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Protecting our planet: Water

Protecting our planet: Water

A beaker and seven test tubes on a table

Belgian manufacturing site leads the way in water recycling

Making a commitment to conserve water is one thing. Turning that commitment into a reality is quite another. And it can be challenging –our team in Belgium pioneered the recycling of rainwater and wastewater at our Lessines manufacturing site.

We’ve teamed up with the Belgian enterprise Ekopak, which developed an innovative technology. By re-using rainwater and treating our wastewater, the manufacturing site is currently reducing its freshwater consumption by 60%, aiming for a 90% reduction by 2025. To put this figure into perspective, it’s equivalent to the annual water use of nearly 18,000 Belgian citizens, which just happens to be the size of the population in the city of Lessines.

This is the first large-scale wastewater recycling facility of its kind to be used in the pharmaceutical industry in Belgium. Investment in the facility, which also reduces the use of chemicals such as acid and caustic soda in water treatment, is part of a much wider strategy to sustain and protect natural resources at Lessines. The site already purchases 100% renewable electricity. It also has a cogeneration plant that generates electricity using a natural gas-powered turbine. And we installed more than 8,000 photovoltaic panels until today and plan to install more in the coming years. By 2026, the site aims to produce 80% of the needed electricity through e.g., the installation of geothermal wells and two wind turbines. The plant systematically monitors its energy efficiency and has deployed a biodiversity management program.

underground rainwater collecting system render

A sponge city harvesting rainwater

At our Tianjin plant in China, we followed a “sponge city design” to recover rainwater. We created a subsidized greenbelt and permeable roads that are used to absorb and collect rainwater. The streets have an underground water collecting system, which helps to reduce freshwater withdrawal.