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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. ALTANA sets annual upper limits for energy consumption, water consumption, and waste quantities in relation to produced finished goods. The development of these indicators is published in the document “Facts and Figures on Sustainability 2022.”
In the 2022 fiscal year, the ALTANA Group’s energy consumption decreased to 680,948 megawatt hours compared to 743,304 megawatt hours in the previous year. This was due to the significant decrease in global economic output and the resulting demand, especially in the second half of the year. The volume of produced finished goods decreased from 612,089 tons (2021) to 566,929 tons (2022). Due to the effectiveness of the measures implemented to increase energy efficiency, specific energy consumption decreased from 1.21 MWh per ton of produced finished goods (2021) to 1.20 MWh per ton of produced finished goods (2022).
ALTANA already switched its global electricity procurement to renewable sources in 2020 via Guarantees of Origin. In the year under review, it again invested in offset projects. Here, attention is paid to the highest standards and to ensuring that the projects are in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In the reporting year, ALTANA offset 44.5 % of its Scope 1 emissions. Since 2020, we have also been publishing CO2 equivalents, which include other greenhouse gases in addition to carbon dioxide, such as nitrous oxide (N2O). The value for 2022 is 92,629 tons. Decreasing by around 10 % compared with the previous year, greenhouse gas emissions sank more strongly than the volume of produced finished goods. Of this amount, 51,900 tons of CO2 equivalents (of which 50,708 tons for Scope 1 and 1,192 tons for Scope 2 from the purchase of electricity, steam, district heating, and compressed air using the “market-based” method) are caused by unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions that were not offset by compensation. In addition, biogenic greenhouse gas emissions accounted for 428 tons of CO2 equivalents.
Analogous to the decline in the volume of produced finished goods described above, the volume of hazardous waste decreased from 21,634 tons in the previous year to 19,923 tons in the reporting period. Accordingly, the indicator related to the quantity of produced finished goods fell slightly from 35.3 kg/t to 35.1 kg/t. The amount of non-hazardous waste increased disproportionately by 4 % from 9,598 tons to 10,022 tons. The figure in relation to produced finished goods thus also increased, from 15.7 kg/t to 17.7 kg/t. The reasons for this slight increase in waste volumes include the increased disposal of obsolete residual stock at some sites (details can be found in the document “Facts and Figures on Sustainability 2022”).
Drinking water consumption sank from 1.36 million cubic meters in the previous year to 1.34 million cubic meters in the year under review. The resulting ratio based on the volume of produced finished goods rose to 2.36 m³/t (previous year: 2.22 m³/t). Among other things, this was due to the increased demand for cooling water as a result of the very hot and dry summer.
A total of 629,526 tons of raw materials were required. Of this amount, 399,908 tons were fossil raw materials, 33,222 tons were renewable raw materials, 145,775 tons were non-fossil and non-renewable raw materials, and 50,620 tons were water. Detailed information on ALTANA’s resource and energy consumption (differentiated by electricity, natural gas, and oil) as well as the environmental indicators can be found at www.altana.com/facts_figures_sustainability_2022.
In 2022, 90 % of the ALTANA Group’s production sites met the ISO 14001 environmental management standard. New sites are often not yet certified according to ISO 14001 and have three years to do so. However, these sites are already included in the total number of production sites. Eleven sites also have energy management certification in accordance with ISO 50001.
On Course for Climate Neutrality by 2025
ALTANA plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in production and energy procurement to zero worldwide by 2025. The climate neutrality encompasses the company’s own production, administration, and research. Included are greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels, primarily natural gas, as well as those resulting from chemical reactions in production processes (Scope 1) and indirect greenhouse gas emissions from energy consumption, mainly in the form of electricity (Scope 2). The climate neutrality to be achieved by 2025 also includes the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from necessary business trips, company cars, and goods transport (categories 4, 6, and 8 of Scope 3). This means that for the areas mentioned, greenhouse gas emissions into the environment will be avoided or compensated for through suitable measures. As a result, ALTANA is contributing to the climate target of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C that was set at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in 2015 and confirmed in Glasgow in 2021.
In the year under review, ALTANA consistently pursued its climate protection goals and continued to drive forward the energy transformation. All sites contributed to this. To avoid unnecessary energy consumption, facilities and machines were identified that can be temporarily switched off or run in a reduced operating state without impairing operational processes and safety. To this end, energy teams at the sites work together on an interdisciplinary basis and share their findings across divisions. This year, for example, the operation of ventilation and lighting systems at various sites was optimized. State-of-the-art energy monitoring and energy management systems help the energy teams identify unnecessary consumption. Optimized manufacturing processes can also contribute to energy efficiency. With the ALTANA Excellence Program, such adjustments are systematically developed and implemented.
The Group also made improvements in the area of heating / cooling systems and ventilation systems. At the Hartenstein site in Germany, for example, ECKART began to reduce the flow temperature and pump capacity at a system for heating with thermal oil, resulting in energy savings of around 460 MWh per year and thus greenhouse gas savings of around 120 tons of CO2 equivalents. ACTEGA replaced an electrically operated cooler with a cooling tower in the production of thermoplastic elastomers at its Foshan site in China, saving around 35 MWh per year. ELANTAS now generates the steam required for process heat at its site in Zhuhai (China) through waste heat and uses it to preheat raw materials, among other things. In total, this saves around 900 MWh or 300 tons of CO2 equivalents a year. At the Hamburg site, ELANTAS has optimized the operation of the thermal afterburning system by using waste heat to preheat exhaust air. As a result, energy consumption has been reduced by around 650 MWh per year. In addition, waste heat from compressors for compressed air is now used to heat the buildings. BYK is pursuing a similar approach at its site in Schkopau, where waste heat from thermal afterburning is used to heat hot water tanks, thus reducing electricity consumption by around 400 MWh per year. At its Louisville site in the United States, BYK uses the waste heat from compressed air generators to heat the buildings, saving around 80 MWh per year. In total, these measures in heating / cooling systems and ventilation systems save around 2,500 MWh a year.
Another important contribution is made by converting the existing lighting systems to more energy-efficient alternatives such as LEDs. To this end, projects were carried out at various sites of the four divisions. In addition, the divisions pay particular attention to energy efficiency when purchasing new machinery and equipment. For example, the switch to a compressor equipped with a frequency converter at ECKART’s Hartenstein site results in savings of 60 MWh. The frequency converter ensures that the unit output is adapted to the actual heat load and process requirements. Further optimization and modernization of compressed air generation at the German sites in Wackersdorf and Hartenstein will save around 320 MWh per year.
For the aftertreatment of emissions in production processes, plants for thermal oxidation using natural gas are operated at various sites. ACTEGA plans to switch to catalytic exhaust air purification at its Grevenbroich site, which will avoid around 500 tons of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions per year. At several sites, ELANTAS and BYK are also examining whether the existing thermal oxidizers can be replaced by alternative systems.
For ALTANA, substituting renewable energy sources for fossil sources is an important pillar on the way to climate neutrality in Scope 1 and Scope 2. The roadmap for energy transformation drawn up last year was further specified by the individual sites. The goal is to gradually phase out fossil fuels, even while production volumes grow. To this end, the individual consumption levels at the sites are being identified and the energy transformation is being driven forward by specific projects. In the case of combustion processes, the extent to which they can be replaced by electric processes or operated with alternative renewable fuels – for example, by using sustainably produced biogas and wood chips – is being evaluated. The stepwise replacement of diesel-powered vehicles such as forklifts with electric vehicles is also making a contribution to the energy transformation.
In cases where sites cannot currently purchase certified green electricity directly from the local electricity supplier, so-called certificates of origin for electricity from renewable sources are purchased in accordance with the recognized quality standards (for example CoO for Europe, IREC for China, and GREEN-E for the U.S.). In 2022, the amount was 249,883 MWh.
In parallel, ALTANA is working intensively on further possibilities, for example direct procurement from sustainable energy generation plants. In the year under review, for example, a further electricity supply contract was concluded for the direct purchase of green electricity from German wind and solar plants for the years 2024 to 2027. This will cover around 50 % of ALTANA’s electricity requirements in Germany. Some ALTANA sites already generate their own energy from renewable sources. ELANTAS operates its own photovoltaic systems in Ascoli, Collecchio, and in Pune, as does BYK in Deventer. In addition, ACTEGA installed its own photovoltaic system at its Spanish site in Vigo, generating around 140 MWh per year. And BYK commissioned a photovoltaic plant with around 2,000 m² at its site in Shanghai, China, enabling it to generate around 400 MWh of green electricity a year. ECKART in Hartenstein generates electricity from a hydroelectric generator, and BYK in Denekamp uses biogas to generate energy. In total, ALTANA already uses 1,464 MWh / year from its own photovoltaics. In addition, 2,177 MWh of fossil natural gas can be saved by purchasing biogas at the site in Denekamp.
In the year under review, ALTANA also compensated for 40,739 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the hitherto unavoidable use of natural gas and other fossil fuels (Scope 1) by financing equivalent climate protection projects in the regions where the greenhouse gas emissions occur.
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 water as a cooling medium in closed loop systems.
In the reporting year, we were able to significantly reduce water consumption at several sites, although the drought prevailing at many sites and the high air temperatures increased the demand for cooling water, in some cases considerably. At the Sedan site, ACTEGA replaced a cooling tower with a cooling system with an alternative design, which saves around 1,000 m³ of cooling water a year. Through optimization measures at the reverse osmosis plant at its site in Gonzalez (U.S.), BYK saves around 20,000 m³ of water. ECKART optimized washing processes in the production of synthetic mica at its Finnish site in Pori, thereby saving around 4,000 m³ of water.
Optimization of Waste Management
Chemical processes generate waste and wastewater, which mainly applies to 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.
ALTANA’s divisions were able to reduce waste volumes at numerous sites by means of recycling. For example, an ultrafiltration plant was installed at ACTEGA’s site in Lehrte, Germany, with which around 250 m³ of wastewater or process water can be treated and reused annually. ELANTAS operates its own wastewater treatment plant at its Ankleshwar site in India. An in-house laboratory has now been set up to determine the water values and optimize plant operation. BYK and ECKART optimized the filter systems at the sites in Denekamp in the Netherlands and Hartenstein in Germany, enabling more than 15 tons of waste to be avoided. Other measures at various sites of the four divisions include the switch from small containers to tanks and the optimization of manufacturing processes by means of the ALTANA Excellence Program.
Emissions Further Reduced
In addition to greenhouse gases, other emissions can also have a negative impact on the environment and people. In this context, particular mention should be made of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 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. ELANTAS built a room with an extraction unit at its Chinese site in Zhuhai in which solvent-containing samples can be produced and smaller filling operations carried out. At the site in Tongling (China), the production processes and the associated equipment were optimized or expanded so that approximately 2,600 tons of VOCs are removed. Multi-stage absorption units are used for this purpose, among other things. In general, equipment was modified at various sites of the divisions to enable filling and mixing processes to be carried out in closed systems. As an example, in Schererville (USA), ECKART replaced an open mixing vessel with a closed one.
In addition to reducing the quantities of VOCs, ALTANA also focuses on continuously improving noise emissions. At its British site in Widnes, for example, BYK completed an extensive program to reduce noise in catalyst production.