Minimizing operational waste

Everyone at ExxonMobil plays a role in reducing operational waste. Our “waste mitigation hierarchy” prioritizes waste avoidance when feasible and when waste is unavoidable, we work to reduce, recover or reuse it whenever possible. We aim to dispose of waste only if other options have been exhausted and we have robust processes to select waste sites that meet our high standards and expectations. Our global network of lubricants blending and packaging plants have a Zero Waste to Landfill Silver validation from Underwriter’s Laboratory.  We were the first petroleum products company to receive this status by diverting over 90% of waste produced in our global plant network from local landfills.

Report

Explore

Minimizing operational waste
Image United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to this content.

Approach

We try to avoid generating waste, and take a broad range of measures to mitigate and eliminate waste that is generated. They include source reduction, reuse, recycling, reclamation, handling, storage, transportation, as well as treatment and/or disposal of any remaining waste in compliance with applicable regulations.

Objectives

Our objective is to continuously look for ways to minimize waste through practices like process changes; raw material changes; material handling, storage, transportation as well as treatment and/or disposal of any remaining waste in compliance with applicable regulations. To do that, we utilize a waste mitigation hierarchy that starts with waste avoidance. 

Reduce / Recover / Reuse

Systems in place to separate oil from water and solids, so oil is recovered and water is reused. Where practical, waste materials are collected and sent for beneficial reuse where they can be used to generate other sources of fuel.

Avoid waste

Facilities designed and operated to be efficient, and optimize materials and feedstocks.

Recycle

Waste segregation processes in place to collect recyclable materials including paper, plastic, electronics, aluminum, used oil, oil filters, glycols, scrap metal, tires, batteries and aerosol cans.

Treat

Where appropriate, impacted soil and groundwater at our operating and surplus sites are treated to reduce waste volume or eliminate contaminants.

Dispose

In an environmentally responsible manner.


Management and application

ExxonMobil regularly reviews and improves methods for managing waste at our facilities and the third party waste management facilities we use.

Project Waste Management Standard

In 2021, ExxonMobil updated and enhanced our Project Waste Management Standard, which informs project concept selection and facility design to:

  • Ensure that proper management, treatment, and disposal infrastructure is available for all waste from project construction and operations.
  • Reduce the quantity of and hazards associated with the waste generated during the operation of new facilities.
  • Promote enhanced waste minimization and recycling/reuse throughout the asset life cycle.

Waste site audit program

ExxonMobil is committed to using third-party waste facilities that employ industry best practices for waste management and environmental protection.  To do this, we have an audit program for evaluating those facilities for compliance with our program requirements. This program identifies waste facilities in most countries where ExxonMobil operates and these facilities are reviewed by internal experts and audited by independent contractors. Areas of evaluation include the waste facility’s design and operations, regulatory compliance history, management systems, site geology and groundwater, safety, community relations, security and financial capacity.

Zero Waste to Landfill

Since 2018, ExxonMobil’s global network of lubricants blending and packaging plants, which manufacture all Mobil-branded Lubricant products, has earned a Zero Waste to Landfill Silver validation from Underwriters Laboratories. ExxonMobil is the first petroleum products company to achieve this validation1.

Because ExxonMobil’s lubricant operations divert from local landfills over 90% of the waste produced in the global plant network, more than 50,000 tons of waste produced per year are redeployed into new, productive uses. 

Eliminating waste - Energy Factor (exxonmobil.com)

Supply chain waste management

ExxonMobil works with our suppliers to identify sustainable alternatives throughout the supply chain. Our procurement organization’s Total System Cost approach stresses the selection of logistics systems with the lowest total costs and is intended to identify and reduce waste and inefficiency in the supply chain. In addition, our global sourcing strategy development process encourages the consideration of environmental performance.

Decommissioning and rehabilitation

Decommissioning is the process of dismantling, removing and/or reusing facilities. ExxonMobil’s approach to decommissioning assets varies by location, type of asset and environmental characteristics of the site. We incorporate applicable regulatory requirements and globally acceptable practices, and take into account views expressed by relevant stakeholders, including fishing communities, environmental organizations, recycling experts and academia.

Decommissioning an offshore asset presents complex challenges. In addition to the inherent risks of removal, our plans must consider each asset's specific marine ecosystems and facility characteristics, including complexity, size and weight. Planning and preparation for decommissioning assets can start up to 10 years before execution, and ExxonMobil has a dedicated offshore decommissioning Center of Expertise for this purpose.

Often, instead of decommissioning an asset, the company chooses to rehabilitate it. Rehabilitation is the process of safely repurposing properties that no longer support our operations. We consider the interests of various stakeholders when selecting site-specific approaches to repurpose properties. Our goal is to prevent legacy impacts on the environment while creating opportunities for beneficial reuse. ExxonMobil Environmental and Property Solutions (E&PS) is our global organization that supports the remediation and stewardship of surplus onshore sites.

Performance

E&PS has managed more than $8 billion of remediation work and returned 2,500 properties to beneficial end uses since the group’s creation in 2008. In 2021, E&PS managed approximately 4,100 active remediation onshore sites in 25 countries.