Limiting discharges to air and water and reducing waste
The Arkema group is pursuing a series of initiatives and effective measures to reduce its impacts in terms of climate change, air pollution and water pollution.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
A longstanding commitment delivers results
Curbing greenhouse gas emissions is a priority of the Arkema group. This approach can be illustrated by examples such as:
- installation of stack gas treatment equipment such as the thermal oxidizers at the Pierre-Bénite plant in France and the Changshu plant in China
- replacement of boilers by more powerful equipment allowing a gas consumption reduction
- replacement of air-conditioners and cold groups by more powerful models.
The Arkema group reduced its overall greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 47% from 2006 to 2012.
Tons of GHG emitted are expressed in tons of CO2 equivalent with an aim to convert the climatic effect of various greenhouse gases in a common unit.
The challenge of global warming
Greenhouse gas emissions abatement is crucial for our planet and for future generations. Greenhouse gases, including CO2, have long-term effects on the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, gradually leading to a rise in average global temperatures.
Energetic measures to eliminate the most harmful emissions
The Arkema group’s primary concern is to minimize its emissions of the most toxic compounds, namely:
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs),
- compounds that acidify the air (nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide),
For VOCs, the Group is controlling emissions:
- by capturing and treating off-gases that contain them (thermal oxidation or blowhole lavage being the most widely-used treatment techniques),
- by regular monitoring programs to detect and eliminate any fugitive VOC emissions.
The Group reduced its VOC emissions by about 20% between 2006 and 2012
(exclusing activities sold and bought in 2012)
Impact of air pollution on living species and the environment
Limiting pollutant emissions to the atmosphere has crucial implications for the future, given their consequences for living species and the environment.
Tropospheric ozone is a highly potent oxidizing agent and thus a major air pollutant above a significant concentration. In humans, it causes irritation to the eyes, mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract. And volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contribute to the presence of ozone in the atmosphere.
Emissions to water
No effluents discharged untreated
Diminishing its emissions to water also ranks high among the chief environmental objectives of the Arkema group. The group is especially attentive to effluents that could result in high chemical oxygen demand (COD) or contain high levels of suspended solids (SS).
What is chemical oxygen demand ?
Chemical oxygen demand, or COD, refers to the quantity of oxygen needed to break down the organic matter present in water. It is an indicator of the pollutant loading of wastewater.
The Arkema group reduces its COD and high-SS effluent discharge by:
- installing its production plants in industrial parks equipped with full-scale wastewater treatment plants,
- installing physical-chemical and/or biological treatment process units to treat effluents at its more isolated plants,
- optimizing the treatments wastewater plants or better controlling water sent in station.
From 2006 to 2012, the Arkema group reduced the Chemical Oxygen Demand of its effluent discharge by more than 10%.
The challenge of river biodiversity
A water course must contain dissolved oxygen in order for aquatic fauna to survive. This oxygen comes both from ambient air and from the photosynthesis performed by algae. In a river or stream with excessively high COD, the oxygen available is insufficient to support aquatic fauna.
Waste recovery programs
The final avenue of improvement in the Arkema group’s emissions reduction effort focuses on limiting its production of waste, by:
- an ongoing optimization of processes,
- research into new recovery value chains (e.g., using certain types of waste as a substitute fuel for boilers, replacing traditional fuels),
- in situ waste recovery by incineration with recovery of the heat generated by combustion.