Our SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality) guidelines form an integrated standard reflecting Messer’s commitment to environmental protection. In addition, Messer adheres to a set of general environmental guidelines.
- determines the material impact of its business activity on the environment and sets itself substantive goals for the continual improvement of its environmental compatibility
- reduces the undesirable impact of its products and services on the environment
- reduces waste generation and supports pollution prevention programmes
- provides operating principles, processes, procedures and resources for the implementation of its environmental guidelines, taking into consideration the best available technology
- raises awareness among its employees worldwide of the importance to act in an environmentally friendly way, both at work and at home
- complies with or exceeds the requirements of existing environmental legislation
- carries out environmental impact assessments before building new facilities or modifying existing ones
- communicates openly and honestly with all stakeholders and neighbours
- minimises specific energy consumption and, wherever possible, reuses materials in an economically viable way
The Messer Group develops and builds its own air separation units. Energy efficiency is a key aspect in terms of their design, as is cost-effective procurement of energy in terms of operating the production facilities.
Messer’s objective is to reduce the specific energy consumption of our air separation units by 0.5 % a year from 2010 to 2020. We aim to achieve this through better capacity utilisation of our production facilities, continuous investment in even more efficient facilities and targeted energy efficiency projects. Within the Messer organisation, energy management is the responsibility of the Global Energy Officer (GEO), a position created in 2014. Specific energy consumption was reduced significantly again in 2018, resulting in a saving of 2.8 per cent compared with 2017. This was due to greater capacity utilisation of existing air separation units (“ASU”) as well as the elimination of an inefficient ASU in Peru. If the eliminated ASU in Peru is removed from the previous year’s figures, the result is a comparable efficiency increase of 1.2 per cent.
Optimising electricity procurement includes Europe-wide calls for tenders, long-term general agreements and continuous monitoring of the futures and spot markets. A central electricity procurement unit at Messer Group GmbH supports and advises our national subsidiaries on buying electricity and carries out regular checks of their electricity costs as part of a comparative analysis. The use of renewable energy is also checked on a regular basis.
Air separation units process ambient air without producing any toxic or environmentally harmful emissions. Even in the event of a shut-down or fault, only air components are emitted. Our products are gases which are delivered either via pipeline, by tankers to fill customer tanks or in steel cylinders in compressed form. Only cylinder gases are packaged products. Steel cylinders are usually rented out to customers and returned empty after use. They are therefore 100 per cent reusable after the requisite cleaning and inspection; as a rule, they are used over a period of at least 20 years.
Our total greenhouse gas emissions are shown as CO2 equivalents (CO2e). Conversion of the quantity of emissions for 2018 has been done per production facility for the first time. The greenhouse gas equivalents have been determined for all European production facilities using the local energy providers’ conversion factors on the basis of the year 2017. The International Energy Agency’s conversion factors from 2016 were used only for China, Vietnam and the Czech Republic. Our calculation of greenhouse gases is broken down into direct emissions (Scope 1) and indirect emissions (Scope 2 and Scope 3), in accordance with the GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Protocol. Scope 1 includes all direct CO2 emissions from our production facilities.
Despite efficiency gains, CO2 emissions are increasing in absolute terms as the number of new production facilities grows and capacity utilisation rises. The reduction in specific electrical energy consumption as the biggest factor influencing Messer’s CO2 equivalent can be demonstrated using the energy coefficient. Indirect CO2 emissions represent the generation of purchased electricity (Scope 2).
A total of 5,134 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity was used to operate our production facilities. In 2017, the figure was 4,865 GWh. While the disposal of business activities in Peru resulted in a decrease of 86 GWh for ASU operation there, electricity consumption in China increased by 269 GWh. The strong demand for air gases in Vietnam led to electricity consumption there also increasing by 10 GWh. In Europe the total increase came to 77 GWh, particularly in connection with the operation of our facilities in Germany (plus 14 GWh), Serbia (plus 19 GWh) and Hungary (plus 16 GWh). Compared with the previous year, this resulted in greenhouse gases increasing by 177,553 tonnes.
At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions were reduced through the use of green energy in Austria and Switzerland and by updating the greenhouse gas equivalents. The total reduction amounted to 311,906 tonnes. Scope 2 greenhouse gases totalled 3,016,663 tonnes in 2018 compared to 3,151,015 tonnes in 2017.
Indirect emissions that come under Scope 3 include all Group-wide emissions that are not covered by Scope 1 or Scope 2. This includes, for example, the electricity needed for administration buildings or used in connection with travel undertaken by employees. In the Group headquarters and at the subsidiaries in Belgium, the Czech Republic and Hungary, the distance travelled by employees from their place of residence to their place of work and the mode of transport used was ascertained for the first time for the year 2018. The greenhouse gas figures arrived at for the commute yielded a Group-wide average of 1.6 tonnes per employee. Scope 3 greenhouse gases produced as a result of sourcing industrial gases externally amounted to 176,593 tonnes in 2018. The total CO2 equivalence value for 2018 was calculated at 199,493 tonnes.
Total CO2e emissions increased slightly to 3,375,723 tonnes (previous year: 3,361,213 tonnes). The CO2e coefficient per euro of revenue was reduced significantly and stood at 250 kilograms of CO2e in 2018. On the one hand, Messer Group achieved a marked increase in revenue, on the other, greenhouse gases were significantly reduced by the modified conversion factors per production facility.
Diesel consumption by our bulk and cylinder fleet stood at 30.2 million litres in 2018. In 2017, the figure was 29.6 million litres. In 2018, our fleet travelled 97.2 million kilometres in total, compared to 95.7 million kilometres in 2017. The marked increase in kilometres travelled is due to the strong demand for liquid gases in China, Vietnam and Poland. Average diesel consumption went up slightly from 0.309 litres per kilometre in 2017 to 0.310 litres per kilometre in 2018, an increase of 0.3 per cent.
Messer operates nitrous oxide (N2O) production facilities in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Serbia and China. This gas is used in medicine and in the electronics and food industries. In Switzerland and China, Messer operates a total of six hydrogen plants. In its gaseous state, hydrogen can be used in many industry segments, including as a food additive, in heat treatment processes, as an energy source or even as a fuel.
The total CO2 equivalent for our fleet’s fuel consumption and for emissions of N2O and hydrogen (Scope 1) is 159,567 tonnes of CO2e. In 2017, we emitted 141,839 tonnes of CO2e.
In 2018, our air separation units consumed a total of 9.3 million cubic metres of water, with most of it being used for cooling the compressors in the air separation units. Compared with the previous year, this is an increase of 1.3 million cubic metres, brought about mainly by the commissioning of new plants.
The main production processes used at Messer – air separation, CO2 purification and liquefaction – require no direct addition of water during the process, for example as a solvent. Accordingly, no requirement for process water exists.
A large amount of heat is generated during these processes, however, essentially as a result of compression of the media. This heat is usually shunted away by means of a cooling water system.
Most units make use of an open cooling circuit. Here, cooling water is circulated, absorbing the heat from the respective sources and returning it to the atmosphere in an open cooling tower. A characteristic of the open cooling tower is that a portion of the circulating water evaporates and a further portion is removed in order to prevent thickening of insoluble components, the sludge. The sum of evaporation losses and the amount of sludge must be reintroduced to the system as fresh water. This added water is the only direct water consumption in the production processes. The amount of additional water is directly dependent on the power consumption of the unit it serves and stands at around two to three cubic metres per hour per megawatt of electrical output.
The total amount of non-toxic waste was 24,707 tonnes in 2018. The total amount of hazardous waste was 496 tonnes.
Reducing greenhouse gases through efficient use of industrial gases
Our gases also help to make our customers’ products and processes more environmentally friendly. In 2018, we carried out 242 new installations of tank systems for our customers, providing them with a supply of our gases for environmentally friendly processes. In the previous year, the number of tank installations was 253. But the sustainability of processes is also being boosted with the help of our pipeline and cylinder gases.
The use of industrial gases helps our customers to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions. For example, thanks to the recovery of gaseous or vaporous pollutants with our DuoCondex process, approximately 1,000 tonnes fewer substances that are harmful to the ozone layer are released into the atmosphere. The use of industrial gases also reduces our customers’ greenhouse gas emissions in other areas of application technology. In 2019, the Messer Group will ascertain this reduction potential for all environmentally relevant processes. We assume that the potential for reducing greenhouse gases at our customers’ sites will be significantly greater than the amount of greenhouse gases produced in connection with the manufacture of our industrial gases
Many industrial processes produce gaseous or vaporous pollutants. They can be condensed – and thus liquefied and captured – by means of cooling with cryogenic liquefied nitrogen. This prevents them from getting into the atmosphere. Messer has developed the DuoCondex process for this purpose, which makes such condensation possible at temperatures as low as minus 160 °C. In most cases, the recovery rate is over 99.9 per cent. Ideally, the condensate that is produced can be reused in production. Some of the recovered substances are also processed, used as fuel or eliminated in a controlled way.
Among other things, this technology is used in the recycling of more than a million refrigerators a year. In this process, the propellants (CFCs) bound in the insulating foam of the appliances are released, then liquefied in the DuoCondex units and rendered harmless.
The DuoCondex process is also used by companies in the chemical industry. It helps them comply with emission limits while at the same time saving costs by reusing the condensed substances. The main beneficiary is the environment: in 2018 alone, a greenhouse gas reduction of 500,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent was made possible by the successful use of the DuoCondex process.
Germany: Energy balance improved by EcoVap
Messer won the tender to supply nitrogen to special printing specialist Constantia Flexibles in competition with the previous supplier. The factors that swung the customer’s decision in Messer’s favour included the provision of expert advice as well as an energy-saving gas supply concept. The liquid nitrogen is vaporised with the EcoVap process. This involves the nitrogen’s inherent cold being fed into the existing cooling system; as a result the refrigerating machine’s electricity consumption is reduced. This improves the company’s energy balance and reduces CO2 emissions. The nitrogen is used to inert the drying process in UV-cured printing machines. It displaces the atmospheric oxygen that would disrupt the curing of synthetic paints by polymerisation. Constantia Flexibles is the world’s fourth-largest manufacturer of flexible packaging solutions for the food and pharmaceutical sectors.
Switzerland: Dry ice for clean recycling
End-of-life steel elements from the structural and civil engineering sectors are a valuable raw material. Before the material can be melted down for recycling, any surface impurities such as paints or lacquers must be removed. PSB Umweltservice, a company based in the town of Stockach, carries out this kind of cleaning work in a controlled atmosphere using dry ice blasting machines from ASCO. This ensures an efficient and environmentally friendly process. No additional detergents are required, and there are no chemicals or contaminated wastewater to dispose of.
Hungary: E-bikes on the move thanks to Hungarian experts
E-bikes are clearly a big thing at the moment. From electric leisure bikes to sporty e-mountain bikes to useful cargo bikes, there are now models available for every need. For the city of the future, they also offer an environmentally friendly alternative for daily commutes, local journeys or parcel services. One of Bosch’s Hungarian plants, in Miskolc, makes electric drives for such bikes and exports them to 70 different bicycle manufacturers around the world. When soldering the components for the latest generation of e-drives, nitrogen provides the necessary inert atmosphere.
Vietnam: World Environment Day
On 26 May 2018, Messer Haiphong celebrated “World Environment Day” together with Hiep-Son Primary School. Over 700 pupils and teachers took part in the event, which had “Tackling plastic waste together” as its motto. In addition to exciting performances, the students took part in waste sorting games as well as poster campaigns and presentations on the subject of environmental protection. The aim was to raise awareness of environmental issues and foster a shared commitment to environmental protection.
Some 1,000,000 kilogram of waste flows into the seas via the Rhine every year. The river is 1,232.7 kilometres long and flows from Switzerland through Germany and the Netherlands before emptying into the North Sea. This year’s RhineCleanUp Day on 15 September 2018 saw Messer colleagues and 150 Krefeld citizens join forces to clean up the banks of the Rhine. Messer was the initiator of the RhineCleanUp Day in Krefeld; altogether, over 10,000 people in 59 towns across the three countries took advantage of the river’s low water level in late summer to clean up its banks.
Earth Hour 2018: Messer turns off the lights for the environment
On 24 March 2018, Messer turned off the lights for an hour at 8:30 p.m. at all its sites in Germany – Bad Soden, Krefeld, Salzgitter and Siegen. With this measure Messer participated in Earth Hour 2018.
Earth Hour is a global movement for climate and environmental protection. It was started in Australia in 2007. Since then, private premises, public buildings and even landmarks have been switching off their lights for an hour each year. The aim of Earth Hour is to raise public awareness about climate protection.