TSMC Recovered Firefly Population in Plant Zone
Sep 07, 2020

A repeat winner of the CommonWealth Magazine Corporate Citizen Awards in the large corporation category, Taiwan Semiconductor Corporation (TSMC) is not only Taiwan’s first “firefly factory”, but also the world’s first semiconductor firm to join the RE100 initiative. For TSMC, corporate responsibility is not just about image, but the pursuit of balance between technology and ecology.

Workers finishing their shift at TSMC stroll over to Fab 14. There, as night falls, over 200 fireflies begin dancing gracefully in the air. TSMC is Taiwan’s first company to successfully recover a population of fireflies inside a production facility.

As the U.S.-China trade war rages on, TSMC is a critical global semiconductor giant. Having led from the front in production processes, TSMC senior vice president and chair of the company’s corporate social responsibility committee, Laura Ho, related during an interview that technological and ecological balance are objectives that TSMC is actively pursuing.

Only plant where fireflies make a habitat

The incubation of fireflies symbolizes TMSC’s successful efforts to reduce environmental damage. This is demonstrated by the use of recycled plant water for the fireflies’ habitat, eco pond, and plant cultivation.

Without the experience of recycling, stable water resources over an extended period, as well as maintaining stable water pH through scientific methods, the fireflies would not likely be attracted to make their home here.

TSMC’s CSR report expressly stresses that, in response to climate change, and to strengthen the efficiency of green manufacturing, the company is expanding the use of recycled water resources and raising the proportion of revitalized renewable resources, which are major objectives in achieving a circular economy.

Lin Tzu-lun, executive director of the Office of Energy and Carbon Reduction, Executive Yuan, relates that TSMC signed a 20-year contract for the sale and purchase of electricity with offshore wind generation operator Ørsted, while also joining the global renewable energy advocacy group RE100. “This represents a sea change in the business world, showing that renewable energy use among domestic enterprises has entered a new, more proactive era.”

100 percent renewable energy by 2050

Laura Ho relates that, since taking over the role of company CEO, Mark Liu has spent considerable time personally directing TSMC’s CSR platform, establishing the Corporate Social Responsibility Executive Committee, currently chaired by Liu, with Ho as executive secretary. Further, the committee will now report to the company board twice a year instead of once a year.

TSMC’s CSR implementation structure is even clearer, with emphasis on green manufacturing, the responsibility supply chain, a diverse and tolerant workplace, staff education and training, and attention to disadvantaged staff.

Among these, green manufacturing stands out from the rest, stressing continued promotion of green facilities and green supply chains to maximize energy and resource usage efficiency, while actively reducing waste and preventing pollution.

Ho raised TSMC’s promotion of the circular economy and its commitment to renewable energy: Over the short term, TSMC will continue to expand use of renewable energy in Taiwan, with targets of 25 percent of all production plant electricity and 100 percent of non-production plant electricity derived from renewable energy by 2030.

TSMC recently passed a review in July to become the world’s first semiconductor company to join the RE100, committing to using 100 percent renewables for global operations by 2050.

Ho relates that for TSMC, it would be fine if it doesn’t achieve its goals in a year; if that happens, it would only quicken its pace and redouble its efforts.

Taking last year’s electricity consumption for instance, the large-scale incorporation of EUV lithography equipment in advanced production in 2019 led to unexpectedly vast energy consumption. Originally, TSMC set the unit product electricity consumption target at 11.5 percent lower than the baseline year (2010). However, not only did it fail to meet that goal, consumption actually increased by 17.9 percent.

Still, electricity usage and conservation remain major points. As Chuang Tzu-shou states, TSMC is keenly interested in developing new sources of energy, promising to purchase extensive new energy and green energy going forward. As of July, TSMC has contracted for a total renewable energy capacity of 1.2 GW, reducing annual carbon dioxide output by 2.18 metric tons.

Not about image, doggedly pursued council of eco experts

Carbon emissions management, water resources recycling, creating artificial wetlands, and firefly incubation are all ways that TSMC is actively working to reduce ecological impact, even going so far as to cultivate species and greenify the environment.

In the effort to understand which species could be restored in a manufacturing plant area, TSMC specially commissioned the assistance of renowned Taiwanese ecological conservation field company, Observer Ecological Consultants.

Observer president Huang Yu-po states, “We don’t like to take on corporate commissions. Back in the day, TSMC aggressively approached us three times, but we ignored them, since so many companies are just looking out for their image. But later we learned that they are sincere.” Huang notes that TSMC has taken the initiative to do some of the work, but upon reaching a bottleneck, the help of experts should be sought.

For instance, Huang recommended that TSMC relax human control of the environment. The plants are impeccably clean, organized, and disciplined, yet that is not the way for animals and vegetation, as habitat cultivation must be suitably relaxed to make them more natural. Upon hearing this, TSMC actively undertook internal training, learning ecological protection methods anew. “To me, that’s real care for the environment, and a willingness to keep refining and progressing.”

Huang relates that each aspect of habitat ecology is integrally linked, and in addition to incubating fireflies, TSMC has also cultivated dragonflies, collared scops owls, snails, and even endangered plants. “The recycled water is so good that animals and other life forms want to make the plant their home. TSMC has taken CSR to a new level,” he says.

TSMC will continue to bolster CSR efforts moving forward. CEO Mark Liu encourages employees to think of topics, form teams, and boost efforts outside the organization. And by the end of this year, he plans to give out individual and organizational awards to encourage more TSMC colleagues to achieve a virtuous circle of technology and ecology.