Water is a precious natural resource that is vital to Amgen's business and also to the ecosystems and communities in which we operate. Since water is the primary compound in the human body and a key ingredient in Amgen medicines, we care deeply about all aspects of water as a natural resource. As a result, our staff strives to conserve water in strategic ways that support our business while fulfilling our responsibilities for water compliance.
Proactive Response to Drought
Our two largest sites are situated in locations—California and Puerto Rico—that experienced extreme drought conditions in 2015. While we have made good progress towards our 2020 water conservation goals, in recognition of the extreme conditions in these locations, we moved quickly to assess and implement short- and long-term strategies to enhance existing water conservation programs at all sites in these locations.
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown mandated a 25 percent average water use reduction for cities and towns across the state, varying by county. These requirements focused primarily on outdoor uses of water, such as irrigation. Amgen readily complied with local requirements and exceeded these requirements at the Thousand Oaks campus by installing an extensive, highly efficient smart irrigation system. This irrigation system, when fully operational, is programmed to understand the water needs of landscaping in more than 1,000 different zones on campus, draws data from nearby weather stations, calculates irrigation needs, and automatically irrigates on an as-needed basis. The precision that the smart system brings to irrigation creates water savings of more than 26,000 cubic meters (CM) per year. The system can also sense leaks or other problems within irrigation zones and issues alerts if there is a malfunction.
In 2015, we continued to monitor water usage at our Thousand Oaks headquarters at the building level and identify issues and opportunities for conservation. Towards the end of 2015, we also conducted a comprehensive site audit and analysis of water use. Staff and consultants walked through every single building and assessed nearly every room and piece of equipment that uses water. The assessment allows us to identify projects that will have the greatest conservation impact, such as an opportunity to conserve water in our reverse osmosis water systems used in clinical manufacturing and building utilities.
Amgen has employed conservation practices for many years at this drought-prone location, such as the use of waterless urinals and integration of low-water use, California-native vegetation into its multi-use facility design. We have also implemented numerous water conservation projects for equipment operations and management in our central utilities plant. Through ongoing and new conservation efforts, we conserved 84,001 CM of water in 2015 at our Thousand Oaks site alone.
Drought also impacted Puerto Rico in 2015. While water restrictions were not imposed by the government, we implemented numerous new approaches to augment longstanding conservation practices at our largest manufacturing facility, Amgen Manufacturing, Limited (AML) in Puerto Rico. Staff made improvements in utilities operations, in facility processes, and in irrigation practices resulting in approximately 167 CM per day in water savings for 2015. The drought emphasized the importance of the site's water recycling plant, which enables an average of 70 percent, or 380,000 CM, of the treated wastewater to be recycled on-site each year.
Recycling and Reclaiming Water
Water recycling and reclamation are key elements of Amgen's water conservation program. In addition to the water recycling plant at AML mentioned above, our staff continually seek opportunities to improve the efficiency of utilities and processes that use water. Purified water, used in operations and in medicines, is an especially critical resource. In 2015, we installed a new, more efficient purification system at our facility in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, to re-treat reject water from the reverse osmosis membranes of our purified water systems, saving more than 10,000 CM of water every year. We began researching and piloting a data management system to understand how various sites use purified water and to judge the efficiency of the systems that create and use this water. We are also researching implementing similar efficiency improvements for water purification systems used in clinical manufacturing.
Water Savings Through Innovation
Innovation can create multifold benefits. Next-Generation Biomanufacturing practices at our new drug-substance manufacturing facility in Singapore are expected to conserve up to 80 percent of process water when compared to traditional manufacturing practices. The single-use technologies employed at this plant eliminate much of the need to use large amounts of purified water to clean equipment after use. Process improvements that increase product yield in a variety of manufacturing settings also conserve water. Energy conservation innovations frequently provide water savings, since water is the vehicle that transfers thermal energy to and from our central utility facilities.
Amgen staff have worked collaboratively with outside service providers to adjust equipment or practices to improve conservation. In 2015, staff collaborated with the manufacturer of a filter we use extensively in manufacturing to make adjustments that are conserving more than 2,097 CM of water a year.
The majority of the water we use—more than 99 percent of it—comes from municipal sources. A much smaller portion—less than 1 percent—comes directly from groundwater. In addition to efforts to reduce the demand for water, as described above, we also work to maximize the amount of water recovered for recycling or reuse, particularly at our facility in Puerto Rico, which features a water treatment and recycling plant that processes wastewater to a standard above potable levels. Overall in 2015, Amgen recycled or reused nearly 559,000 CM of water, representing 21 percent of our total water withdrawal.
Successful water management includes reducing water consumption while also monitoring wastewater discharge. To comply with local wastewater requirements, Amgen facilities operate under agreements that regulate the amounts and types of materials discharged in wastewater, and each facility adheres to all applicable reporting requirements. Many municipalities have awarded Amgen for the successful and compliant management of wastewater.