COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Intel, which is on track to start building a massive semiconductor chip factory in Licking County later this year, is eager to talk about environmental concerns that might arise when a major manufacturer comes to town.
Intel currently has factories in Chandler, Arizona, Hillsboro, Oregon and Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
The company publishes environmental data online for all of its facilities, and shared with NBC4 their plans to improve those numbers. However, not all of those solutions are clear.
“We’re going to take everything that we’ve learned from Arizona and New Mexico and Oregon and bring it to Ohio,” said Linda Qian, of Intel’s global public affairs team.
There is still plenty of work to do to meet some long-term environmental goals, Qian added.
“In April, we announced a new commitment to reach net zero operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2040,” she said. “We really don’t know how we’re going to achieve that yet. You know, it’s not something we can really just buy our way out of. It’s something that we really as an, as a company– as an industry with our supply chain have to go figure out how to achieve that, through research and development– through industry collaboration.”
Intel is also working on reducing its impact on local water supplies.
“Semiconductor manufacturing is water intensive,” Qian said. “But over the last four-plus decades, we’ve really refined and optimized our process to be able to conserve, reuse, and recycle as much water as we possibly can.”
Data for Intel’s Arizona plant shows less water usage with each passing quarter in 2021.
The company says it plans to be “net positive” for water use by 2030, meaning every drop of fresh water used by Intel would be recycled, cleaned and put back into the water supply.
According to Qian, some of Intel’s plants are already doing that, but others are only returning about 80 percent of the water they use.
Qian said Ohio’s proximity to Lake Erie was one of many factors that made the state attractive for Intel’s newest plant. As part of an incentive package, a large reclamation facility will be built by Intel’s new campus.
In at least one area with an existing Intel plant, the company collaborates with local environmental advocates.
The Community Environmental Working Group in New Mexico was formed decades ago by community members, to take a research-driven approach to shrink the Rio Rancho plant’s environmental footprint. Intel has employees participating as members of the independent group.
“They’re more open and more — providing stuff than almost anybody you can find,” said John Bartlit, the group’s chair. “They also have more resources than almost anybody you can find.”
Bartlit says the CEWG has gotten results, including better pollution abatement equipment and taller smokestacks to make emissions less bothersome on the ground.
“We want to be a good neighbor, we want to be an asset to the community,” Qian said.
Intel said it is setting up a community advisory panel for the New Albany plant, and will invite people to join as members. Anyone else in Ohio can submit feedback via Intel’s website.