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.
Climate Targets Reached Ahead of Time
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 volumes, which have been collected since 2007, document the Group’s continuous progress.
In 2017 fiscal year, the ALTANA Group’s energy consumption amounted to around 697,200 megawatt-hours after 638,900 megawatt-hours in the previous year. Nevertheless, ALTANA achieved an important climate goal three years earlier than planned. The specialty chemicals company reached its long-term goal of reducing its specific CO² emissions from 2007 to 2020 by 30 % to 0.21 kg / €. The Group achieved this aim through its selection of electricity providers. Nearly all of our German sites now obtain around half of their electricity, amounting to 310 g / KWh, from renewable energy sources. In addition, projects to improve energy efficiency were implemented at various sites (see the following pages). As a result, absolute CO² emissions were reduced by 7 % to 187,500 tons.
In 2017, the ALTANA Group further improved its record regarding the volume of hazardous waste it produced in relation to gross value added. At 19,300 tons, the amount of hazardous waste was not only below the targeted upper limit, but also slightly under the previous year’s level (around 19,400 tons). The amount of non-hazardous waste rose from 8,700 to 11,700 tons, thus exceeding the target value for 2017. The triggers are process changes and warehousing measures, such as the disposal of products and raw materials that have passed their sell-by date.
ALTANA’s water consumption record was also positive in 2017. The drinking water consumption was below the upper limit set for the year, decreasing by 3 % to 1,239,600 cubic meters.
In the period under review, ALTANA increased its production of finished goods to 534,800 tons, needing 601,800 tons of raw material. Of the latter amount, 441,700 tons were fossil raw materials, 23,500 tons renewable raw materials, and 136,600 tons non-fossil and non-renewable raw materials. 48,100 tons of water were also used as raw material.
Detailed information on the Group’s resource and energy consumption (differentiated based on electricity, natural gas, and oil) and on ALTANA’s environmental key performance indicators can be found in the document “Sustainability Key Performance Indicators and Management Approaches” on our website www.altana.com/sustainability_performance_indicators_2017.
In 2017, 81 % of the Group’s 48 manufacturing sites fulfilled the ISO 14001 standard. Nine sites are not yet certified in accordance with ISO 14001 and have three years to become certified. New sites are already included in the total number of 48 manufacturing sites.
And ten sites have energy management systems that have been certified in accordance with ISO 50001.
Significant Progress in Climate Protection
The optimization of manufacturing plants has made an important contribution to the ALTANA Group’s good climate-protection development. This progress will enable us to further reduce our energy consumption – and thus CO² emissions – in the coming years. For example, ACTEGA prepared a comprehensive package of measures to improve energy usage at its Bremen site.
At the center is the control of the cooling tower with its eight pumps, which supply the various product lines for thermoplastic elastomers, as well as the laboratory, with cooling water. Instead of having to operate all of the pumps at the same time, as has been the case so far, in the future it will be possible to control one or more pumps in accordance with needs. Thus, pumps not needed on weekends or during the late shift can be switched off. As a result, the annual electricity consumption of the sealants supplier will decrease to a total of 550 megawatt-hours (corresponding to 170 tons of CO²) in 2018. In parallel, around 50,000 less liters of water will be consumed per year.
ECKART also contributes to environmental protection. An example is its nitrogen consumption. The effect-pigment specialist uses nitrogen as protective gas and produces some of it itself at its Wackersdorf site. A compressor was converted to speed control in the nitrogen production system, reducing the electricity consumption significantly. As a result, CO² emissions decreased by almost 100 tons.
At its Grevenbroich site, ACTEGA is investing in the optimization of its production plants to improve energy efficiency. To this end, the company is reconstructing the bead mills for pigment grinding as well as the agitators in which the components for packaging coatings are mixed.
On the basis of a comprehensive energy-efficiency analysis, BYK improved the exhaust air cleaning system at its site in Gonzales by incorporating thermal afterburning. The system is used to burn ethanol-containing process gases that arise when additive powder is dried. In the process, it makes the hydrocarbons, which are regarded as volatile organic compounds (VOC), harmless. The additives and instruments specialist can now close one of the four exhaust air cleaning systems and use the resulting waste heat for steam production. With these measures, BYK can save a total of 4,800 megawatt-hours of heat (corresponding to 1,027 tons of CO²).
Using Water Resources Even More Sparingly
Water plays an important role in many of the ALTANA Group’s production processes. In the interest of the environment, the company makes an effort to use as little water as possible. In 2017, the specialty chemicals group made further progress thanks to corresponding investments. An example is the cooling system at BYK’s Earth City site. The system was already optimized in the planning and implementation stages, enabling approximately 20,000 cubic meters / year of water to be avoided. This is possible because the new cooling is based on a closed system and thus a regular fresh water supply is superfluous.
At its Louisville site, BYK reduced drinking-water consumption by around a third with the help of process optimizations (from 271,600 to 185,200 cubic meters). Thanks to a new cooling circuit system, the Schkopau site decreased its consumption of surface water from 65,000 cubic meters to 7,000 cubic meters.
By means of various measures, ACTEGA is also helping conserve water resources. At its site in São Paulo, wastewater from the lab is treated such that it can be used further internally. And at its site in Lincolnton, the supplier of special coatings, printing inks, and adhesives also optimized its wastewater treatment. Instead of having the water used to clean tanks, machines, and production rooms treated by external service providers, ACTEGA does this itself now using a new method. The liquids are cleansed of color residue and solids before they are fed into the municipal sewer system.
Further Waste Management Improvement
Optimization of waste management is also a central sustainability target of the ALTANA Group. Therefore, a number of intelligent recycling measures were taken in the 2017 fiscal year.
For example, at its Güntersthal site ECKART utilizes zinciron sludge from its Vetróz site as a source of zinc for its own production. Furthermore, efficiency measures introduced by the effect-pigment specialist in Germany decreased the amount of so-called gold bronze scrap by 10 %. The remaining waste is sold to third parties for smelting.
The specialist for insulation materials for the electric and electronics industry ELANTAS further improved its waste management by introducing a number of measures. At its Ankleshwar site, the distillation apparatus was optimized such that a substance is isolated and then can be used again as an intermediate. In this way, ELANTAS reduced the amount of disposable organic waste by 5 %.
At ELANTAS in Tongling, a method was developed for recycling and reusing solvents from cleaning agents that are used to clean raw-material transport containers. As a result, the amount of cleaning-solvent waste was reduced by 80 %. Last but not least, the insulating material specialist purchases raw materials in larger containers, which are subsequently reused internally. As a consequence, around 600 small barrels that can only be used once become superfluous each year.