 2022, the company reduced its total water consumption by 2% compared with the full year 2021. This reduction was due to factors such as GF Casting Solutions' enacting strict water consumption plans at sites in Kunshan and Suzhou (both in China), and in Herzogenburg (Austria) and its divestment from the Mills River, NC (US) facility, combined with several water-saving initiatives at GF Piping Systems’ sites in the US and Indonesia. Like in previous years, the majority (70%) of the company's total water supply came from groundwater and rainwater. The three divisions are also developing various water conservation measures to reduce their consumption further.
Actions for better water management at sites in water-stressed areas
GF Piping Systems adopted various water-saving measures across its nine sites located in China, Indonesia, Turkey and the US. These measures range from installing compact chiller and water limiter systems to filtering and recycling water from hydrostatic pressure tests on pipes.
GF Casting Solutions focused on water conservation measures in its four plants in water-scarce areas, particularly in China, Romania and Germany. Its high-pressure die casting (HPDC) plant in Suzhou (China) renovated the water pipe infrastructure around its casting cells. In addition, though not a water-scarce area, its HDPC site in Herzogenburg reduced its overall water consumption by 33% in 2022 compared with 2021.
Smart meters to prevent water leaks
GF Casting Solutions plants in Kunshan and Suzhou installed smart metering devices to maintain reliable consumption profiles and receive early warnings about leakages. The Suzhou plant installed these devices on three of its main water pipes, which are expected to reduce its total water consumption by up to 7% per year. By carefully monitoring and promptly fixing leakages, as well as rebuilding water pipes above ground to simplify maintenance and avoid rust, these sites lowered their combined water consumption by 12% in 2022 compared with 2021.
Other upgrades and efficiency measures
Various sites across all three divisions have invested in improvements and efficiency upgrades to reduce their water consumption.
This was seen at GF Piping Systems, at the GF Central Plastics site in Dallas, TX (US), where they installed a more compact and efficient chiller system that decreased its water use by 7% in 2022. The division's GF Indonesia site in Jawa Barat continued with various water-saving projects it started in 2021. In particular, this site reduced its water pressure from 2 bar to 1.2 bar, installed water limiters of 30’000 l per day to meet increasingly stringent government regulations, scheduled periodic maintenance, and repaired and redesigned a separator tank.
In addition, the Jawa Barat site has begun reusing the water from hydrostatic pressure tests on its pipes, which is collected in a tank, filtered and recycled for the same purpose. Through these combined initiatives, the site has lowered its water consumption by 26% compared to its baseline (the average from 2018 to 2020).
GF Casting Solutions in Pitești (Romania) installed a new evaporator unit that can clean up to 1’000 l of water per day and make it reusable on-site. This initiative saves around 252’000 l of water per year, 1.5% of the site’s annual consumption.
Participating in UN World Water Day
At its sites in Çerkezköy and Şanlıurfa (both in Turkey), GF Hakan Plastics organized a water awareness day for UN World Water Day in 2022. Employees took part in various training sessions and presentations, learning about water scarcity and protecting natural water resources, particularly in their home country. They also submitted their own water-saving suggestions, to which a committee allocated points, with a prize going to the highest-scoring idea. Thus, beyond raising awareness about water scarcity, this day was valuable in creating a roadmap to reduce long-term water consumption.