[Memory for a Better Life 2] Our ECO Vision at SK hynix

By June 4, 2020 June 18th, 2020 No Comments

In the semiconductor industry, agility, innovation and technological know-how are all essential to staying ahead. Over the years, these skills have allowed us to process and respond to new information, innovate and adapt as a company.

Today, this understanding has prepared us well to pivot in the face of growing environmental concerns.

Figure 1. “I Pledge” event of SK hynix America

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In celebration of this year’s World Environment Day, SK hynix America Inc. held events for all its employees to take part in. The “I Pledge” event let employees share their resolutions and commitments to mark the special occasion, and the “Eco-friendly reminder event” gave employees the chance to use their creativity and design a memorable poster with its slogan.

Figure 2-1. Posters created by employees for “Eco-friendly reminder event”

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Figure 2-2. Posters created by employees for “Eco-friendly reminder event”

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But this is not the end of it. We’re spotlighting some of the sustainability-minded activities, endeavors and commitments advancing our goals across the world under our 2022 ECO Vision program.

Our Vision for the Future: 2022 ECO Vision

As demand for semiconductors grows alongside the proliferation of the 4th industry, so does scrutiny over our processes and procedures. Semiconductors require a large amount of chemicals and water for production, and if left unregulated, can contribute to pollution and waste. Our challenge as we head into the next decade is therefore two-fold: continue to meet our customers’ demand, while managing and mitigating our environmental impact. This requires active efforts to reduce usage as well as ensure proper disposal of contaminants.

That’s why, as a company, we have created 2022 ECO Vision: a series of strategies and goals to bring us into 2022 that include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and waste, and the investment in renewable energy and water resource management.

Figure 3. 2022 ECO Vision

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Rather than simply addressing the “after-effects” of semiconductor manufacturing – like how to manage waste or contaminants after use – SK hynix reflected more deeply on the semiconductor manufacturing process itself. We asked ourselves more broadly: how can we reduce this waste from the outset? How can we restructure our processes to better reflect our respect for the environment?

Celebrating Biodiversity

With the focus of this year’s World Environment Day on biodiversity, we would also like to spotlight the impact SK hynix is making in this area specifically. As a semiconductor company, one might not think that our work would touch the world of biodiversity, or the wide range of species that inhabit our land and our rivers. However, our usage of water and other chemicals can have a direct impact on these populations.

As World Environment Day explains, “biodiversity may be seen as an intricate web, in which each part is interdependent. When one component is changed–or removed–the entire system is affected, and this can produce positive–or negative–consequences.”

At SK hynix, we recognize the impact that our manufacturing, production and distribution can have on wildlife populations around the world.

Our integrated wastewater treatment plant, which was established in 2018 to improve the quality of discharged water, has already seen success in the waterway outside of our Icheon production site in South Korea. Our teams observed a wide array of wildlife gathering around the waterway, from egret to spotbill ducks, reminding us of the importance to keep this water source clean and undisturbed.

Figure 4-1. Wildlife found around the waterway – great white egret

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Figure 4-2. Wildlife found around the waterway – spotbill ducks

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Figure 4-3. SK hynix employees investigating water ecology

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How 2022 ECO Vision Comes to Life

Our 2022 ECO Vision focuses on several key areas for improvement: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste, investing in renewable energy, and optimizing our water resource management.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
We have committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 40% as compared to 2016 BAU, and plan to support a series of reduction projects in developing countries. At our Chongqing production site in China, SK hynix has managed greenhouse gas emissions to ensure full compliance with government regulations. In 2018, we installed two additional small-size furnaces, saving 73kNm31 of natural gasses and reducing emissions by 158.79 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2eq).

Reducing Waste
By 2022, we have committed to achieving 95% waste recycling across the company. Already in December 2019, SK hynix became the first Korean company to obtain the Zero Waste to Landfill Validation for all four of its production sites, certified by Underwriters Laboratories.

We are committed to minimizing waste production through maximizing the recycling of resources as part of our effort to reduce our environmental impact. It is our vision to turn “waste until resources.”

Investing in Renewable Energy
At our Icheon production site, SK hynix installed two small hydro-generators in 2018 that use the water discharged from the wastewater treatment plant to generate electricity for partial lighting of our wastewater treatment plants. In 2019, we also installed and began operation of solar power modules that is used to power lighting in several areas of the site.

Figure 5-1. Solar Power Panels at Icheon Site

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Figure 5-2. Inverter panel for Solar Power Modules at Icheon Site

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Figure 5-3. Hydro-generators at Icheon Site

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Optimizing Water Resources
With our integrated wastewater treatment plant, we are also striving to improve the quality of discharged water. Since then, we have achieved success by reducing the total amount of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)2, total nitrogen (T-N)3, total phosphorus (T-P)4 by between 15-40% compared to 2017.

Figure 6. Wastewater treatment plant (independent image from this article)

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As a result, SK hynix was recently recognized for its achievements by CDP Korea, winning the Grand Prize and receiving the highest grade in Water Security program in 2019 CDP Korea Award.

Figure 7. SK hynix winning grand prize for its water security program

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Continuing the Work: ECO Alliance

SK hynix sets its sustainable management strategies to drive social value creation, to strengthen the semiconductor ecosystem through effective supply chain management, and to contribute to solve social issues. And while we have certainly come a long way, we know that there is always more work to be done.

Our hope is that the 2022 ECO Vision initiative will serve as a compass for environmental affairs in the years to come and contribute to real change and impact across our business and the local communities we serve. Our ambition, ultimately, is to reduce our environmental impact and create an eco-friendly workplace.

The next article in this series will feature the ECO Alliance, a partnership between SK hynix and many of our partner companies that establishes and implements mid-to-long term environmental goals to reduce the impact of each company on the environment. Happy World Environment Day from SK hynix!

 

1Nm3: a unit of gas emissions or exchange. It stands for normal cubic meter.
2Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD): the amount of oxygen consumed by bacteria and other microorganisms while they decompose organic matter under aerobic (oxygen is present) conditions at a specified temperature.
(https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/biological-oxygen-demand-bod-and-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects)
3Total Nitrogen (T-N): the sum of nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N), nitrite-nitrogen (NO2-N), ammonia-nitrogen (NH3-N) and organically bonded nitrogen.
(https://www.chemscan.com/total-nitrogen-in-wastewater.html)
4Total Phosphorus (T-P): an essential nutrient for plants and animals, but the addition of even a small amount of phosphorus to a water body can have negative consequences for water quality.
(https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/totalphosphorus.pdf)