Environmentally friendly management is a key component of ALTANA’s corporate strategy. Our goal is to steadily reduce the energy consumption at all sites and in all areas. We also implement this objective in other environmentally relevant areas, such as waste and the consumption of drinking water.
Environmental Key Performance Indicators Improved
ALTANA controls the Group’s environmental protection performance with the help of self-defined environmental key figures that set the company’s energy and resource consumption in relation to gross value added and specify upper limits for consumption for each reporting period. The data on CO² emissions, water consumption, and waste amounts, which have been collected since 2007, document the Group’s continuous progress.
In the year under review, the Group’s companies significantly improved their environmental key figures in nearly all areas. The progress made in lowering CO² emissions was particularly remarkable in 2016.
In the year under review, the CO² emissions throughout the Group were only slightly above the upper limit ALTANA defined, a value that sets the actual consumption in relation to the gross value added. This was due to the manufacturing processes in the rheology additives operations the company acquired in 2013. Owing to investments at the sites in question and to the introduction of certified environmental management systems in accordance with ISO 14001, we expect ALTANA to achieve its defined climate goals Group-wide in the future.
The overall energy consumption within the Group decreased by 7 % to around 638,900 megawatt hours in the year under review. As a result, CO² emissions decreased by 4 % from around 210,900 to 202,200 tons. ALTANA will determine the Group’s indirect emissions arising due to energy consumption connected with product transports, business trips, and sourcing of raw materials in the next few years. Further information on the Group’s CO² emissions is provided in the document “Sustainability Performance Indicators” on our website.
In 2016, the Group’s waste amounts in relation to gross value added were below the upper limits stipulated for the year under review. The amount of hazardous and nonhazardous waste amounted to around 19,400 tons and 8,700 tons, respectively.
Our water consumption targets could not be achieved in 2016. While at 1,274,300 cubic meters the water consumption was significantly lower than in 2015 (1,472,900 cubic meters), it exceeded the upper limit defined for the year.
Detailed environmental key figures can be found in the document “Sustainability Performance Indicators” on our website. They compare the energy consumption (differentiated according to electricity, natural gas, and coal) with the previous year and set the CO² emissions in relation to 2007. The key figures for water consumption and for waste (differentiated according to hazardous and non-hazardous waste), on the other hand, are set in relation to the data from 2012.
In 2016, ALTANA manufactured around 516,100 tons of finished goods and needed some 576,700 tons of raw materials to do so. More than 71 % (409,500 tons) are fossil raw materials. In addition, 19,300 tons of renewable raw materials, around 147,900 tons of non-fossil and non-renewable raw materials, and 69,700 tons of water were processed as raw material.
In 2016, 83 % of the Group’s 46 manufacturing sites met the ISO 14001 standard. Ten sites have a certified energy management system in accordance with ISO 50001.
Climate Protection Thanks to Lower Emissions
The optimization of production plants makes an important contribution to improving ALTANA’s environmental key figures, as the example of BYK at our U.S. site in Louisville shows. By changing the cleaning processes within the production process, the company conserves a substantial amount of water and energy. The water consumption decreases by more than 30,000 cubic meters a year, the CO² emissions by 660 tons.
Our German sites in Wesel and Hamburg as well as our sites in Foshan (China) and Louisville (U.S.) also contribute to climate protection. At its Louisville site, ECKART was able to reduce its gas consumption after it had replaced three of its five devices for distilling white spirit with a centrifuge in 2016. The Wesel site managed to reduce its CO² emissions by more than 900 tons a year. Among other things, the optimization of the thermal incineration system contributed to this result. In addition, the company optimized the compressed air and nitrogen facility such that no more leaks could arise. Such leaks had been identified by the company’s trainees within the framework of a so-called energy scout project.
In Hamburg, ELANTAS managed to reduce its CO² emissions by 370 tons a year. This was achieved, on the one hand, by improving the energy efficiency of the cooling systems. On the other hand, the thermal exhaust air cleaning system was optimized. It harnesses the exhaust heat resulting from combustion of waste gases to heat the production vessels and buildings. At the same time, this leads to a reduction of the annual costs for the purchase of natural gas. In Foshan, ACTEGA ensured a significant reduction of VOC emissions by installing a new thermal exhaust air cleaning system.
The introduction of innovative LED technologies for lighting is another measure that will enable several Group companies to reduce electricity consumption in the future. In 2016, our Bremen, Hamburg, and Hartenstein sites in Germany, and our Chester, Gonzales, Louisville, Painesville, and Schererville sites in the U.S. made corresponding investments.
Another way of driving climate protection forward is by choosing a suitable electricity supplier. With its selection of the company that will supply electricity to the ten manufacturing sites in Germany from 2017 to 2019, ALTANA managed to identify a sustainable supplier. This was preceded by a Germany-wide request for proposal in which eleven companies took part. The selection criteria included the suppliers’ service (20 %) as well as economic efficiency and sustainability (each 40 %). Among the sustainability criteria were the CO² values of the potential supplier, the share of renewable energies in its electricity mix, and its sustainability strategy.
At ALTANA, water is playing an ever more important role in many manufacturing processes. In general, the Group’s companies treat the resulting wastewater such that it can be fed into the sewage system or, if there is no other option, disposed of as special waste. Wherever possible, ALTANA invests in technologies that foster careful management of the valuable resource water. In 2016, the companies also made progress in this area, and their efforts will pay off in the years to come.
At its Schkopau site, BYK installed a new cooling circuit system that will curtail the use of river water by 90 % in the coming year. With the new system, the cooling capacity remains constant throughout the year. There will be a slight drawback, however, as the resulting electricity consumption will increase moderately. At their Chester and Foshan sites, BYK and ACTEGA, respectively, invested in special recycling technologies in 2016. These technologies ensure that used water can be utilized in the process of waste disposal and to clean plants, thus cutting the total water consumption. Furthermore, at the Chester site changes in the organization of production should reduce the amount of water needed to clean the production vessels.
Reducing the Amount of Waste
Reducing the Group’s waste volume is another pillar of ALTANA’s environmental management activities. New technologies support this goal, as shown by the example of ACTEGA in the U.S. state of North Carolina. In the year under review, ACTEGA North America tested a new method that would enable waste volumes to be cut by 75 %. In keeping with this method, the company itself would treat the wastewater arising from coatings manufacture to such an extent that it can subsequently be fed into the municipal sewer system. When the method is introduced in 2017, an external service provider will no longer be needed.
In Hamburg, ELANTAS changed the production of silicone sealants such that solvent-based cleaning is no longer necessary, reducing the Group’s hazardous waste by eleven tons a year.
Another alternative is to refrain from disposing of waste that has been classified as hazardous so far, and instead to make it available to third parties for further use. Particularly suitable for this purpose are solvents that can be processed by the manufacturers into diluting agents depending on their quality. The plastics industry is a potential purchaser of certain by-products, for example toluene diisocyanate. It can use such waste as raw material. In the first half of 2016, BYK was able to utilize almost a third of its hazardous waste in this way at its Wesel, Kempen, and Emmelsum sites alone.