Responsible Environmental Practices
We are committed to the health and safety of people, protection of the environment, and compliance with environmental laws, regulations, and our policies.
Through proactive and preventative programs and reporting, innovative approaches and technology, and community investment and engagement, we aim to bring positive and lasting environmental progress to our customers, the industry, and the world.
Our environmental management approach
We take a holistic, risk-based approach to minimize the environmental footprint of our activities, products, and services across our operations and throughout the value chain. It is built on stringent environmental standards that we set for ourselves, which meet or exceed regulatory requirements and are applied across our sites and operations globally.
Our management system comprises global policies, producedures, training, reporting, and assurance and control measures that detail the minimum standards for controlling environmental risk. It is built on a tiered approach that can be tailored to local requirements or risk profiles. It is embedded throughout the organization with the highest levels of accountability and engagement at the top. To drive leadership at all levels, we promote environmental awareness, train and engage employees, and share best practices to continue learning from each other. We ensure alignment with customers and value chain partners, collaborating with leaders across industry sectors.
We track and report our progress globally and we regularly assess and evolve our approach to drive continuous improvement.
Core focus areas
Enhancing transparency and environmental reporting
Protecting air quality
Ensuring water quality
Reducing waste and promoting a circular economy
Restoring our environment
Enhancing transparency and environmental reporting
Baker Hughes is committed to enhancing and expanding our external reporting and driving continuous performance improvements.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, we completed a fast-track project to enhance the capabilities of the Sustainability Reporting application within our system of record, which included additional aspects for hazardous and non-hazardous waste, mentals recycling, electronic waste, and water discharges across our facilities. These efforts resulted in the disclosure of 15 new environmental reporting metrics during 2020, in alignment with the GRI and based on a materiality assessment. This included the full suite of water metrics, aligning our waste reporting to the newly issued GRI guidelines for this topic, and providing detailed health metrics for the first time. This is a positive step in our multi-year journey to elevate and expand our external environmental reporting.
We are committed to reducing spill volumes to minimize potential effects to the environment. Our approach is built on the core concept of spill prevention, with robust internal standards involving risk identification and control measures, including secondary containment and other engineering controls as well as improved systems and processes. When spills do occur, effective response procedures ensure immediate mitigation of environmental affects and prompt reporting, as required, promotes continual learning. Investigation spill incidents is integral to our environmental management system, so that we can implement corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence.
Volume of significant spills, as defined by GRI standard 306-3, was reduced by 54% year-over-year.
Protecting air quality
We are committed to managing our air emissions aligned to industry best practices and regulatory standards. This includes reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases related to our activities to mitigate climate change risks. Our progress is reported in the Energy and Climate section of this report.
Our overall approach to protecting air quality is centered on robust environmental practices to minimize routine emissions and prevent emergency releases. We identify, assess, mitigate, and contro, potential sources of air emissions from processes and operations, including both stationary and mobile sources. Where needed, we install emission-control devices, such as scrubbers, dust collection systems, and paint booths to protect air quality and meet regulatory requirements.
In general, we strive to improve our chemistries by substituting less hazardous materials while maintaining efficacy for their intended use. In addition, our environmental procedures prohibit the use of chlorinated hydrocarbon-based solvents or ozone depleting chemicals containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). One particular type, HFC R-134a was previously used for a specific type of turbine testing but has been phased out, with only minimal remaining use at three locations during 2020. This is the result of a multi-year improvement plan.
Ensuring water quality and managing water resources
We are committed to conserving and protecting freshwater resources throughout the water cycle–from withdrawal, to use, and eventual reuse or discharge. Due to the nature of our operations, our current use of water does not significantly impact the availability of water in the regions where we operate. More than 90% of our water is withdrawn from and discharged to municipal water systems.
Our approach focuses on monitoring our water use, understanding associated risks across our operations, and taking proactive steps to minimize residual risks by working with other stakeholders, including our customers and industry on adopting efficient water practices.
In 2020, we improved our water quality and conservation program and expanded our reporting requirements. This includes a new water toolkit to enhance awareness of water risks and conservation practices, and a new water assessment. These resources are designed to educate our employees and equip our site teams with effective tools to manage water risks, promote effective water management, and elevate our conservation practices. In addition, we completed the evaluation of water risk across our global operations using the WRI Aquaduct tool. Our real estate portfolio as of year-end 2020 included approximately 150 company sites with high- or extremely high-water risk based on their physical, regulatory, and reputational risk profile. We plan to reassess water risks across our portfolio on an annual basis.
In 2021, employee teams at these locations will conduct a water assessment to identify water management and conservation actions to be implemented and tracked over a three-year period. Teams are encouraged to submit highlights and successes along the way to be recognized across company communication channels.
These enhancements to our water management program also address increasing interest in the company's water practices, particularly in water-scarce areas around the world.
*The organizational boundary for this metric includes facilities under our operational control while active at any time during the calendar year and does not exclude divestitures.
Examples of water conservation and management programs that are ongoing at our facilities include:
- Louisiana, U.S – Sustainable efforts save water and costs. Waste-water recycling system installed to treat and reuse wastewater for tool washing, reducing offsite disposal by more than 210K gallons of water annually
- Dubai, UAE – Designing savings in from the start. Multi-use campus designed to retain and reuse all water used onsite. Nearly 2 million gallons of grey water are treated and reused annually for landscape irrigation. An additional 200k gallons are reused through the wash bay recycling system.
- Lagomar, Brazil – Deployed rainwater capturing system to conserve water, reducing water previously sourced from municipal supplies.
We strive to operate responsibly and protect biodiversity wherever we operate around the world. As part of our commitment to the UN SDGs, we commit to exploring our impacts on biodiversity, protected areas, and areas of significant biological value at our operational sites. We are focused on minimizing our environmental footprint, preserving natural habitats, and protecting and restoring ecosystems through nature-based projects. We accomplish this through our internal standards for establishing new operations, volunteer efforts by our employees, and foundation grants to support environmental efforts.
We aim to minimize any potential impacts on biodiversity as we enter new areas of activity around the world and as we adjust our real-estate portfolio. Generally, our operations are established in existing industrial areas since the majority of our activities commence after industrial exploration has begun. It is our practice to conduct environmental due diligence for each new location. For industrial sites, this is comprised of a review of environmental risks including sensitive habitat, such as wetlands, and the potential presence of threatened or endangered species. We conduct formal Environmental Impact Assessments when required by local regulations.
We recognize the UNESCO "No-Go" commitment for Natural World Heritage sites as an important program for the protection of unique and valuable locations. We are concerned about the potential effects that extractive industries, including oil and gas, can have on protected and ecologically sensitive sites. We publicly disclose the presence of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List species on or adjacent to our company locations, and we are evaluating more robust methods to assess operations which could have the potential to affect IUCN Protected and Conserved Areas. Looking to the future if we enter and operate in areas of high biodiversity value with critical habitat, we will adopt good management practices to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Reducing waste and promoting a circular economy
We are committed to using our resources wisely, reducing our volume of waste, and increasing the recycling and reuse of materials. We seek to apply the principles of a circular economy across our business, operating strategy, and supply chains. This means responsible resource use and striving to increase opportunities to reuse, refurbish, and recycle materials broadly across our global operations. We are also working to design materials and products to last longer or are constructed in a closed loop, circular system rather than the more traditional “make use-dispose” linear models. We believe a circular economy will minimize resource extraction, waste, and emissions and address environmental challenges including climate change, plastics pollution, and natural resource scarcity. We’re committed to increasing our efforts in this area to help reduce pressure on the world’s resources.
We've expanded our additive manufacturing processes which can reduce material use by 30-60%, producing much less waste compared to traditional manufacturing processes.
Our Artificial Lift product line has implemented processes to move towards a circular economy aligned business model. At end of life, customers can return equipment which is then assessed to determine if it can be refurbished. If suitable, it is repaired, tested, and confirmed that it meets original equipment criteria, then it’s redeployed at the customer’s location. Where unsuitable, the equipment is assessed to reclaim materials as feasible, and the remainder is recycled. This program includes pumps, intakes for gas separators, seals, and motors. During 2020, more than 9,300 units were reclaimed.
The Drill Bit product line has taken important steps to move towards a circular economy, building on their prior efforts. One initiative involved expanding the reuse of plastic packaging used to supply our drill bits to the customer, minimizing energy-intensive recycling processes or waste disposal in landfills. In 2020, our employees refurbished and reused more than 3,000 units, achieving a 45% improvement year on year, despite the market decline related to COVID-19. Years ago, we transitioned our polycrystalline diamond drill bits from a manufacture-sell-use business model to a more circular rental model. This ensures that the drill bits are returned to us for a combination of remanufacturing and recycling, versus the more traditional disposal option at end of life. In the current model, reusable polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) cutters are removed and reclaimed, and the metal bit body is recycled. The useful life of these materials is extended, and in 2020, more than 76,000 PDC cutters were reclaimed to achieve an overall 44% reuse rate.
Waste Management and disposal
In 2020, our total waste volume generated was 677,830 metric tons. Of this, 230,618 metric tons were recycled. The volume of waste reported in 2020 is significantly higher than the prior year. 2019 and 2020 waste values are not directly comparable because of new calculation methodologies shifting from modeled data to measured data, and because of expanded reporting.
Waste minimization efforts include reducing the amount of packaging through enhanced use of bulk shipments in our chemical product lines, as well as the conversion of former waste materials to useable products. In 2020, we produced more than 3,000 metric tons of solvent material that is classified in our "waste to product conversion" category.
Even with our best efforts, there are still instances where materials are generated for which there is no economic demand, and which require eventual disposal. In such cases, we manage our waste through rigorous internal processes that include facility specific plans, inspections, and compliance with regulatory requirements. We audit our waste vendors and recyclers and give preference to those who provide cost-effective and responsible alternatives to landfill disposal. Our vendors are expected to comply with local environmental standards. During 2020, we emphasized waste vendor audits in Sub-Sahara Africa with audited and approved vendors in Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Mozambique, and Angola. Around the world, we manage the disposal of surplus or obsolete electronic equipment in a process known as e-cycling. As part of this process, we partner with vendors for the remarketing and recycling of electronic equipment such as computers, copiers, and phones. Through these partnerships, we recycled or repurposed 106 metric tons of e-waste. More than 230,000 metric tons of material were diverted from disposal through The organizational boundary for this metric includes facilities under our effective recycling and reuse strategies of metals and operational control while active at any time during the calendar year, and other materials. Enterprise-wide, we have enhanced our does not exclude divestitures. reporting of waste and recycling, with the intent to be better able to identify reduction opportunities and track progress in the future.
The organizational boundary for this metric includes facilities under our operational control while active at any time during the calendar year, and does not exclude divestitures.
Restoring our environment
We evaluate our operations, to identify and assess the potential environmental risks and apply control measures to prevent or minimize them. We also elevate our operating standards and use periodic auditing as assurance programs to ensure those standards are consistently met. Through these efforts, we seek to minimize our environmental liabilities and, where needed, enhance and restore our properties so they can have a beneficial next use. When remediation is required, we evaluate and select the most appropriate approach and take into account environmental and social considerations, such as potential energy use and the views of local communities.