Environmental and Climate Protection

Environmental Guidelines

As an integrated policy, our SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality) guidelines reflect the Messer Group’s commitment to environmental protection. In addition, Messer adheres to a set of general environmental guidelines.

The Messer Group will

  • determine the material impact of its business activity on the environment and set itself targets for the continual improvement of its environmental compatibility
  • reduce the environmental impact of its products and services
  • endeavour to prevent pollution of the environment
  • reduce waste generation and support programmes aimed at the prevention of pollution
  • provide operating principles, processes, procedures and resources for the implementation of its environmental guidelines, taking into consideration the best available technology
  • encourage its staff to act in an environmentally friendly way, both at work and at home
  • promote continuous improvement in waste minimisation
  • comply with or exceed the requirements of existing environmental legislation
  • carry out environmental impact assessments before building new facilities or modifying existing ones
  • strive for open and honest communication with all stakeholders and neighbours
  • minimise energy consumption and, wherever possible, reuse materials in an economically viable way

Environmental Protection through Energy Management

The Messer Group’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, responsibility for energy management rests with the Global Energy Officer (GEO), a position created in 2014.

Year-over-year, we have reduced the specific energy consumption by 1.7% and are thus clearly ahead of our target.

The Messer Group develops and builds its own air separation units. Energy efficiency is a key aspect in their design. Efficient energy use and cost-effective procurement of energy are also of major importance to the Messer Group. 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 supports and advises Messer’s national subsidiaries on buying electricity and carries out regular checks of their electricity costs as part of a benchmarking exercise. The use of renewable energy is also checked on a regular basis.

Greenhouse gas emissions

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 by pipeline, via tankers to fill customer tanks or in cylinders. Only cylinder gases are packaged products. Steel cylinders are usually rented out to customers and returned empty after use. They are therefore 100% reusable after the requisite cleaning and inspection.
Our total greenhouse gas emissions are shown as CO2 equivalents (CO2e). The quantity of emissions is converted into greenhouse gas equivalents using the International Energy Agency’s conversion factors. 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. 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 4,864.6 GWh of electricity was used to operate our production facilities and filling plants. In 2016, the figure was 4,432.7 GWh. This is a significant increase, due on the one hand to commissioning of the SKS Hunan air separation unit (plus 81 GWh) and the significantly higher consumption by the other units in China of 288 GWh. In South-Eastern Europe, the increase was 64 GWh, and in Western Europe 3 GWh. Our electricity consumption, and therefore the absolute value of the CO2e, increases with each new production facility and with greater capacity utilisation of existing facilities. The CO2e for 2016 was 2,817,754 tonnes, compared with 3,151,015 tonnes in 2017 (Scope 2). The energy coefficient fell significantly from 1.368 in 2016 to 1.345 in 2017. This owed to capacity utilisation of the production facilities in China and to increased customer consumption in Europe.

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. Here the CO2 equivalent for 2017 was 68,359 tonnes compared with 64,772 tonnes in 2016.

All in all, emissions of CO2e increased to 3,361,213 tonnes. The CO2e coefficient per euro of revenue stood at 2,729 kg in 2017.

Fuel consumption and other emissions

Diesel consumption by our bulk and cylinder fleet stood at around 29.6 million litres in 2017. In 2016, the figure was 28.7 litres. In 2017, our fleet travelled 95.7 million kilometres in total, compared to 90.8 million kilometres in 2016. Thus, the average consumption of diesel decreased by 2.2% and went from 0.316 litres per kilometre to 0.309 litres per kilometre.

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.

The total CO2 equivalent for our fleet’s fuel consumption and for emissions of N2O and hydrogen is 141,839 tonnes of CO2e (Scope 1). In 2016, these emissions were 132,981 tonnes of CO2e.

Water consumption

In 2017, total water consumption of our air separation units was 8,001,340 million cubic metres, with most of this being used for cooling the compressors in the air separation units. This represents a reduction of 0.2 million cubic metres.

The two main production processes used at Messer – air separation and CO2 purification – 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 accounts for the only water consumed in 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 MW of electrical output.

Certification of energy management systems

Our commitment to environmental protection is also reflected in our Quality Management System, which applies across the Messer Group as a whole. We are ISO 14001-certified in 21 consolidated companies.

In June 2017, the air separation units operated by Messer France at the production sites in Creil and Ugine were audited in accordance with the ISO 50001 standard. Through successful certification, we were able to provide proof of a well-functioning energy management system. Also in June, Messer France received the new certificate for its production site in Beauvais.

Energy Saving for our Customers

Our gases also help to make our customers’ products and processes more environmentally friendly. In 2017, we carried out 253 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 187.

But the sustainability of processes is also being boosted with the help of our cylinder gases.

For customers with a greater demand for gases, Messer installs stationary tanks that are supplied by means of tankers.
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