NYSE-listed Ecolab, of which water treatment and process improvement company Nalco is a subsidiary, has been listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index and Forbes Magazine’s list of The World’s Most Innovative Companies for the second consecutive year.
Ecolab ranks thirty-first out of 100 companies on the magazine’s global list, which appeared in its September 5 issue.
“Much of the innovation in Ecolab comes from a clear commitment to create value for our customers,” states Nalco Africa sales and marketing manager Casimiro da Silva Santos.
“Being named as one of the most innovative companies in the world also shows that Ecolab is a company that works to protect vital resources while making the world cleaner, safer and healthier,” he states.
Being selected by Forbes does not provide business opportunities for a company, but it does provide recognition for what a company can achieve. “Sustainability cannot, in itself, be used as a marketing tool – it needs to be proved and implemented. The Nalco approach to sustainability begins with innovation.”
Nalco aims to positively contribute to reducing global water and energy consumption, as well as greenhouse-gas emissions, says Da Silva Santos.
“We look at these global issues and develop effective solutions to tackle them.”
In 2011, Nalco and Ecolab helped customers save enough water worldwide to meet the yearly needs of 21-million people through the use of innovative technologies, such as 3D TRASAR, PARETO and DryExx, he notes.
“Ecolab’s continuous innovation approach impacts every aspect of daily life. Our focus is on providing sustainable technologies and solutions that help ensure clean water, safe food, healthy environments and abundant energy.”
In addition to developing sustainable solutions, the company has partnered with the nonprofit organisation Water For People, and Nalco and Ecolab employee volunteers are deployed to water-stressed areas around the world for up to three weeks to help communities improve drinking water quality.
“We do this [every year], with between 20 and 24 selected employees working in teams to help make a difference. Volunteers work to implement solutions to treat the water, ensuring people do not contract water-related diseases,” Da Silva Santos explains.
He notes that Nalco products are not used to treat water in these areas, but the volunteers use their work experience and knowledge to treat the water.
The company also endorses the United Nations Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate initiative, which is a public–private initiative established to assist companies in developing and implementing water- sustainability policies.
In addition, the company and conserva- tion group World Wide Fund for Nature formed a partnership in 2009 to develop best practices for the protection and conservation of water. Nalco assists by applying its global experience in safe and efficient industrial water use to help define the needs of priority areas facing water scarcity, poor water quality and the degradation of freshwater habitats.
Nalco and Ecolab have a strong sustainability focus, Da Silva Santos stresses. “We aim to take care of the environment and ensure the planet is here for the generations to come.”
He notes that ensuring environmental sustainability is part of the survival of a business. “Businesses need to look at financial, environmental and people aspects to ensure their survival.”
Da Silva Santos notes that South Africa has a big population and much innovation is needed to improve water capacity in the country.
“There is a need for actual change in South African society. Businesses need to consider the environment and help conserve it. In addition, every member of society has a responsibility to contribute towards water conservation.
“While many people and businesses think big changes are needed to help conserve water, small changes can make a big difference. Even if it is costly to implement energy and water consumption reduction measures it cannot be delayed, as we are impacting on future generations.
“There is no extra water in the world – we have a fixed amount of water available to us and need to ensure we recycle and re-use water effectively,” he states.
In addition, he notes that communication between South African industries and the Department of Water Affairs is improving and the parties are cooperating to establish how the country can create water infra- structure development for its people.
Nalco Africa assists in global water conservation by helping its customers, including those in the mining, power, pulp and paper and oil exploration industries, reduce water and energy consumption through the implementation of its technologies.
Pulp and Paper Innovation
Da Silva Santos says South Africa’s pulp and paper industry is facing many challenges that provide opportunities for Nalco.
“The industry is going through a big shake-up, owing to the large production capacity of the country and competition from external markets such as China that produce cheaper paper products. In addition, the energy costs related to producing paper are impacting on pulp and paper mills.”
He stresses that these challenges can be tackled through innovation.
“Innovation can be a ten-year-old technology if you bring it to a market that has never been exposed to it. Nalco has technologies to assist the pulp and paper industry in reducing energy consumption and production costs.”
Within the last five years, Nalco launched its Scale-Guard Plus, PARETO, FillerTEK and Metrix technologies to assist in lowering production and energy costs in the pulp and paper industry.
The Scale-Guard Plus programmes combine tailor-made chemical programmes, new monitoring and control technology, as well as mechanical, operational and chemi- cal best practices to prevent scale from occurring during pulp and paper production processes, Da Silva Santos explains.
Further, PARETO mixing technology is used to improve and optimise the delivery of retention aid and other process chemicals to paper machines, helping to reduce freshwater consumption.
The technology balances and provides the optimal feeding solution for the interrelated and dependent variables of hydrodynamics, chemistry and water management to provide benefits, such as lower cost, higher operational efficiencies and enhanced finished- product quality, to paper mills.
FillerTEK technology delivers an increase in filler content of up to five units, while preserving the critical strength and optical attributes of the final paper sheet. This technology effectively delivers cost efficiency to paper producers by allowing them to use less expensive raw materials, Da Silva Santos notes.
Metrix Technology is applied for productivity and strength improvement. It is a synergistic, multicomponent programme developed to enhance productivity, press dewatering and the strength development of paperboard manufacturers.
A Metrix Technology programme allows papermakers to use less expensive fibres while maintaining the same paperboard physical properties, Da Silva Santos explains.
“These technologies will soon be available to the pulp and paper industry in South Africa as we prepare for their introduction during the second half of 2013,” he notes.