UN Goal 12 - Responsible consumption and production
Child page UN Goal 12
Introduction UN Goals
In 2015, under the aegis of the United Nations, the international community adopted Agenda 2030. It lays out 17 global goals together with the call to implement measures to achieve those goals. In particular, the Sustainable Development Goals No Poverty, Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Resonsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions are of great importance to Messer. Both global and local projects and activities, as well as initiatives supported by Messer, contribute to various sustainability goals. The individual projects contribute to long-term improvement and can be viewed here:
Accordion UN Goal 12
By the intrinsic nature of the process, the decomposition of ambient air in our air separation units produces no toxic or environmentally harmful emissions. Even if a shutdown or a power outage occurs, only natural components of the surrounding air are emitted. When supplying our gases, only the compressed gases delivered in steel cylinders in gaseous form are considered to be packaged products. As a general rule, our customers lease steel gas cylinders from us and return the empty cylinders to us after use. After subsequent cleaning and inspection, they are 100 percent reusable, remaining in circulation for at least 30 years.
We express our CO2 footprint – in other words, the sum of all greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly by our production facilities and logistics – in CO2 equivalents (CO2e). In the 2020 financial year, that value was a combined 4.78 million metric tons of CO2e – and therefore 40,000 metric tons below the previous year’s figure. Since 2018, the quantity of emissions has been calculated separately for each production unit. Our calculation of greenhouse gases is broken down into three categories according to the GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Protocol: Direct emissions (Scope 1), indirect emissions from procured energy (Scope 2), and other direct emissions in the upstream and downstream supply chain (Scope 3).
We measure CO2 emissions intensity as coefficient CO2e per euro of sales. That value was a combined 1.53 CO2e for Messer in 2020, and therefore slightly below the combined value of 1.55 CO2e measured for 2019.
Scope 1 includes direct emissions generated by our production facilities, especially in connection with the manufacture of hydrogen, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Other direct emissions are generated by the combustion of fuel in logistics. In 2020, Scope 1 for Messer worldwide was 220,600 metric tons of CO2e. In 2019, the comparable value was 78,300 metric tons of CO2e. There are two explanations for that significant change: Firstly, the 2020 calculation also included direct emissions from North and South America for the first time. And secondly, a correction was made to reassign the scope of the bulk products used in our filling plants. Up till 2019, they had been assigned to Scope 1, and starting from 2020 they will be included under Scope 2. This shifts more than 90 percent of the associated greenhouse gas emissions, which corresponds to about 25,000 metric tons of CO2e.
In 2020, the bulk and cylinder fleet of Messer Group including Western Europe consumed 29.95 million liters of diesel fuel. In 2019, that figure was 32.3 million liters. Our fleet traveled a total of 96.98 million kilometers in 2020; that figure was 106.2 million kilometers in 2019.
The average rate of diesel fuel consumption was essentially unchanged: it was 0.310 liters per kilometer in 2019, and 0.309 liters per kilometer traveled, was the average consumption calculated in 2020.
We express the trend in distance traveled per metric ton (payload) of liquefied industrial gases or cylinder gases with an index value of 101.9, whereby the index was 100 in 2019. At Messer Group including Western European subsidiaries, the distance traveled in 2019 was 21.6 kilometers / metric ton; in 2020, that figure averaged 22.3 kilometers / metric ton. The slight degradation in this parameter resulted from, among other factors, the fact that the seamless supply of medical oxygen during the coronavirus crisis required longer routes.
Messer Americas documented this parameter for the first time in 2020, posting a value of 24.2 kilometers / metric ton.
Logistics implemented various efficiency improvement measures. Examples include:
- The introduction of an onboard computer system for trucks to promote more defensive and therefore more fuel-efficient driving
- Route planning and KPI analysis to reduce the number of kilometers driven
- Supplier audits concentrating not only on technical aspects, but also on sustainability and environmental issues and requiring the suppliers’ adherence to the ten Principles of the UN Global Compact
In Croatia, the Czech Republic, Serbia and China, Messer produces nitrous oxide in N2O plants. That gas is used in medical applications and in the electronics and food industries. In Switzerland and China, Messer operates a total of six company-owned hydrogen plants. Three other hydrogen units located on our customers’ premises in Austria and Hungary (on-site units) are not included in the calculation of our own CO2 footprint. In its gaseous state, hydrogen is used in many industrial sectors, including as a food additive in hydrogenation or fat-hardening, in heat treatment processes, as an energy source, or even as an emissions-free fuel.
Indirect CO2 emissions under Scope 2 relate to the process of producing the electricity purchased throughout the Group and totaled 4.51 million metric tons in 2020, 1.64 million metric tons of which were allocated to Messer in North and South America. The decrease versus the previous year’s value of 4.57 million metric tons, which did not yet include the quantities from Messer in North and South America, is primarily attributable to the lower emissions factor: as long as the global trend toward producing more green electricity continues, our indirect CO2 emissions under Scope 2 – which make up more than 90 percent of our total emissions – will follow that trend, till the long-term goal of climate neutrality has been achieved.
With regard to the air separation units that we develop and build, their energy-efficient design and the cost-effective procurement of energy used to operate them play major roles.
Our goal is to continuously reduce the specific energy consumption of our air separation units. That goal will be achieved through better utilization of the existing production units as well as continuous investment and specifically targeted projects that sustainably increase the energy efficiency of the units. This task falls under the purview of the Global Energy Officer (GEO), which has been a permanent function within the Messer organization since 2014.
Energy efficiency in production is expressed in the energy coefficient. It indicates how much electrical power a production unit consumed per metric ton of product it produced as compared with a theoretical “reference unit” (energy coefficient = 100). In the 2020 financial year, this value averaged 99.9 worldwide at Messer. In the previous year, the figure was 98.4, but did not yet include the activities of Messer in North and South America. For this reason, no direct comparison can be made between the energy coefficients of the 2020 and 2019 financial years.
The emissions factor was about 4.8 percent lower than the previous year. Our absolute, worldwide CO2e footprint was about 1 percent smaller in 2020, despite the fact that more electrical power was consumed overall for quantity of product manufactured. We achieved this by improving the electrical power emissions factor of our production units: the make-up of the applied energy mix featured a higher share of “green energy” than in the previous year.
In 2020, our production units consumed 10.6 TWh of electricity worldwide, which was 0.4 TWh more than in 2019. This change was attributable to a significant increase in electrical demand in Asia (+15 percent) versus 2019, while demand in Europe and the Americas fell (-6.8 and -0.9 percent, respectively). The share of intentionally purchased green electricity, i.e. electrical power beyond the average share of power from renewable energies in the grid, totaled 65 GWh.
To optimize our electricity procurement, we use continuous tenders and long-term framework agreements and continuously monitor the futures and spot markets. We have a centralized team that supports and advises our subsidiaries when they purchase electrical power. It also regularly reviews electricity costs and the use of renewable energies in the context of a comparative analysis.
Despite efficiency improvements, the Group’s indirect CO2 emissions (Scope 2) increased as a result of sales growth due to new air separation units – including the North and South American units that have now been included in the calculation for the first time – as well as due to higher utilization of existing units. Through reduction of specific electrical energy consumption, which is documented by energy coefficients, and minimization of the emissions factor relative to the purchased electricity mix, however, the absolute emissions increase remains disproportionately low.
The efficiency improvement measures in Production included:
- Replacement of obsolete, inefficient equipment by modern technology (e.g. a new air compressor in the air separation unit in Smederevo, Serbia)
- Installation of on-site units to eliminate the need for liquefied gas deliveries by truck (e.g. air separation unit in Speyer, Germany; N2 generator at Wieland, Austria)
- Implementation of Aspen DMC advanced process control software in seven air separation units
The emissions covered under Scope 3 are indirect emissions unrelated to the purchase of electrical power. Examples include the purchase of competitors’ products, business travel, and employees’ commute to their place of work. The total CO2 equivalence value for greenhouse gas emissions under Scope 3 was 43,000 metric tons. That represents a significant reduction versus the comparable figure from 2019, which was 175,000 metric tons of CO2e. Moreover, the value for 2020 also includes the figures from Messer in North and South America, which was not the case in 2019. This trend is primarily attributable to the correct allocation of product swaps in 2020: Messer sells bulk products from its own sources to competitors in exchange for product from competitors’ sources. This can significantly reduce the number of kilometers driven along with the resulting emissions.
Group-wide, our air separation units consumed 16.6 million cubic meters of water in 2020. That value was 700,000 cubic meters lower than in the 2019 financial year. Most of the water we use cools the compressors in our air separation units.
Our main manufacturing processes – air separation, CO2 purification and liquefaction – need no water for process control. Rather, they generate large quantities of heat – mainly by the compression of gases – which are usually removed by a cooling water system.
Most units have an open cooling circuit: the cooling water circulates in a loop, absorbing heat from the respective sources and discharging it to the atmosphere in an open cooling tower. In an open cooling tower, part of the circulating water evaporates and another part is removed to prevent insoluble components from thickening. Fresh water must be fed back into the system to replace the water that is evaporated and/or removed. This results in the only direct water consumption of our manufacturing processes. Directly dependent on a unit’s power consumption, the quantity of water added is around two to three cubic meters per hour per megawatt of electrical power.
Our commitment to environmental protection is also reflected by our quality management system, which regulates our operations the world over. We are certified according to ISO 14001 and RCMS in 59 consolidated companies. ISO 14001 is an internationally recognized standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It defines requirements designed to help organizations establish, implement, maintain and continuously improve their environmental management systems. RCMS certification serves the comparable purpose and function for our American production sites.
Our goal is not only to minimize our own CO2 footprint, but also to help our customers reduce their emissions as well. Through the impact of our gas applications, we achieve this with an efficient supply of gases – via on-site units, for example, or the use of green hydrogen.
Our customers use our Gases for Life in industrial processes to increase the efficiency, quality, capacity and eco-friendliness of their activities, and/or to reduce the associated emissions and costs. To maximize those effects, we work closely together with our customers. We supply application engineering equipment and expertise, help design and optimize processes, and actively support process development in the service of our customers.
The number of new bulk agreements signed by Messer Group including the Western European subsidiaries remained close to the level of the previous year: In the 2020 financial year, 29.7 percent of new contracts were signed with explicitly positive overall effect on the environment: in the 2019 financial year that figure was 26 percent.
The increased number of new contracts based on applications with positive effects on the environment include, among other things:
- An increase in the number of oxygen applications in China
- Systematic trials with and implementation of cryocondensation units
- Advanced development of oxyfuel and hydrogen-oxygen combustion technology
The installation of on-site units for the local production of industrial gases and the resulting replacement of bulk deliveries reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 3,200 metric tons of CO2e in the 2020 financial year.
In August 2020, Messer Group joined the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance to share with partner firms throughout Europe our extensive expertise in industrial gases relative to the efficient and effective use of green hydrogen. Since 2020, Messer has also been a partner in the project to expand EnBW Group’s power-to-gas plant in Grenzach-Wyhlen in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The electrolysis plant operated there will be expanded to a total electrical power of six megawatts by 2023. We are responsible for marketing the green hydrogen in the surrounding region, and this gives us an opportunity to help decarbonize the regional transportation network and the regional industry.
In the USA, Messer Industries has been successfully marketing hydrogen for mobility applications for 15 years now. Twelve locations are currently supplied, including the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina – one of the largest facilities in the world where fork lift trucks are deployed. Another focus area is the bus sector: New legislation in California (CARB / Innovative Clean Transit Regulation) and Europe (Directive 2009/33/EC on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles) oblige bus companies to gradually convert their fleets to emission-free drives by 2030. In 2020, Messer Industries set a new world record for refueling fuel cell-powered buses in series. Messer is actively involved in supplying fuel for fuel cell-powered buses in China as well: We resupply hydrogen refueling stations for them in Zhangjiagang and Chengdu.
In 2019, Messer supplies argon, methane, oxygen and acetylene to Master Solar in Šimanovci near Belgrade. The company produces equipment that makes thermal use of the sun’s energy. Along with collectors, this also includes stratified charge storage tanks for water warmed by the sun. Master Solar’s high-quality units have proven their worth even under extreme climate conditions. The gases are used for various welding processes, including CMT (cold metal transfer) welding, which produces particularly high-quality, practically splatter-free welds.
In 2019, Messer supplies CO2 and hardware to Gezhouba Environment & Engineering to neutralize alkaline wastewater. The company cleans sludge pumped from Dian Lake. The largest inland lake in Yunnan Province is polluted due to over-fertilization. An alkaline, calcareous agent is used to extract water from the sludge. That process wastewater is then highly alkaline and contains about 500 milligrams of lime per liter. Carbon dioxide, introduced with tubular reactors built by Messer, lowers the pH and softens the water. Unlike the previously used hydrochloric acid process, this method releases no chloride ions. Now the treated wastewater can be pumped right back into the lake. And process costs have also been reduced by more than 30 percent.
In June 2019, together with the Institute for Environmental Protection and Sensors IOS, Messer Slovenija organized a professional symposium on the purification of process water and wastewater in the paper and metal industries. Experts from Messer showed participants the possible uses of industrial gases and how they affect the processes of conditioning, purification and neutralization of industrial water, including specific examples from industrial practice.