Sustainability is the new industry ‘gold standard’
CRC takes off in the UK
IN THE UK, all public and private sector organisations that had at least one half-hourly electricity meter (a meter that records energy use every 30 minutes) during calendar year 2008 must register under the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme with the Environment Agency between April 1 and September 30, 2010. This will account for approximately 20,000 large organisations.
Around 5,000 of these organisations will also be Participants in the scheme. Participants are identified by their 2008 electricity consumption: If the organisation has a half-hourly electricity meter and consumed at least 6,000 Mega-Watt-hours of electricity through all of its meters during 2008 (equivalent to an electricity bill of around £500,000), then it will need to participate in the scheme by monitoring energy consumption and purchasing allowances.
However, if the organisation has a half-hourly electricity meter but consumed less than this amount of electricity, it will be an Information Declarer. These organisations must register for the scheme and make an information disclosure. They will not have to purchase allowances.
How the scheme works
The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme will be phased in over three years. Once fully operational, CRC Participants (about 5,000 organisations) will be required to monitor their emissions and purchase allowances for each tonne of CO2 they emit at the beginning of each reporting year. The first sale of allowances happens in April 2011, covering projected CO2 emissions April 2011 to April 2012. The Government will sell these allowances for £12 per tonne of CO2.
The scheme is revenue neutral overall, meaning all revenue raised from selling allowances is re-distributed back to Participants according to their position in the annual Performance League Table.
As a consequence, Participants successful in reducing energy consumption will not only save money on energy bills, but will need to purchase fewer allowances and will receive greater financial reward through revenue recycling. These savings should be well in excess of the costs of participating in the scheme.
Participants that perform well will also be placed higher in the Performance League Table, which will be published annually by the Environment Agency. Being higher up the league table will have the added benefit of enhancing the organisation’s reputation.
Participants will also need to consider the financial commitment their organisation will have to make in order to purchase allowances to emit carbon. During the CRC’s introductory phase (2011/2012), one allowance, which equals one tonne of CO2, will cost £12. However, after the three-year introductory phase, the total number of allowances will be capped, and these allowances will be auctioned, rather than sold at a fixed price. As a result, the cost of purchasing allowances will become higher making it financially more attractive for CRC Participants to reduce their CO2 emissions by introducing energy saving measures.
As a result, organisations should start looking for ways to reduce energy consumption now. For most organisations, the most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions are through simple steps, which improve energy efficiency in buildings. These are often inexpensive and will show instant results.
UK ENVIRONMENT AGENCY:
T: +44 (0) 20 7863 8610
The Corus carbon footprint
IN CASE you haven’t heard, our planet is getting warmer, says Steve Newell of Spooner Industries. At what rate it is occurring or how much human activity has to do with the increasing temperatures is a heated debate, pardon the pun. One thing we do know for sure is that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a contributing factor in global warming and humans are responsible for a large portion of these emissions. If you had asked someone five years ago what their carbon footprint was, most people would have likely responded by looking towards their feet, thinking they stepped in something. That same person would probably laugh uncontrollably if you had told them that Al Gore, former vice president of the United States and once presidential hopeful, would star in a 2006 movie that brought climate change to the forefront by drawing millions of viewers from all over the world.
Indeed, things are much different today than they were five years ago; individuals and businesses alike are trying to reduce their environmental impact and GHG (Green House Gas) emissions. What the average person does not realize is that they have two types of footprints, a primary and secondary. The primary footprint is a measure of our direct emissions of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels including domestic energy consumption and transportation, such as car and plane. The secondary footprint is a measure of indirect CO2 emissions from the whole lifecycle of products we use, those associated with their manufacturing and eventual breakdown. To put it simply – the more we buy, the more emissions will be caused on our behalf.
Thankfully companies like Corus, a subsidiary of Tata Steel, is doing its part to reduce the world’s secondary footprint by improving the energy efficiency of its manufacturing processes. Corus is Europe’s second largest steel producer and comprises three operating divisions: Strip Products, Long Products and Distribution & Building Systems. Corus Colors as part of the Strip Products Division is an international business manufacturing pre-finished steel for the building envelope, domestic appliances and manufactured goods markets.
Corus Colors, Shotton Works, located at Deeside, North Wales, produces organic paint coated pre finished steel principally for cladding, composite walling and roofing applications within the building and construction sector both in the UK and overseas.
There are two manufacturing processes at Shotton Works for coating steel strip with paint, they use a series of driven roller coaters and industrial curing ovens, controlled within a continuous process line capable of applying protective and decorative high quality finishes to the galvanized flat steel strip substrate. The No1 Colorcoat Line process is capable of coating strip widths up to 1400mm with a thickness up to 1.6mm giving a weekly throughput capability of up to 4000 tonnes subject to product type and dimensions.
This manufacturing process requires large amounts of natural gas to ensure proper application and fast curing time in the ovens, which, in turn generates a substantial amount of CO2 and NOX (Nitrous Oxides). In addition to these emissions, the solvent-based coatings release HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) during the drying process that need to be treated by an air pollution control device such as an oxidiser. New oxidiser technologies are capable of destroying over 99 percent of the HAPs and VOCs through the process of high temperature destruction with very little fuel consumption. However older oxidiser/incinerator technologies can be a source of CO2 and NOX as well as the requirement for high maintenance and large operating expenditures.
Pollution control initiatives are nothing new to Corus, the company has been monitoring and controlling its oven emissions at the Shotton Works, North Wales facility since the 1970s when it installed its first oxidiser/incinerator for abating exhaust gases/solvents from the paint coating processes. Even then, the company was thinking green by utilizing waste heat from these older oxidisers/incinerators to pre-heat the ovens and to supply its manufacturing facility with additional process steam. However, as environmental regulations tightened, energy prices increased and new technologies emerged, the company decided to re-evaluate its entire system as part of its manufacturing efficiency improvements as well as the wider Corporate Responsibility Program for energy usage reduction. The objective was to reduce the gas consumption by at least 45 percent and increase processing speeds on certain products, but it quickly realised another benefit to its sustainable energy plans, a much smaller carbon footprint.
Looking for a sustainable energy solution, it turned to Spooner Industries in the United Kingdom who have worked closely with Corus on a number of projects over the past 30 years. Oven technology and safety regulations had changed dramatically since the line was first installed, but Spooner was able to successfully complete several upgrades that brought the system up to current standards and increase its’ flexibility.
Each zone was retrofitted with a special low NOX burner to reduce emissions.
Variable frequency drives or inverters on every oven fan were incorporated into the control system to make each section more efficient and reduce electrical consumption.
The ductwork was changed to bring hot air into the system quickly, reducing maintenance issues. New thermocouples (temperature measurement), pressure transmitters, pressure switches and flow measurement systems were installed in the ovens to bring the equipment up to today’s technology standards, allowing for remote monitoring and fine-tuning.
A new computer controlled system was integrated with the SCADA (System Control and Data Acquisition) program. The proper PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) allows the central Corus system to communicate with the ovens so they can be setup for different production runs, eliminating errors and decreasing setup time.
The oven alterations brought this production line from the least efficient in the Corus group to the most, meeting one of the two objectives for the company. While some of these improvements reduced the company’s environmental footprint and gas consumption, the increased throughput would further complicate its environmental responsibilities.
Two existing, inefficient oxidisers for the prime and finish ovens were being used to control VOC and HAP emissions at the North Wales facility. To achieve proper destruction the systems required large amounts of natural gas that affected operating expenses and contributed to CO2 and NOX emissions. Furthermore breakdowns and maintenance problems were not only costing the company money to repair but also revenue in lost production. Because the oven and oxidiser are so vital to each other, Corus wanted a solution provider with experience and knowledge on both. In addition, they were looking for a system with low operating costs and heat recovery capabilities that could achieve 99.5 percent DRE (Destruction Removal Efficiency) which was well above their permit requirements.
Spooner, having recently partnered with Anguil Environmental Systems in The United States to fabricate and install its oxidiser designs on applications throughout Europe, was confident that it could be done. After consulting with the engineers at both Spooner Industries and Anguil Environmental Systems, Corus made the decision to replace its multiple air pollution control systems with one, RTO (Regenerative Thermal Oxidiser) from Spooner Anguil. It would give it the desired efficiency and single-source solution they it was for. The system has the following features and benefits:
The oxidiser is a 3-chamber design that processes 83,000 NM3/hr (55,000 SCFM) of air, achieving 99 percent + DRE without visible emissions and 85 percent + heat recovery for energy-efficient operation. The RTO self-sustains at low solvent-loading conditions, meaning that once the oxidiser is at operating temperature and receiving process airflow it requires no additional fuel for emission destruction, releasing very little CO2 and NOX.
A secondary heat exchanger sends waste heat directly back to the ovens, reducing the amount of natural gas required for product curing. Stainless-steel components throughout the system prevent corrosion and allow for high temperature process streams.
A hot-gas bypass on the RTO is used during high loading situations to avoid over heating the oxidiser. An intelligent bake-out feature cleans the RTO of condensable organics without internal fires or safety concerns.
The control panel has a large operator screen with a built-in maintenance manual and troubleshooting guide which makes for ease of use.
Corus has made a significant investment for the new equipment, upgrades and implementation of this energy reduction project. It has dropped its cost per ton of steel produced considerably and they estimate the payback will be less than one year.
The reduction in carbon emissions and energy consumption from this facility is dramatic a reduction of over 60 percent in gas usage, an average reduction of 522 m³/hr (or 5742 kW) per hour – saving over £1million a year. At 181 grams of CO2 produced per KWH used, Corus is preventing one tonne of carbon from reaching our atmosphere each hour, nearly 8,000 tonnes per year.
With innovation and continuous improvement at the heart of its business, the company is already planning for similar modifications at other Corus plants.
A spokesperson from Corus commented: “We are committed to minimizing the environmental impact of our operations and our products through the adoption of sustainable practices and continuous improvement in environmental performance.”
T: +44 (0) 1943 609505
Not just packaging
SUPERFOS OF Denmark believes that many consumers consider it an environmentally friendly behaviour to avoid food products in packaging. It is worried about the packaging’s impact on our climate. But in fact, packaging only plays a minor role in the big CO2 picture.
Would you prefer a pot of prawns in a packaging with a lesser carbon footprint to a pot of prawns with an average emission of CO2 says the company’s Annette Gottsche.
If so, you belong to the majority of the consumers. According to a recent survey from AC Nielsen, 75 per cent would choose a product over another if it shows a clear reduction in packaging.
However, there seems to be a misplaced emphasis on packaging, as massive CO2 emissions derive from other parts in a product’s lifecycle. Packaging is just a fraction of the total carbon footprint. Talking about the pot of prawns, there’s the prawn fishing, filling and distribution of products, the point of sales, the consumer’s drive to and from the supermarket and the cooking, just to mention a few. It all contributes to a whole lifecycle carbon footprint. The plastic packaging is indeed a one in a crowd.
Private driving beats packaging
Several players have an influence on the carbon footprint of a product. The most important player, however, is probably the end-user. All indications suggest that the drive by car from home to the supermarket and back has a far more heavy impact on a product’s carbon footprint than the production of the packaging.
Save cheese packaging or cheese
Another important issue is food waste which is a growing problem. We eat a lot in industrialised countries, but there’s also a lot that we don’t eat. Consumers throw away tons of food every year and may not have in mind that food waste produces three times more carbon than packaging. This is an indisputable burden to our climate. Actually, packaging contributes to reduced food waste. If it wasn’t for packaging, we would have to throw away even more food as the shelf life is much longer when the product is properly packed, at the food store and at home, she says.
The CO2 Calculator
We all have to take responsibility and try to contribute to the fight against climate change; this goes for consumers and businesses alike. Superfos is accepting the challenge: Being Europe’s largest manufacturer of injection moulded plastic packaging the company has developed a CO2 calculator to work out the amount of CO2 emissions of each packaging solution. Communication manager Annette Gottsche says about this new tool:
“The CO2 calculator helps us to meet the increasing demands for sustainable behaviour in the entire manufacturing supply chain. The goal is to reach lower CO2 emissions through green innovations. Though our packaging accounts for only a minor percentage of an average product’s total CO2 emission, there is still room for improvement and we are constantly working on them. Precise calculations give us a head start for working on our own emissions and assisting our customers in making the right sustainable decisions.” She continues: “Our CO2 calculator covers the processes influenced by us, from raw material extraction to our factory gate. All processes are mapped and the users can enter details on choice of raw material, location of production and logistics. It has cross boarder functionality, because the calculation methods take into account that different countries have different regulations and systems for energy and waste management.”
No common standard
In 2009, the CO2 calculator was adjusted to fit the standard PAS2050 and is now certified by Carbon Trust. The standard is a specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services.
”We lean on this independent organisation which was set up by the British government to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy now and develop commercial low carbon technologies for the future. We encourage all our valued competitors in the packaging industry as well as our customers to follow the calculation methods set up by Carbon Trust. This would make the calculation results more comparable,” says Annette Gottsche.
It all adds up
Superfos is committed to reduce CO2, even if packaging is only a part of the big picture. Annette Gottsche gives an example: “The use of virgin plastic is environmentally expensive according to our calculations, so we are focusing on various ways to reduce the need for virgin material. One calculation showed that if other materials (for instance natural fillers) replace 10 per cent of the virgin Polypropylene in a certain packaging, about 7 grams of CO2 would be saved on each container. This may not sound impressive on its own; but added up to a million containers it equals 7 tons saved CO2 or the CO2 emission from an average car driving all the way around the world – more than two times.
“Alleviating the carbon footprint of a packaging unit by a few grams does have a huge impact on the carbon footprint because our customers use our packaging solutions in multitudes,” she points out.
“We do it the sustainable way and take our corporate responsibility in this area very seriously. What you do not measure, you cannot control. Superfos is working on reducing its own CO2 emissions and on improving its own business. We want to do our share – even though plastic packaging is far from playing a key role in a product’s life cycle CO2 emissions. Market trends are clear and Superfos is responding with sustainable solutions,” Annette Gottsche concludes.
SINCE THE start of 2010 the production facilities of packaging film manufacturer alesco at its main Langerwehe, Germany, site have been running exclusively on green electricity from hydro-electric sources. All the company’s consumer films are thus now produced using green electricity – making them even more environmentally friendly.
Alesco’s administrative unit has also been using this innovative and ecological source of energy since the beginning of the year. The company has been extruding, tailoring and printing its biofilms exclusively with green electricity since 2008.
With the switch to green electricity, the processor of plastics continues to put its green philosophy into practice and aims to demonstrate that medium-sized manufacturing companies can operate successfully and profitably with an environmentally-friendly strategy. “In this respect we want to deliberately support pioneering technologies that focus on the issue of sustainability,” comments alesco green packaging managing director Philipp Depiereux. And this is why alesco’s development department is continually working on optimising all the company’s plastic products.
Relieving the environmental load
The switch to green, hydro-electric power has led to an improvement in the company’s overall CO2 balance. “By utilising green energy, the CO2 emissions caused by our use of electricity at the Langerwehe plant will fall by more than 90 percent,” comments Depiereux. In other words, the company will release 10.5 million kilograms less CO2 every year. In terms of overall emissions resulting from the company’s activities in Langerwehe, this equates to a reduction of more than 17 percent, and the corresponding figure for the entire company is ten percent.
The reason for the emissions not being reduced to zero by the use of hydro-electric power (which involves no CO2 emissions in its production) is that there are still some indirect emissions included in the equation. “These relate, for example, to the construction of the power station, as well as to maintenance work and the transportation of electricity to alesco,” explains Katharina Völker-Lehmkuhl, head of the Scientific Department of ClimatePartner Germany. This corporate consultancy independently calculates CO2 emissions for alesco. “Just ignoring such values would not give a credible and serious calculation,” adds Völker-Lehmkuhl.
The energy supplier Naturenergie AG is pleased to have alesco as a new customer, especially as environmentally-friendly green electricity fits so well with the company’s philosophy. Achim Geigle, managing director of the energy supplier, comments: “green electricity is an excellent choice for any company wishing to act in a sustainable way and, in cases such as this, where the use of green electricity from hydro-electric power fits so well with the overall corporate philosophy, the positive effects are multiplied.”
T: +49 (0) 24 21.223.447-2
UPM HAS been awarded the “Sustainable Innovation Management” prize at the “Best Innovator 2010” awards in Germany. The annual competition, organised by the international management consultancy A.T. Kearney together with the German top weekly business publication WirtschaftsWoche, awards companies that excel in outstanding innovation management ording to the jury of the competition, one of UPM’s strengths is the company’s readiness for innovative thinking and continuous change. The jury consisted of representatives from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, a non-profit organisation supporting R&D in diverse industries, A.T. Kearney and WirtschaftsWoche.
“One of our main innovation drivers is Total Lifecycle Approach from sourcing the raw material to their primary use and recycled applications. With UPM ProFi, we successfully turned residues of labelstock production, which previously was burnt or disposed in landfills, into a versatile new raw material,” says UPM Executive Vice President Hartmut Wurster. In the sustainable product innovation category, UPM convinced the jury with its outdoor flooring material UPM ProFi Deck, which presents an environmentally friendly alternative for decks, terraces and boardwalks. “UPM ProFi is a truly innovative material, which is suitable for several end-use applications and is attractive in terms of both performance properties and visual appearance,” says Markku Koivisto, director,UPM ProFi Business Area.
Designers have already found UPM ProFi, for example, the German artist Tobias Rehberger used UPM ProFi Deck as the terrace flooring material for the design that won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2009. This year, visitors of the World Expo in Shanghai will be able to see the Finnish Pavilion clad in UPM ProFi.
“Only companies that approach innovation systematically, and include not just the R&D and production units but also the marketing and market research, can realise continuous extraordinary success. Hence, a central criterion in assessing the 100 participating companies has been to what extent their innovation strategy was co-developed and implemented by the top management,” says Kai Engel, partner at AT Kearney and member of the jury.
UPM KYMENNE (UK):
T: +44 0)870 6000 876
ANOTHER COMPANY that designs, manufactures and supplies ready-to-use air cleaning plants for pollutant gas emissions from all industrial processes is airprotech of Italy.
It claims to be a customer oriented company and offers an after sales service in order to cement long term relationships. Airprotech can supply oxidisers and incinerators, rotor concentrator systems, VOC adsorption and recovery on activated carbons, VIC/VOC absorption, dry and wet dust exhaust systems, bio filtration plants and cryogenic condensation solutions.
T: +39 02 9790466