Boeing reviews its overall environmental performance to reduce emissions and waste in new report
Using chrome-free paints and primers for aircraft is one of the ways Boeing is reducing the use of harmful chemicals (photo: Boeing)
Wed 26 May 2010 – Boeing has reported that it has managed to reduce overall CO2 emissions at its major US manufacturing facilities by 31 percent on a revenue-adjusted basis since 2002. Boeing is now stepping up pressure on its suppliers to meet environmental standards. New contracting provisions will be introduced later this year that will establish suppliers’ environmental initiatives as a key factor in doing business with the plane maker. This and a range of numerous other activities Boeing is undertaking to reduce its environmental impact are detailed in its 2010 Environmental Report published last week.
Boeing says it has begun discussions with other aerospace companies to establish a recognized environmental standard for the industry’s global supply base and expects to report progress over the coming year. In 2010, Boeing employees will lead more than 400 workshops educating suppliers about ways to reduce emissions and cut back on the amount of materials sent to landfills.
As well as reducing CO2 emissions at its major facilities by 31%, on a revenue-adjusted basis, reductions of 32% in energy consumption, 38% in hazardous waste generation and 43% in water consumption have been achieved since 2002. On an absolute basis, the reductions are 10.1%, 12%, 20.7% and 26.5% respectively.
Boeing says it achieved a number of environmental milestones at its facilities in 2009, from expanding ISO 14001 certification to additional sites and subsidiaries, to finalizing cleanup at 12 remediation sites and continuing to implement innovations to reduce waste and improve business performance.
“We recognize the importance of protecting our ecosystem,” commented Mary Armstrong, Boeing Vice President for Environment, Health and Safety, “and our employees are developing innovative solutions to help address the global issues of pollution and climate change.”
Aside from its aerospace activities, the report describes how Boeing has moved into developing and advancing alternative energy sources such as solar cells and fuel cells. The company recently formed the Energy Solutions group, part of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, and last November was awarded three US government contracts to demonstrate smart grid technologies. Boeing Energy Solutions has also teamed with Danish technology company Amplex to offer a system that promises to decrease energy consumption by streetlights in major cities by 25-35%.
Boeing researchers and engineers in Madrid, Spain, are working on ways to incorporate clean fuel-cell technology in aerospace applications. A memorandum of understanding has also been signed with Japanese aero engine manufacturer IHI to research regenerative fuel cell technology for aviation (see story).
The report also details how Boeing is looking to reduce harmful carcinogens that are used in the aircraft manufacturing process. The company is developing alternatives to chrome-based paints, which have long been used in aerospace because of the corrosion protection chrome provides. Alternative chrome-free paints have been applied to a 737-800 operated by GOL Airlines and a 777-300ER belonging to KLM.
This month, Boeing work will start on building a new metal-treatment facility in Portland, Oregon. The facility, which is due to come online in 2013, will use new technologies to significantly reduce the amount of cadmium, another carcinogen used to protect metal against corrosion.
Boeing is also researching ways to eliminate Halon, which is used as a fire-suppressing agent in commercial and military aircraft.
The report provides information about the environmental footprint of Boeing’s operations in the United States, Australia and Canada. It also explains actions Boeing is taking to clean up locations affected by past business practices.
Finally, Boeing reveals that its employees booked more than 215,000 business trips in 2009, flying more than 890 million miles (1.4bn kilometres). However, it says it is making increased use of teleconferencing, when appropriate, as a substitute for face-to-face meetings. In 2009, employees conducted more than 1.8 million virtual meetings that included an estimated 8.3 million attendees.