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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.
Improvements in Environmental Performance
The ALTANA Group measures progress in the area of environmental protection using specific key performance indicators. In addition to the absolute values, the figures are set in relation to the quantity of produced finished goods and the gross value added. ALTANA sets annual upper limits for CO2 emissions, water consumption, and waste quantities in relation to gross value added. The development of these indicators is published in the online document “Facts and Figures on Sustainability 2019.”
In the 2019 fiscal year, the ALTANA Group’s energy consumption amounted to around 676,000 megawatt-hours compared to 708,000 megawatt-hours in the previous year. In terms of gross value added, the value changed from 0.76 kWh / € to 0.73 kWh / €. As regards the quantity of produced finished goods, the figure of 1.28 MWh / t was slightly above the previous year’s figure of 1.23 MWh / t. This is mainly due to the lower volume of produced finished goods (2019: 527,000 tons; 2018: 563,000 tons). CO2 emissions decreased from 193,000 tons in 2018 to 182,000 tons in the year under review. The specific indicators remained roughly at the previous year’s level due to the reduction in gross value added and the quantity produced. This was achieved by selecting new electricity suppliers. In 2019, almost all of ALTANA’s German sites obtained around half of their electricity from renewable energy sources. This corresponded to 254 g CO2 / kWh. In addition, projects to improve energy efficiency were implemented at various locations (see following pages).
In 2019, the ALTANA Group reduced the volume of hazardous waste it produced from 18,800 tons in the previous year to 18,100 tons. The key figure related to gross value added also improved, from 20.27 g / € to 19.42 g / €. The volume of non-hazardous waste also decreased in absolute terms, from around 11,400 to 9,600 tons. The key performance indicators relating to gross value added and finished goods produced also show a positive trend (details can be found in the online document “Facts and Figures on Sustainability 2019”).
The reasons for the improvements in the waste volume balance include optimization of production processes and reuse of byproducts.
ALTANA was able to improve both the absolute figures and the key performance indicators for water consumption in the reporting period. The consumption of drinking water in 2019 was around 1,250,000 cubic meters (2018: 1,370,000 cubic meters). The resulting figure based on the quantity of finished goods produced was 2.38 m³ / t (previous year: 2.43 m³ / t). In relation to gross value added, the figure was 1.34 l / € (previous year: 1.48 l / €).
In the period under review, the volume of finished goods produced decreased to 527,000 tons (2018: 563,000 tons). This required 515,000 tons of raw materials, including 382,000 tons of fossil raw materials, 23,000 tons of renewable raw materials, and 110,000 tons of non-fossil and non-renewable raw materials. In addition, 48,000 tons of water were used as raw material. Detailed information on ALTANA’s consumption of resources and energy (differentiated by electricity, natural gas, and oil) as well as environmental key performance indicators can be found in the online document at www.altana.com/facts_figures_sustainability_ 2019.
In 2019, 89 % of the ALTANA Group’s production sites fulfilled the ISO 14001 standard. In addition, the energy management systems of ten sites are certified in accordance with ISO 50001.
Progress in Climate Protection
During the period under review, numerous projects were carried out to reduce energy consumption and thus cut CO2 emissions. One focus this year was on the optimization of cooling systems, at the ACTEGA location in Grevenbroich, among others. The company thus achieved several improvements. Among other things, the products can be cooled to significantly lower temperatures, which means that less solvent evaporates. It also prevents gelling of some sensitive products. This allows the products to be manufactured more quickly.
ECKART commissioned a new chiller with a free cooling function at its Güntersthal site. This saves approximately 29 tons of CO2 per year. In addition, the division further optimized the cooling supply in some production sites. This led to a reduction of approximately 37 tons of CO2.
In other projects, energy efficiency was improved by replacing various plant components. For example, ELANTAS Europe was able to reduce CO2 emissions by a total of around 60 tons a year by installing highly efficient electric motors at all of its Italian sites. ECKART also installed electric motors with improved efficiency at its Güntersthal and Wackersdorf sites. As a result of this and the optimization of the processes, a total of approximately 75 tons of CO2 was saved.
To improve the heat supply, new boilers and ventilation components were installed at our U.S. locations in Painesville (ECKART) and St. Louis (ELANTAS), among others. ECKART replaced the entire heating and ventilation system in Schererville. ACTEGA installed new motors for indoor air in Grevenbroich. These measures also led to a reduction in CO2 emissions.
The optimization of the compressed air supply that was already initiated in previous years, for example by replacing compressors or reducing the pressure in the piping system, was continued in the year under review. These projects at the Bremen (ACTEGA), Schererville (ECKART), as well as the Cerquilho and St. Louis (both ELANTAS) sites resulted in total CO2 savings of 167 tons.
Responsible Usage of the Resource Water
Water plays an important role in many of the ALTANA Group’s production processes, and so the specialty chemicals group is making various efforts to use this resource sparingly. Water is used in the chemical industry as a raw material, as a cleaning agent, and as a coolant. ALTANA aims to keep its water consumption as low as possible and to use it as a cooling medium in closed loop systems. At ELANTAS’ site in Olean (New York), water management in production was optimized by installing new valves in the cooling water loop. As a result, some 6,800 m³ of water can be saved each year.
Another way of using the valuable resource water efficiently is to recycle it for other processes with the aid of so-called water ring pumps. ACTEGA in Foshan (used as cooling water; drinking water savings: 450 m³) and ECKART in Pori (used to produce deionized water; drinking water savings: 16,000 m³) deployed this procedure.
In the previous year, we already reported on a pilot project (“Zero Discharge”) at the ELANTAS site in Ankleshwar, India. In 2019, this project was advanced further. Through these and other measures, the amount of drinking water consumed could be reduced by approximately 5,000 m³.
Further Waste Management Improvement
Chemical processes generate waste and wastewater, which mainly affects production sites. ALTANA aims to avoid or reduce wastewater and waste and thus minimize the negative effects on people and the environment, among other things by using suitable raw materials and cleaning agents.
Through the use of an alternative solvent, for example, ECKART reduced hazardous waste at its Louisville site by 60 tons per year.
By optimizing individual manufacturing steps and cleaning processes, for example, the amount of waste at the Güntersthal (ECKART) and Cerquilho (ELANTAS) sites was reduced by more than 30 tons.
The ECKART site in Painesville also contributed to the reduction of waste volumes by means of several measures. The installation of new mixers led to an improvement in the manufacturing processes. In addition, operation of this equipment is more ergonomic and safer than before.
Emissions Further Reduced
In addition to the greenhouse gas CO2, which mainly arises during the combustion of fossil fuels, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) also contribute to emissions. ALTANA aims to continue keeping these emissions as low as possible in the future. To achieve this goal, various technical options are available at many sites. Further measures to reduce emissions were implemented in the year under review.
For example, the installation of new pumps with magnetic coupling at the ELANTAS site in Ascoli Piceno eliminated diffuse emission sources.
ACTEGA achieved a significant reduction of emissions in production by installing new sealing rings on mixing vessels at its Lincolnton site.