Viscofan is global and operates in a world of increasing population and consumption, with a greater use of natural resources and growing social awareness to ensure their efficient use, balancing economic growth and environmental and social needs to embark a sustainable future. Viscofan acknowledges and undertakes to responsibly protect and preserve the environment and to efficiently use energy and resources.
This company’s commitment is based on human rights and on the following corporate principles:
● Maintain a preventive approach that favours the Environment (identification of environmental aspects).
● Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental awareness (mainly through training).
● Encourage the development and dissemination of Environment-friendly technologies (vaporisers, catalytic gas purification, etc.).
In this way, the EHS corporate policy, defining the values of the organisation and laying down as priorities:
● Identify and comply with applicable legislation and regulation in terms of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) in each of the locations where the Group does business, and any other voluntarilyacquired commitments of Viscofan to improve these areas.
● Pursue constant improvement in all areas of operation, especially in those related to environment, health and safety of employees.
● Responsibly use raw materials, energy and water.
● Ensure that management, employees and all staff working for the organisation, or on its behalf, are aware of this policy and are trained, according to their responsibilities, to comply with it.
● Set indicators to assess the evolution of our performance in these areas.
● Promote a culture of continuous improvement in EHS, defining objectives and implementing corporate standards.
● Develop a cooperation relationship with stakeholders, so as to enable open and objective dialogue, and help ease joint responsibility on these issues.
To ensure the application of the principles contained in the policy, EHS Management guidelines have been developed by the Viscofan Group, setting the common implementation bases for safety, occupational health and environment management systems. It covers a total of 15 guidelines, specifying requirements for many other areas such as regulatory compliance, risk identification and assessment, and environmental aspects or emergency preparedness. In 2017 we continued to implement the guidelines in the companies Vector USA and Vector Europe, acquired in October 2016, with the aim of completing implementation in 2018.
We also believe in the effectiveness of dialogue with our different stakeholders in order to get to know about their concerns and different improvement proposals in this matter.
The Viscofan Group wants to promote a productive model that supports long-term sustainability in the use of resources and that helps to prevent climate change. In this way, the importance attached by Viscofan to EHS is reflected by the inclusion of ISO 14.001 standard to all its manufacturing plants, within the proposed objectives for MORE TO BE 2016-2020. In 2017 the Group made progress in that direction and Viscofan’s plants of Czech Republic, Germany, China, Mexico, Serbia and Brazil certified their environmental management systems according to ISO 14.001 standards.
With these certifications the Viscofan Group substantially exceeds the target of certifying two management systems in at least half of the manufacturing plants (ISO 14.001 and OHSAS 18.001 in safety). Although, the target for 2018 is to continue with the certification process of those plants that haven’t yet obtained it.
The breakdown of the Group’s plants with ISO14.001 certificate is the following:
Viscofan participates in the United Nations Global Compact from 2015, clearly in line with its aim towards sustained growth, and with the Sustainable Development Objectives concerning the environment (climate change, conservation of marine resources, protection of ecosystems, sustainable water management).
The cost of items related to the Group’s environmental assets at 31 December 2017 was €47.8 million (2016: €34.8 million), highlighting the investment made in 2017 for the new plant in Cáseda (Spain) and an accumulated amortization of €28.4 million (2016: €21.8 million).
In 2017, the Group incurred in environmental protection and improvement costs amounting to €3.8 million. In 2016 this amount totalled €3.6 million.
The Group arranged civil liability insurance coverage for damages to third parties caused by accidental and unintentional contamination; the insurance coverage refers to any possible risk involved and to date no significant claims in environmental matters have been filed.
The Parent’s Directors do not deem it necessary to make any provisions to cover environmental contingencies and expenses.
The Viscofan Group’s basic tenets are two-fold, covering and guiding all of the company’s environmental projects:
● The sustainable use of resources
● Contribute to avoiding climate change
The Viscofan Group will approach its sustainability target as it strengthens its capabilities of more efficiently employing available resources, including yet not limited to raw materials, energy or water resources.
Viscofan’s manufacturing plants in 10 different countries, each one with its specific environmental legislation, present a particular challenge to establish uniform reporting criteria. New resources and tools were incorporated in 2016 to unify the reporting criteria throughout all Group manufacturing plants. New environmental management indicators were established for the MORE TO BE 2016-2020 strategic period, which, including water management, extend the raw materials-production-waste management cycle and establish direct and indirect CO2 emissions measurements
As we are working in an environment where there is a growing demand for industrial water, the optimisation of its use is one of the cornerstones sustaining Viscofan’s environmental policy. We have identified the key management indicators with a twofold purpose: optimise water consumption at the company subsidiaries whenever possible and improve the water purification process with a view to reducing the pollution load thereof.
In 2016 and 2017, continuing with the water management improvement processes that began in 2015, the Group took further steps regarding the knowledge and optimisation of supply sources at the different companies.
A baseline of 100 was set for the 2015 water usage intensity ratio (cubic metres per metre of production) to track the intensity of our water consumption in the following years, shown in the graph.
Moreover, the Viscofan Group continues working on water recycling projects at the manufacturing plants in Koteks (Serbia), Pando (Uruguay) and Suzhou (China), which we expect to result in additional improvements.
There was no record in 2017 of the organisation’s water capture significantly affecting any water sources. All captures are strictly regulated by the public sector, which assign permits and determine the maximum permitted capture volumes to preclude significant effects.
Additionally, Viscofan is aware that proper water management also includes correctly purifying its wastewater and minimising the impact of its activities on the environment. In 2017, purification technology was implemented in Suzhou (China) and further improvements were made in this regard in Cáseda (Spain) and Zacapu (Mexico).
Waste reduction and an improvement in waste recovery are further lynchpins of the EHS policy, prioritising management systems using less processing in this regard. The efficient use of raw materials is therefore essential and has a twofold positive effect benefiting Viscofan and the environment alike.
Reducing waste generation, optimising waste management and prioritising recovery or recycling above other systems such as destruction or disposal must also become cornerstones in EHS management in the coming years. In 2017, the percentage of recovered waste was 56% versus 60% in 2016.
In this regard, the Viscofan Group continues taking steps to improve waste management to increase recovery. The transfer of knowledge from some centres to others and the research into new uses or new processes for handling waste are the engagement plans that we carried out in 2017 and will continue into 2018.
The following breakdown is a detail regarding the management of waste and by-products by category, tonnes of waste and intensity ratio thereof:
Waste tonnage increased in 2017, primarily due to own inefficiencies in the commissioning processes of new facilities, capacity increases in different plants, and the inclusion of Vector companies in Europe and the USA acquired at the end of 2016 into the perimeter of consolidation.
The Viscofan Group has implemented an environmental management system with a view to preventing spills and leaks, in which it has established management mechanisms and technical control elements. Should they occur, this system has detection, reporting and anomaly correction methods, including ones for predictive purposes.
In 2017, Viscofan Group facilities had no significant spills/leaks, defined as spills/leaks that caused external facility damage that should be reported to the corresponding administration.
The Viscofan Group’s sustainability approach focuses on an efficient use of energy with low environmental impact. We strive to promote the rational and efficient use of energy throughout Viscofan’s value chain from our manufacturing plants to our suppliers. To do so, our strategy entails reducing greenhouse gas emissions while mitigating the adverse effects of these gases on our environment.
We believe that an efficient use of energy is key to reaching our goal to prevent climate change. Viscofan’s strategy for reducing overall CO2 emissions includes using heat, even in the effluents from our production processes, and replacing systems requiring elevated amounts of energy with more efficient systems. Reducing our energy requirements and harnessing the different forms of energy present in our processes to a maximum.
The Viscofan Group’s energy consumption in 2017 reduced by 5.0% versus 2016:
The Viscofan Group also established the energy intensity indicator for analysing the efficiency of harnessing the different forms of energy throughout the organisation. The calculation was made on baseline of 100 for 2016, dividing consumed energy in absolute terms by metres of production.
With energy efficiency in our sights, Viscofan continuously invests in adopting new and more efficient technologies in different process areas. One example thereof is the investment made in 2017 at the manufacturing plant in Cáseda (España), where an energy exploitation system was installed in the drying air. Another example was the new and more efficient energy model implemented in Zacapu (Mexico) for reducing gas consumption by 34% in volume and CO2 emissions by over 1,300 tonnes monthly.
The following data reflects the savings in tonnes of CO2 from the use of cogeneration at the plants in Cáseda (Spain) and Weinheim (Germany):
The efficient use of energy when manufacturing casings is a competitive advantage. In this regard, the Viscofan Group has achieved energy and production savings from its cogeneration plants in Cáseda (Spain) with an installed power capacity of 48 MW, in Zacapu (Mexico) with 0.6 MW, and Weinheim (Germany) with 8.7 MW.
This energy management model lets the Group produce over half of its total energy using ISO 50001 certified energy efficiency management systems. This energy efficiency management system prepares us for compliance with RD 56/2016 on energy efficiency, which concerns energy audits and transposes the European Union’s Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/ EU).
The use of cogeneration as energy and heat generation sources entails a reduction in emissions compared with other conventional steam generation systems. The avoided CO2 emissions in Cáseda for instance were greater than 30%.
The breakdown of direct and indirect CO2 emissions and their intensity is as follows:
Regarding the emissions of ozone depleting substances, NOx, SOx and other atmospheric pollutants, the corporate EHS department has begun a consolidated compilation of information thereon with a view to improving management in this regard in 2018.
Economic resources allocated to Environmental, Health and Safety projects
This growing commitment to sustainability is also apparent in the financial dimension, where the 2017 investments in EHS projects stood at €7.5 million, representing 7% of the Group’s total investments, with prominent amounts allocated for: optimising steam and energy generation facilities, wastewater purification, improving fire protection facilities, ergonomic improvements, restructuring water usage, new wastewater treatment facilities, equity security, etc.
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