Intel Israel and Numonyx dedicated an NIS 80 million membrane bio reactor (MBR) waste treatment facility on Thursday, the largest and most advanced in Israel, that will serve their factories in Kiryat Gat. The facility will render the water used in the factories' production processes suitable for agricultural use according to Environmental Protection Ministry standards. An average of 6,300 cubic meters of water will flow through the facility each day. The 2.4-dunam facility took about a year and a half to complete. It is the first full-scale waste treatment facility the global company Intel has built for any of its factories. Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra was a guest of honor at the ceremony. Intel is best known for producing micro-processors, although they are not its sole product. Numonyx, in which Intel is a partner, is a semi-conductor company specializing in flash memory. Intel Israel general manager Maxine Fassberg told The Jerusalem Post by phone just before the ceremony how the project got started. "We understood that it was our responsibility to deal with the waste water coming from the factories," she said. "It is too hard for the municipalities to raise the necessary funds and to build the facility as quickly as industry needs it. But we were in talks with the Kiryat Gat mayors for several years." The system is hooked up to a pump that is supervised by the municipality. "I think Teva and some companies near the Dead Sea have similar systems, but none so large," Fassberg said. She believes that Israel should be a world leader in environmental protection. "My direct manager was here last week for a visit from abroad and I took him to see the facility," she told the Post. "It was an eye-opener. He hadn't fully appreciated the potential before." Established in 1974, Intel Israel is the country's largest hi-tech employer. In addition to the factory in Kiryat Gat and another in Jerusalem, the company has research and design facilities in Petah Tikva, Yakum and Jerusalem. In all, it employs about 6,200 people, as well as several thousand contractors. The MBR facility was one in a long string of initiatives that Intel Israel had taken to become more environmentally friendly, Fassberg said. It is building the company's first green building in Haifa at a cost of $80m. The building will utilize natural light as much as possible and put the employee at the center of the design process, one of the requirements of green building. According to Intel spokesman Koby Bahar, it should be opened at the end of the first quarter of 2009. The company also encourages carpooling by providing preferential parking spots. In addition, it has launched a pilot program to provide hybrid vehicles for managerial personnel. "I asked one of my executives how he liked his hybrid and he was very enthusiastic about it," Fassberg related. "He said it was much quieter than a regular car and of course his gas consumption was way down." In addition to encouraging recycling, the company also matches and doubles the money from recycled plastic bottles and donates the sum to local community projects. According to Fassberg, the green phenomenon is more complex than just a trend. "There have been companies [that] have instituted environmentally friendly policies for years, without any headlines about it," she said. "For those who felt the environment was important, they always worried about it and protected it. "What's changed now is that more and more companies realize there is a business need not to produce environmentally harmful products. In this day and age, you just can't! The whole issue of corporate social responsibility also includes environmental responsibility," she concluded.