Appropriate Management of Water Resources


The manufacturing sites of the KOBELCO Group use large quantities of water for cooling, cleaning, and other purposes, and we recognize that water shortages constitute a risk. There is also the risk of operations being impacted by flood damage such as torrential rain, which tends toward increasing severity. Furthermore, we recognize that violations of environmental laws and regulations, ordinances, and agreements carry the risk of affecting the environment and living things in public waters. On the other hand, we see the business of purifying water and providing safe water as an opportunity

The WRI Aqueduct evaluation shows that the risk of water shortages and flood damage at our Group domestic production sites is low. Nevertheless, to prepare for all eventualities, we are working to reduce the amount of water resources used in our facilities by promoting more efficient water use in the production process and the use of recycled water and improving the water recycling rate. In addition, to address wastewater risks, we will not only comply with regulations, but we will also strive to reduce the discharge of pollutants into public water areas by cleaning up wastewater from the production process with a treatment system suitable for the characteristics of the wastewater.

Management Structure

The Environmental Management & Disaster Prevention Subcommittee deliberates, reports, and evaluates policies, action plans, and results of initiatives concerning the appropriate management of our Group’s water resources at least once a year. This management cycle is properly implemented. Important matters are reported and submitted to the Executive Council through the Sustainability Management Committee, to which the subcommittee reports.

Targets and Results

1. Targets

We have set the following targets and are working to address water shortage and wastewater risks.

2. Results

Water Intake, Discharge, and Recycling Rate Data for the Past Three Years (Kobe Steel, Ltd.; unit: 10,000 m3)1

Item Fiscal 2019 Fiscal 2020 Fiscal 2021
Water withdrawal by source
Fresh water
(Tap water and industrial water provided by the waterworks bureau in each area)2
4,899 4,782 5,067
Groundwater (recyclable) 481 510 525
Seawater for cooling 267,406 257,072 263,576
Water withdrawal total3 272,786 262,364 269,169
Water discharge total by discharge destination
Rivers 169 183 190
Sea water 270,012 259,652 266,145
Sewage 63 56 71
Discharge total 270,245 259,891 266,406
Discharge by each treatment method4
No treatment (including discharge to sewage) - 471 426
Primary - 900 902
Secondary - 17 21
Tertiary - 1,433 1,481
Fresh water withdrawal and discharge
Water withdrawal total 4,899  4,782  5,067 
Water discharge tota 2,297  2,820  2,829 
Consumption 2,541  2,472  2,763 
Total recycled water 117,171 124,441 125,392
Recycling rate5 96% 96% 96%

Data on Water Pollution Load* (Kobe Steel, Ltd. and domestic Group companies)

 Item Target Fiscal 2020 Fiscal 2021
 Water discharge total - 2,598,130,000 m3 2,664,060,000 m3
 COD 474t 243t 224t
 Total nitrogen 2,513t 1,915t 1,887t
 Total phosphorus 23t 3t 3t

The KOBELCO Group’s Initiatives

Improvement of Water Recycling Rate and Reduction of Pollution Load

Development of Water Management Plans in the Group

Of the Group’s 32 major production sites in Japan, 14 that account for 44% have formulated water management plans, monitor water intake, discharge, and recycling; and are working to properly manage water resources and reduce environmental impact.

Initiatives to Reduce Water Usage at Business Sites

At Kakogawa Works, we are promoting the effective use of water resources, such as by monitoring withdrawal and discharge through continuous measurement of flow rates at drains, and by recycling water to use again at the site after purifying wastewater from each production process through coagulation sedimentation, sand filtering, etc. In this way, the water recycling rate reaches approximately 97%.

Collaboration with External Bodies to Reduce Water Use

In Toyama Prefecture, where Nippon Koshuha Steel Co., Ltd. is located, the amount of water allocated to companies is ensured, but in order to leave enough water for snow clearing, every year the prefecture calls on factories, workplaces, offices, and snow-clearing equipment managers to voluntarily save water from December to February. In order to do its part, Nippon Koshuha Steel is working to reduce its water usage as much as possible.

Preparation for Flood Damage and Other Natural Disasters

As the type and severity of a natural disaster can vary by site, each site regularly checks the latest hazard maps provided by local authorities and prepares for the risk accordingly.

Evaluation of Water Shortage and Water Stress

Every year, each business site estimates the amount of water it expects to use in the subsequent fiscal year and determines whether the amount of contracted industrial water meets its needs. When a water shortage is anticipated, each business site secures substitute water resources and evaluates how this will affect production.

The Head Office evaluates water stress of the region where the business sites are located with WRI Aqueduct and reports any problems (if any) to necessary directors and executive officers.

In the WRI Aqueduct assessment for fiscal 2021, none of the Group’s business sites or Group companies in Japan are located in regions of high water stress or above and no production sites posed issues. In addition, we have secured a certain volume of water from the supply sources, and we believe that the risk of water withdrawal affecting production is low.

At Kakogawa Works, for example, the risk of water intake affecting production is thought to be low because upstream from the water used is the Gongen Dam (total storage capacity: 11.12 million tons), constructed to ensure a stable supply of industrial water from the Kakogawa River as well as the Kakogawa Weir (total storage capacity: 1.96 million tons) and the Heiso Dam (total storage capacity: 9.40 million m3), which were constructed to ensure the flow rate of industrial water.

Assessment of Supply Chain Water Shortages and Water Stress

As well as identifying risks from past cases of flood damage in areas from which we procure raw materials, we analyze water risk in those areas using WRI Aqueduct, and are working to diversify raw materials suppliers based on the results of this risk analysis.

Expenses Associated with Water-Related Risks and Investment to Mitigate Water-Related Risks (Fiscal 2021)

R&D expenses for water treatment-related projects and water pollution prevention projects used for the prevention of abnormal water discharge or inspection/maintenance of water treatment facilities are presented below.

Item Fiscal 2019 Fiscal 2020 Fiscal 2021
Equipment investment Expenses Equipment investment Expenses Equipment investment Expenses
Expenses for water pollution prevention* 6.2 49.4  2.1  39.4  0.8  46.6 
R&D expenses for water treatment-related projects 7.9  - 5.3  3.2 

Compliance with Laws and Regulations

We comply with regulatory limits stipulated by laws and regulations. If stricter regulatory limits have been set by agreements with local governments, we strive to comply with them.

In fiscal 2021, there were three cases in Japan where water quality values exceeded regulation standards, and one overseas. All the cases were discovered by self-inspections and promptly reported to the relevant authorities. No fines or punishments were imposed.

Response to the CDP Water Security Questionnaire

Kobe Steel, Ltd. has been responding to questionnaires from CDP,1 an international NGO, since fiscal 2009. Please refer to the following for our response to the 2022 Water Security Questionnaire.

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