Definition

Nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emissions contribute to atmospheric and freshwater acidification. Non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) emissions contribute to the formation of tropospheric ozone and summer smog. Thus, these categories of substances are material because they directly impact air quality.

Nitrogen oxide emissions from Solvay’s operations result mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas. They are expressed as the sum of nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, excluding Nitrous oxide (N2O) that contributes to global warming but does not have any acidification impact.

Sulfur oxide emissions (SOx) arise mainly from the combustion of anthracite or coal.

Non-methane volatile organic compounds are: volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with a standard boiling point below or equal to 250°C (EU Solvent Directive 1999/13/EC). NMVOCs are VOCs other than methane. Methane emissions from Solvay’s mining activity at Green River (Wyoming, United States) are not included. Their impact is integrated into the greenhouse gas emission indicator.

Management approach

Air quality is managed through the Health, Safety and Environment management systems deployed by sites in line with Group requirements.

Solvay is committed to improving air quality at local and regional levels, in close cooperation with local stakeholders. In the framework of its environmental plan, Solvay focuses on the following pollutants: nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulfur oxides (SOX), and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC).

Indicators and objectives

Solvay’s objective:

Solvay’s objective:

2020

-50%

of nitrogen oxides emissions intensity

2020

-50%

of sulfur oxide emissions intensity

2020

-40%

of non-methane volatile organic compound emissions intensity

Baseline 2015

Air emissions, intensity

In kg per € EBITDA

 

2018

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

Scope: consistent with financial reporting.

Nitrogen oxides – NOx

 

0.0033

 

0.0042

 

0.0059

 

0.0062

Sulfur oxides – SOx

 

0.0017

 

0.0021

 

0.0028

 

0.0033

Non-methane volatile organic compounds – NMVOC

 

0.0024

 

0.0023

 

0.0026

 

0.0035

Since the start of the environmental plan in 2015, the emission intensities for nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and NMVOC have dropped by 47%, 49%, and 31% respectively. So, for sulfur and nitrogen oxides, over 90% of Solvay’s 2020 target has already been achieved after three years. For NMVOC the figure is 75%.

Air emissions, absolute

In metric tons

 

2018

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

Scope: consistent with financial reporting.

Past figures have been restated to reflect the impact of methodology improvements.

Nitrogen oxides – NOx

 

7,365

 

9,432

 

11,115

 

12,148

Sulfur oxides – SOx

 

3,746

 

4,562

 

5,343

 

6,490

Non-methane volatile organic compounds – NMVOC

 

5,344

 

5,173

 

4,941

 

6,780

Solvay’s nitrogen oxide emissions went down significantly since 2017 (-2,066 tons or -22%), further closing the gap with its peers in the sector despite the energy intensive nature of the Soda Ash & Derivative Global Business Unit activity. This progress was achieved mainly on the sites at Devnya (Bulgaria, -1,032 tons or -11 %) and Torrelavega (Spain, -684 tons or -7%). In Devnya, the new Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) boiler installed in October 2017 reached its full potential in 2018. In Torrelavega, the improvement was obtained by injecting water into the combustion chamber of the gas-fired cogeneration unit since April 2018.

Since the start of the ongoing environmental plan (2015-2020), nitrogen oxide emissions decreased by 39% or about 13% per year. These changes have been achieved through investments in abatement technologies.

Solvay’s sulfur oxide emissions have been cut by a further 816 tons since 2017, representing an additional 18% improvement. This result has been obtained thanks to the installation of a new CFB boiler in Devnya in October 2017 (-474 tons), the implementation of a new desulfurization (DeSOx) unit in Torrelavega since August 2018 (-341 tons), and the increased use of low-sulfur fuels such as natural gas and biomass at the sites at Dombasle (-107 tons) and Tavaux (France, -91 tons). It is worthwhile mentioning that the existing DeSOx installation in Tavaux was also further optimized. An increase of 217 tons of SOx was noticed at the Atequiza site (Mexico), which is attributed to an increased production of one of their products.

Since the start of the ongoing environmental plan (2015-2020), sulfur oxide emissions have decreased by 42% or about 14% per year. These changes have been achieved through investments in new burners, new desulfurization units, and optimization of existing ones.

Compared to 2017, the NMVOC emissions from the Group have slightly increased (172 tons or 3.3%). This global change is explained mainly by an increase of 100 tons (2%) at the Green River site (United States) due to normal year-to-year variations in the amount of vented mine gas and 46 tons (0.9%) at the Zhangjiagang site (China) in Aroma Performance activities. At the Spinetta site (Italy), the implementation of a regular LDAR (Leak Detection And Repair) program allowed a decrease in the R22 emissions by a factor of 4 (from 16 tons to 4.2 tons).

Since the start of the ongoing environmental plan (2015-2020), NMVOC emissions have decreased by 21% or about 7% per year. It should be noted that the majority of this reduction is due to the financial deconsolidation of the Performance Polyamides businesses, since 2017.