Chip companies find a way to utilize wastewater components

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Chip companies find a way to utilize wastewater components

A Samsung Electronics employee, left, and a Pos Ceramics employee pose for a photo holding wastewater sludge and the fluorite alternative product that was made with it. [SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]

A Samsung Electronics employee, left, and a Pos Ceramics employee pose for a photo holding wastewater sludge and the fluorite alternative product that was made with it. [SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]

 
Semiconductor manufacturers are striving to develop technology for the reuse of wastewater sludge that is a byproduct of the chip manufacturing process.
 
This comes as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) management is growing in importance worldwide. Large Korean companies have been aggressively seeking to make their businesses more environmentally friendly.  
 
On Sept. 27, Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Steel said that they have developed a recycling technology to extract calcium fluoride from the wastewater. It can be used as an alternative to fluorite.
 
Fluorite is used in steelmaking to reduce melting temperatures and remove impurities. Korean steelmakers rely entirely on imports for the material, mostly from China and South American countries.
 
Hyundai Steel imports about 20,000 tons of fluorite a year. Using the new technology, the company plans to replace 10,000 tons of fluorite with recycled wastewater sludge starting end of October at the earliest.
 
The latest technology will allow Hyundai Steel to “reduce procurement costs for fluorite,” the company said. Samsung Electronics said it will seek for more ways to recycle the wastewater sludge using the technology.  
 
Since August last year, the two companies have been working with Busan-based Pos Ceramics to develop recycling technology for wastewater sludge. In April, Hyundai Steel succeed in producing steel at its steel mill in Dangjin, South Chungcheong, using 30 tons of fluorite alternative products.
 
Their new technology was approved on Aug. 31 after assessments from Korea Environment Corporation and National Institute of Environmental Research.
 
“We look forward to expand our eco-friendly recycling technology in order to achieve a 100 percent recycling rate,” said Jang Sung-dae, head of environment and safety center at the Samsung Electronics Device Solutions division.
 
In 2019, SK hynix became the first Korean company to obtain “Zero Waste to Landfill Validation” from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the U.S. safety standard certification organization. SK hynix’s waste recycling rates in its Icheon plant is about 93 percent and at the Cheongju plant it is 94 percent, according to the company.
 
SK siltron’s second Gumi plant has received the "Gold Zero Waste to Landfill Validation" certification from UL. Platinum is given to companies with recycling rate of 100 percent, with Gold between 95 to 99 percent and Silver between 90 and 94 percent.
 
Its third Gumi plant already received the certification in May.
 
“We aim to obtain the certification for the first Gumi plant by the first half of next year,” said a spokesperson for SK siltron.

BY CHOI EUN-KYUNG, SARAH CHEA [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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