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Waste reduction

Reducing waste supports our operations and our communities

We focus our waste reduction efforts on diverting waste from the landfill in order to reduce our environmental footprint, conserve valuable operational resources and help the communities that we serve.

Our zero waste-to-landfill program has engaged our employees in sustainability and removed waste and GHGs from landfills in our local communities. It also supports our operational excellence and manufacturing efforts by focusing on redesigning our processes to eliminate waste.

Our commitment to reducing waste sent to landfill

In 2010 we committed to reducing our waste to landfill by 30 percent, indexed to sales, by 2015. We significantly beat that goal through the success of our zero waste-to-landfill program, reducing our landfilled waste by 44 percent during the period.  

We encourage our facilities to achieve zero waste-to-landfill as part of their waste management program and also as a means to reduce the release of GHG associated with landfills, especially methane, a GHG 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

An Eaton facility is designated as a zero waste-to-landfill site when it consistently achieves a diversion rate of 98 percent through recycling, reuse, composting or incineration (when the heat generated is collected and used to create more energy than required for incineration). We modeled our zero-waste benchmark on standards set by an internationally recognized certifying organization.

Zero waste-to-landfill is a goal by our most-senior leadership. Our program prioritizes beneficial diversion (source reduction, then beneficial reuse, then recycling).

Eaton facilities participating in zero waste-to-landfill will:

  • Emphasize source reduction by reducing the total amount of waste generated and, where possible, by removing waste streams entirely.
  • Identify new suppliers, where possible, to divert remaining waste streams from a landfill. Zero-waste sites typically deploy a combination of recycling, re-use, composting and incineration (with energy recovery).
  • Engage employees to cultivate a culture where diverting waste from landfill is standard practice. Activities such as “dumpster dives,” suggestion boxes, games and prizes help to encourage participation.
  • Capitalize on efficiencies of scale. Best practices are shared among sites in specific regions or with similar operations. In North America, for example, our waste management broker helps identify common solutions for all our sites in the region.

Internal audits are conducted to ensure site compliance with the zero waste-to-landfill program benchmarks. Audits include validation of diversion rates, diversion methods and reported data.

All Eaton sites must manage waste responsibly in accordance with regulations and our internal EHS Management (MESH) standards, including identifying all waste streams and creating waste minimization plans.

Eaton EHS management — continuous improvement for environment, health and safety

EHS policy

Eaton is committed to minimizing the environmental impact of our operations and products wherever we do business, and to continuously improve in our Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) performance. It is the responsibility of every employee to meet this EHS policy.

To that end, Eaton applies a standard group of practices worldwide for ethics, energy and water consumption, waste generation, product quality, employee safety and more. We specifically direct our EHS efforts in the following areas:

  • EHS Management System: Eaton is guided by MESH (Management of Environment, Safety, Security and Health), a globally deployed, unified system which consolidates existing programs into one integrated management system. All Eaton facilities worldwide work toward consistent goals, applying the same metrics, setting targets for improvement and identifying and sharing best practices. Most importantly, MESH elevates EHS from a series of isolated activities to a responsibility shared by all Eaton employees. MESH is also designed to conform with international standards such as ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001/ISO 45001.
  • Environmental Sustainability: We commit to minimize our emissions to air, water and land resulting from our operations. Eaton's Senior Leadership Council drives our sustainability strategy, optimizes our resources and ensures that we are focusing on the environmental risks and opportunities that are most important to our customers, investors, communities and employees. We establish goals for reducing our environmental impact and measure, review and report our progress to the public.

    Eaton supports collective actions that will lead to the worldwide reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to address the risks of climate change. Using guidelines established by the Global Reporting Initiative, we set annual targets for reduction of our worldwide energy consumption and carbon emissions. Progress is audited by a third party and reported to the public.
  • Health, Safety and Security: Working safely is a condition of employment at Eaton. Our goal is to provide a secure and safe work environment for all of our employees, contractors and visitors. Eaton commits to meet or exceed regulatory and company requirements consistent with Eaton’s policies on Ethics and Compliance. We work to create a “zero incident safety culture” and to continuously improve our health and safety performance through the implementation of MESH. Safety rules apply to all third parties performing activities at Eaton locations including suppliers, contingent workers, contractors, vendors, visitors and all other non-Eaton employees.
  • Business Integration: We integrate EHS into all phases of the Eaton Business System (EBS), which provides Eaton’s foundation for a high-performance culture through an integrated operating system. EBS encompasses the core values, policies and processes used to conduct business and continually measure, assess and improve performance. EHS excellence is integral to all of our business strategies and we consider stakeholder expectations in our decision-making process.
  • Compliance: We commit to meet or exceed regulatory and company requirements consistent with Eaton’s Policies on Ethics and Compliance. We work to create a “zero incident mindset” and to continuously improve our performance through the implementation of MESH.
  • Sustainable Products: Our businesses are committed to creating innovative products and processes that help customers, suppliers and consumers improve their energy efficiency, reduce emissions and protect health and safety. We commit to continuous improvement through various programs, including Design for Environment (DfE) and Lifecycle Assessment (LCA), scientific processes that both identify a product’s environmental aspects and potential impacts throughout its life cycle.
  • Stakeholders: Eaton is committed to stakeholder engagement as a key part of our sustainability efforts. Having regular and open dialogue with our employees, investors, customers, suppliers, governments, local communities and others allows us to gain a common understanding of issues that are important and work together to achieve our highest level of environmental and safety performance.
  • Supply Chain: Eaton recognizes the significance of the supply chain in our own sustainability performance, and strategically engages with suppliers on important issues such as managing emissions, improving safety, and increasing efficiency. Our governance processes further ensure our suppliers are held to our same values regarding ethical behavior, compliance, environmental responsibility and footprint reduction.
  • Transparency: Increasing the transparency of our EHS performance makes Eaton a stronger, more sustainable company. We are committed to measure, review and report our performance to the public in our company Annual Report/Sustainability Report, on our web site, and by working with organizations that collect and disseminate EHS and other sustainability data to the public.
  • Community: We are committed to making power management products and solutions in safe workplaces that are environmentally responsible. We participate in — and contribute to — local and government initiatives around the world that improve the quality of life in communities where we live and work.
  • Employees: We commit to raise awareness, encourage involvement and provide appropriate training and education for all employees regarding EHS issues, programs and performance.
  • Emergency Preparedness/Contingency Planning: Eaton’s MESH program provides processes to identify key EHS risks and impacts, develop operational controls, and prepare emergency response and contingency plans. Eaton facilities provide planning, equipment and training for on-site incidents and our employees work with local community safety units to prepare for combined response.

The Eaton Senior Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety is responsible for implementing the EHS policy. The Eaton Board of Directors Governance Committee has oversight regarding significant public policy with respect to our relationships with shareholders, employees, customers, competitors, suppliers and the communities in which we operate. These issues include EHS concerns as outlined in the Eaton EHS policy.


Eaton is proud to have strong internal processes and controls for managing our sustainability performance. Many of these controls connect individuals and teams across our company and include management at each level of the organization.

How we measure success

Our emphasis on zero waste-to-landfill energizes our sites into action and has inspired them to reduce their waste sent to landfill in excess of our annual reduction percentage goals.

In 2014, the first year the program was launched, 15 of our sites were certified as zero waste-to-landfill. To date, over 100 Eaton sites are zero waste-to-landfill, and we achieved an absolute waste reduction of over 16 percent. Our overall waste reduction efforts removed roughly 6,000 metric tons of waste from the landfill, avoiding 5,300 metric tons of GHG emissions.