Intel, the world's biggest manufacturer of semiconductors and computer chips, needs a lot of water. The company's Chandler, Arizona, facility specifically uses millions of gallons every day to wash the silicon wafers that are eventually made into the processors that can be found in laptops, servers and other computing devices. Once they do this, the water contains a great deal of salt that would make it undrinkable for humans, but the company purifies the water and sends it back to the aquifer where it originally came from.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Intel recycles 5 million of the 9 million gallons it uses daily. This is important given that Arizona is currently experiencing a 14 year drought that is the worst it has dealt with in 100 years.
Efforts like this are important because often, business advocates cite environmental sustainability efforts as an impediment to economic growth. Making companies operate with environmental responsibility, they say, puts an undue burden on those firms that are "creating jobs" for the rest of us. But Intel has as much to lose from a dwindling water supply as do residents of Chandler and other areas of the Sonoran desert. If it cannot maintain a stable water supply, the company would have to close up shop and move somewhere else, an expensive undertaking that would harm its productivity and public image – not to mention the community that depends on its facility for jobs.
Other major corporations, such as PepsiCo and SABMiller Plc, have also implemented water recycling programs, further proving that this isn't just a trend limited to small firms, but a major effort by the world's biggest companies to make sustainability a priority.
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