488

million m3
Total water intake

330

million m3
Freshwater withdrawal

6,231

metric tons O2
Chemical Oxygen Demand emissions

Definition

Water management encompasses the management of water flows and water quality, from abstraction from the natural environment to water flow restitution to the same or another environmental compartment.

Freshwater withdrawal (in millions of m3 per year) is the amount of incoming water from the public network (drinking water) and freshwater systems (rivers, lakes, etc.) as well as from groundwater sources (aquifers).

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) is the amount of oxygen reducing substances (mainly dissolved organic matter) discharged to aqueous receivers. COD is expressed as metric tons of oxygen per year. In addition to nitrogen and phosphorus species, Chemical Oxygen Demand also contributes to aquatic eutrophication.

Management approach

The Group has a company-wide water approach that includes a commitment to limit freshwater withdrawal and consumption, and to ensure that the quality status of the water bodies where effluents are discharged remains good, so that the impact on humans and natural biota is minimized. Solvay focuses on reducing two impacts: freshwater withdrawal and Chemical Oxygen Demand emissions.

Indicators and objectives

Overview of water flows (2018)

Water intake and consumption (graphic)
  • In 2018, the Group’s total water intake increased to 488 million m3 (19% more than in 2017). This significant increase is due to the start-up of the mega H2O2 plant in Jubail (Saudi Arabia), which needs high volumes of cooling water because of the hot climate;
  • 68% of the Group’s total water intake in 2018 was freshwater. Compared to 2017, the freshwater contribution decreased by 12%;
  • The 2018 Group’s total water discharge amounts to 455 million m3, 56% of which discharged to freshwater receptors;
  • Water loss by evaporation (19 million m3) takes place in industrial cooling towers or settling ponds;
  • The recycling rate of cooling water at Group level increased to 77%, representing an improvement of 4% in comparison with 2017.

Solvay’s objectives:

2020

-30%

of freshwater withdrawal intensity

2020

-30%

of Chemical Oxygen Demand emissions intensity

Baseline 2015

Freshwater withdrawal

 

 

2018

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

Scope: consistent with financial reporting.

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

Intensity (m3 per € EBITDA)

 

0.148

 

0.147

 

0.260

 

0.275

Absolute (Mm3)

 

330

 

326

 

494

 

538

The freshwater withdrawal intensity has been reduced by 46% since the start of the environmental plan, meaning that Solvay has already exceeded the 2020 target. Similarly, the Chemical Oxygen Demand emission intensity was cut by 32%, meaning that the Group has already exceeded the 2020 target in 2018. 

It should be noted that the majority of these reductions are due to the financial deconsolidation of the Performance Polyamides business since 2017.

Since the start of the ongoing environmental pan (2015-2020), the freshwater withdrawal from the plants has decreased by 39% (or about 13% per year).

The freshwater withdrawal of the Group in 2018 was only 4 million m3 (1.1%) greater than in 2017 . This increase of 4 million m3 is the resultant effect of many small increases and decreases at individual sites, making it difficult to identify any major event. This global augmentation is in line with the total production volume increase of the Group (1.7%).

It is, however, worth mentioning that, thanks to a restoration program of the water distribution network delivering water to the Salindres site (France), water leakages have been reduced significantly. This resulted in a 19% reduction of the freshwater intake at this site, despite a 24% increase in production volumes.

Water emissions (COD)

 

 

2018

 

2017

 

2016

 

2015

Scope: consistent with financial reporting.

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

Intensity (kg per € EBITDA)

 

0.0028

 

0.0025

 

0.0038

 

0.0042

Absolute (metric tons O2)

 

6,231

 

5,586

 

7,282

 

8,177

The Chemical Oxygen Demand releases from the Group were 645 tons or 12% greater than in 2017. This global change is due to a significant production increase at the Vernon site (United States), resulting in an additional 379 tons of Chemical Oxygen Demand (7%), and also due to the biological treatment plant at the Baton Rouge site (United States) being upset by a prolonged and unusual freeze, responsible for another 154 tons of COD (3%).

It should be noted that 1,358 tons of the Chemical Oxygen Demand Solvay declared for 2018 (around 22%) is due to third parties (typically plants which formerly belonged to the Group), from which Solvay is treating the effluents in its biological wastewater treatment plants (WWTP).

Since the start of the ongoing environmental plan (2015-2020), the Chemical Oxygen Demand emissions have decreased by 24% (or about 8% per year).