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Intel pledges ambitious water-use goal by 2030: To go ‘net-positive’

May 14, 2020, 11:17 AM UTC
The logo of the US semiconductor manufacturer Intel is displayed during the 'Paris Games Week' on October 29, 2019 in Paris, France.
The logo of the US semiconductor manufacturer Intel is displayed during the 'Paris Games Week' on October 29, 2019 in Paris, France.
Chesnot/Getty Images

Intel has set out a range of environmental goals for the next decade, including a shift to 100% green energy, zero landfill waste from its manufacturing operations, and a target of “net-positive water use.”

In its latest Corporate Responsibility Report, out Thursday, the chipmaker also said it would double by 2030 the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior management.

Crucially, Intel wants to use its clout to influence trade partners to take up the same corporate-responsibility ambitions through cross-industry standards and benchmarks. For example, it wants to help set up what it calls a Global Inclusion Index, which would provide common metrics that companies can use to track progress in boosting diversity across senior and technical positions.

“The world is facing challenges that we understand better each day as we collect and analyze more data, but they go unchecked without a collective response–from climate change to deep digital divides around the world to the current pandemic that has fundamentally changed all our lives,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan in a statement.

Intel came in at No. 4 on Fortune’s Change the World Sustainability All-Stars list last year, largely for its water-restoration efforts—the company is headquartered in drought-prone California. It already had a target of 100% water restoration from its manufacturing activities by 2025, but now it wants to go even further by 2030.

The concept of net-positive water use involves not only the optimization of consumption and heavy recycling of water—no easy task in an industry such as chip manufacturing, where wastewater is usually very toxic—but also capturing water from rainfall or storms, in order to put more back into the system than is taken out.

Intel said Thursday that it would collaborate with PC manufacturers to boost energy efficiency through the use of sensors and more efficient processor architectures (which is what every new generation of processor architecture has always aimed for: Sustainability aside, this enables processors to be used in new ways, such as in wearable technology.)

Ideally, Intel said, it wants to see a PC “that eliminates carbon, water, and waste in its design and use.”

On the health front, Intel is already a major contributor in the fight to quell the COVID-19 outbreak and to prepare for future pandemics. It is now more broadly talking about applying “technology in strategic manufacturing, transportation, and health care initiatives, including accelerating cures for diseases and improving health care.”

Intel also says it will push for global safety technologies and standards in the field of autonomous vehicles.

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