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Sustainable+Production+at+Wacker,+August+2008 - Department...

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1 Department of MS&E-001-2008 Management Science and Engineering Aug. 12, 2008 Sustainable Production in the Chemical Industry: WACKER Sets a Good Example at its Burghausen Site 1 It was 7:00 a.m. and Dr. Klaus Blum was excited to start a new day in his office. In a short while, thousands of employees who lived in small towns scattered around the skirts of the Alps in Bavaria and in close proximity to the plant would start arriving in company shuttles. They would manufacture thousands of different products in some 150 facilities in Burghausen. The relaxing scenery of the trees and calm Alz river through Dr. Blum’s window were breathtaking. He thought about the times when air and water were not so clean and there were not that many fish in the river. But his company’s commitment to sustainability and continuous vigilance to improve the quality of life in his community had paid off; he was proud of working at Wacker Chemie AG (WACKER). This thought gave him the boost to start working on his presentation for a team of professors and students from Stanford University who were visiting Burghausen to learn about WACKER’s practices in sustainable production. He had the feeling that it was going to be a productive day. Tradition of Chemical Production with Low Environmental Impact WACKER (Exhibit 1) was founded in 1914 and in 1916, the Company began constructing a chemical plant in Burghausen. The aim was to use hydropower for manufacturing chemical products based on energy-intensive chlorine and acetylene. Using hydropower in Burghausen had two advantages in terms of sustainability. First, by building a canal to WACKER’s hydropower plant, water could be taken out of the Alz River so that annual flooding, resulting in the destruction of farms and land, could be prevented. Second, the power supply was feasible without fossil raw material consumption, primarily coal, or greenhouse gas emissions. In the period of 1920 - 1940, WACKER expanded production lines at its Burghausen site for manufacturing chlorinated hydrocarbons such as trichloroethene, tetrachloroethene and vinyl chloride, polyvinyl chloride, and the non-chlorinated product line of acetaldehyde, acetic acid, 1 Professors Robert Carlson, Feryal Erhun and Dr. Dariush Rafinejad of Stanford Management Science and Engineering Department prepared this case in collaboration with Dr. Klaus Blum, Vice President, Chemical Services, Wacker Chemie AG, in Burghausen, Germany ( www.wacker.com ) as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. Copyright© 2008 by the Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University. All rights reserved.
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2 vinyl acetate and polyvinyl acetate. WACKER was a pioneer in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyvinyl acetate. The production lines operated independent of each other to start with. At the time, unwanted by-products were deposited on the site’s own landfills or disposed of as effluent.
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