Borealis produces emissions resulting from production processes as well as emissions from combustion for energy generation. The major emissions to air generated by Borealis are CO2 from fuel combustion to produce heat, from reactors, cracker furnaces, ammonia production plants, and from flaring that occurs in polyolefins plants and crackers; N2O from nitric acid production plants, NOx as well as fugitive emissions of hydrocarbons (volatile organic compounds [VOC]) and dust emissions from handling of solid material in fertilizer plants.
Emission management is an integral part of the Borealis HSE management system, which complies with the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard. This means that emissions are identified, risks assessed and monitored. Control measures are evaluated and implemented in relation to the significance of the emission and according to ISO 14001 standards, as well as to regulatory requirements.
Borealis continuously strives to minimise its carbon footprint. The company is part of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and thus commits to the EU target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, a very demanding target for a growing company. As Borealis' energy consumption accounts for about 70% of its greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency is the most effective way to reduce the company's direct carbon footprint.
As part of Borealis' overall drive to improve energy efficiency, the Schwechat flare gas recovery project is an example of how Borealis intends to be part of the solution to major environmental challenges like mitigating CO2 emissions, and to operate in a responsible and sustainable way. To this end, we have developed an energy efficiency improvement roadmap. We have now identified key efficiency drivers for each unit and are in the process of optimising plants to achieve better energy efficiency.
Although energy intensive in its production process, plastics make a key contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases emission along their life cycle. In fact, plastics prevent 5-9 times more CO2 during their use phase than emitted for their production. If plastics in packaging were replaced by traditional materials, CO2 emissions would increase by seven times, further contributing to the greenhouse effect. One kilogramme of polypropylene (PP) used in an automotive application such as a bumper can prevent more than eight kilogrammes of carbon emissions over the life of the vehicle. Furthermore, without lightweight plastics packaging, retailer fleets would have to make 50% more journeys leading to higher fuel consumption and emissions. (Source: PlasticsEurope).
Hydrocarbon streams diluted by nitrogen are treated in a membrane separation unit recently installed at the Borealis PP plants in Schwechat, Austria. Instead of being flared, the hydrocarbons are now recovered and reused in the production process. This is also true for the majority of nitrogen. The result is an approximate two-thirds reduction of total flaring at the Schwechat location compared to 2012. In addition to the improved raw material and energy efficiency, the additional positive side-effects are reduced emissions of CO2, NOx and VOC.
Sustainability plays an increasingly significant role in automotive manufacturing, particularly in developed markets such as Europe. Key drivers of sustainability in the automotive industry are lightweight solutions. Replacing metal parts with energy efficient and lighter weight plastics leads to improved fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. Pioneering Borealis innovations in the area of natural fibre modified PP as well as Borealis and Borouge Fibremod™ and Daplen™ PP compounds, among others, are helping make vehicles lighter.