Coats

Effluent and emissions

Focus areas

Effluent

Sustainability Pillars

Effluent

Continued enhancement of effluent treatment plants along with constant real-time monitoring is key to ensuring that stringent effluent quality parameters are achieved. Increased water recycling and hence reduced stress on water supplies is also part of the company strategy.

Emission

Leader's Voice

“As temporary custodians of the water we use, it is our responsibility to ensure that it is returned to the environment in a fit state. In 2019 we moved from measuring our effluent against our own global standards to using the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) standards and we continue to invest in our effluent treatment plants to ensure that we achieve our goal of being 100% compliant to the ZDHC standards by 2022.”

Bill Watson
Chief Operating Officer, Asia

Caring for a Shared Resource

We share water with the communities in which we operate, and especially in areas of high water stress we need to ensure that our activities don’t impact on the ability of our neighbours to access clean water. We focus our investments in effluent treatment and water recycling around various factors including water stress levels. During 2021 there has been no meaningful change in the percentage of our process water discharged as effluent, which remains at 67%.

Country or community-level discharge requirements are constantly evolving and we obviously need to keep abreast of actual and potential changes, especially as changes can sometimes trigger the requirement to upgrade effluent treatment plants, which takes time to plan and implement. For this purpose we use a global register of legislative changes which covers all the countries in which we operate and which also ensures that we have in place the correct operational permits for each of our locations, and that any incidents are reported.

As the chemical input load to an effluent treatment plant (ETP) varies depending on the upstream processes, continuous monitoring of key parameters is essential to ensure that the plant is meeting requirements at all times. All of our key sites have automatic monitoring systems in place that are constantly measuring five key criteria; temperature, pH, biological oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids. These measurements are taken at the final discharge point and are made every 30 seconds. These data are then fed to an online dashboard that issues alerts to nominated staff if warning limits for any of the criteria are triggered, allowing action to be taken before a discharge limit is breached. This highly responsive system has been important in ensuring that the root causes of any imbalances in the effluent treatment processes are quickly identified and addressed. This system has helped us ensure that we are always in compliance with national discharge regulations.

To support our endeavour for safe discharge of effluent waste water, we continually invest in our ETPs and related infrastructure to ensure all necessary upgrades are accomplished. Since 2015, we have invested over $13m into such projects across our sites.

ISO 14001 is the international standard for Environmental Management Systems that supports companies in improving environmental performance. Over the past year, two more of our sites have successfully achieved certification to ISO 14001 meaning 11 Coats sites are now ensuring, meaning that 47% of our effluent processing is done in certified units. Environmental Management Systems are applied to all Coats sites and we maintain an expectation for them to meet the criteria for certification. To champion this, we have global procedures in place around permits management, and corrective actions and globally consistent roles and responsibilities throughout the organisation. Our employees are provided with an extensive online training programme focused on the environmental management systems we have in place, in addition to frequent live training sessions designed to target various topics in more depth.

ZDHC

ZDHC is the foremost textile industry body aimed at reducing the chemical impact of the industry on the environment. Having originally been launched by six leading brands it now has 30 Signatory Brands, 50 Chemical Industry affiliates, 35 Textile and Footwear Industry affiliates (including Coats), 30 Solution Provider affiliates and 22 Associate organisations. It therefore covers the chemical inputs, the processing and the testing and treatment of effluent, all under the leadership and commitment of major brands.

We signed up to the ZDHC programme in 2016 and committed to aligning our effluent standards with those of the programme in 2018. We adopted the ZDHC conventional parameters with foundational limits as our Coats internal standards in 2019. Initially these limits were applied only to effluent discharged from the factory, but in 2019 the scope was expanded to include sludge. Sludge is essentially the solid residue created during the effluent treatment process, during which some chemicals are precipitated out of the effluent in order to clean it. While some contaminants in effluent can be destroyed through the treatment process, in other cases this is not possible as the chemical remains either in the effluent or in the sludge. Historically much effluent treatment technology has been aimed at removing chemicals that were unwanted in the effluent precisely by ensuring that they ended up in the sludge. The focus on analysis of effluent and sludge, means that for these durable chemicals the only option is to prevent them being used in processing in the first place. We are wholly supportive of this approach and are working with our key dye and chemical suppliers (many of whom are ZDHC affiliates themselves), to work out how to continue to reduce the chemical load needed to successfully process the fibres that we work with. Depending on the type of the sludge generated, we seek to destine biological sludge for soil enrichment while chemical sludge can be used as a building products additive.

Our goal is to have all of our units meeting ZDHC standards by 2022. During 2020 74% of our effluent where testing is possible was compliant with the ZDHC standards and this increased to 82% in 2021. We are confident that we will be able to progress to 100% in 2022.

Supplier Environmental Auditing

As part of our aim to progressively reduce the use of chemicals in processing, and to ensure that our products are safe in use, for the past 17 years Coats has been continuously developing and enhancing its Coats Restricted Substances List (CRSL). This is a very comprehensive list that meets the strictest requirements from any of our customers globally. We work with our 4500+ suppliers of raw materials, dyes, chemicals and packaging each year to ensure that our inputs comply with our CRSL to ensure that hazardous chemicals are reduced or eliminated from our supply chain.

In addition we are focused on the environmental performance of our upstream supply chain, one of four topic areas covered in our Supplier Code which our suppliers are committed to and which we audit where we perceive a risk. As detailed on page 32 of the Sustainability Report we have already undertaken over 300 third party audits since this programme started.

A Success Story on Effluent Management

During the first half of the year, one of Coats major sites was found to have lead contamination in the raw waste water and sludge that exceeded the permissible ZDHC limits. Rapid action was taken as a result to ensure compliance prior to testing within the next six month period. A dedicated project team was initiated, and through extensive testing of 384 dyes, chemicals and waste water, using a mass balancing approach, coagulents used in the effluent treatment were identified as the root cause of lead contamination. Testing revealed presence of lead in 124 dyes and chemicals. Our successful corrective action to resolve this issue was to introduce food grade chemicals in our process, and the site has since been regularly tested and is consistently within limits.

Read more case studies

Effluent: Reduce and clean

Indicator
Unit 2021 2020 restated1 2020 2019 restated1 2019 2018 restated1 2018
% of water discharged as effluent
% 68% 69% 67% 61% 62% 65% 69%
Treated effluent discharge to surface water course
Million cubic metres 3.0 2.7 2.8 3.2 3.4 4.0 4.1
Effluent discharge to offsite treatment plant
Million cubic metres 1.2 1.1 1.1 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3
Total effluent discharge
Million cubic metres 4.2 3.8 3.9 4.5 4.7 5.3 5.3
Environmental prosecutions
No. 0 0 0 0
% effluent that is compliant with ZDHC
% 82% 74% 63% -
Investment in effluent treatment plants and technology
Million $ 2.2 1.5 4.6 -

1During development of our Science Based Targets inventory some corrections to data from 2018 to 2020 were identified. In addition some reporting inconsistencies to water, energy and waste data were identified and corrected.

For more information on our historical performance download Coats Performance Summary

Effluent: Reduce and clean

Indicator
Unit 2017 2016 2015 2014
% of water discharged as waste effluent
% 77% 79% 80% 87%
Treated effluent discharge to surface water course
Million cubic metres 4.8 5.0 4.9 5.4
Effluent discharge to offsite treatment plant
Million cubic metres 1.4 1.4 1.6 1.6
Total effluent discharge
Million cubic metres 6.2 6.4 6.6 7.0
Environmental prosecutions
No. 0 0 0 0
% effluent that is compliant with ZDHC
% - - - -
Investment in effluent treatment plants and technology
Million $ 2.2 1.6 0.9 3.4
Total carbon footprint
Thousand tonnes CO2e 311 319 305 322
Scope 1 emissions footprint
Thousand tonnes CO2e 71.8 70.9 67.8 81.5
Scope 1 CO2 emissions
Tonnes CO2 - - - -
Scope 1 CH4 emissions
Tonnes CH4 - - - -
Scope 1 N2O emissions
Tonnes N2O - - - -
Scope 2 emissions footprint (location based)
Thousand tonnes CO2e 238.8 247.6 237.6 240.4
Scope 2 CO2 emissions
Tonnes CO2 - - - -
Scope 2 CH4 emissions
Tonnes CH4 - - - -
Scope 2 N2O emissions
Tonnes N2O - - - -
% scope 2 emissions covered by renewable certificates
% - - - -
Emissions volume intensity (location based)
CO2e kg/kg production 4.3 4.6 4.5 4.9
Emissions value intensity (location based)
CO2e tonnes/$m sales 206 219 208 210

For more information on our historical performance download Coats Performance Summary