Viscofan has a strong global presence, operating in a world with an ever-increasing growth in population and consumption and subsequent rise in the use of natural resources. At the same time, there is a growing social awareness with regard to the need for the effective use of resources, for a sustainable future in which economic growth goes hand in hand with environmental and social needs. Viscofan acknowledges this situation and is responsibly committed to the protection and conservation of the environment.
This commitment is stated in the corporate policy of EHS which defines the organisation’s values and establishes the following priorities with regard to the environment:
To ensure the principles included in the policy are applied, the Viscofan Group has created the EHS Management Directives, which establish the common grounds for implementing health and occupational safety and environmental management systems. A total of 15 directives specify requirements for 15 areas such as managing regulation compliance, identifying and assessing risks and environmental issues, or preparing emergency procedures, among others.
Designed with the philosophy of on-going improvements and internationally recognised standards such as the OHSAS 18001 or the ISO 14001, their implementation was started simultaneously across all the group’s plants in the 3rd quarter of 2015, with the aim of completely finishing the implementation in our production plants by the end of the first half of the MORE TO BE period.
Alongside this, our more advanced plants in terms of Management Systems (Cáseda and Weinheim), already certified with OHSAS 18001, are working to obtain certification in their environmental management systems in compliance with the ISO 14001 in 2016, and in the case of Brazil, the OHSAS 18001 certification.
Moreover, we are convinced of the effectiveness of dialogue with our different interest groups in understanding their concerns and various suggestions for improvements in this issue. Information that we can also use to generate the materiality matrix of the EHS area.
The company wishes to promote a production model that backs long-term sustainability in the use of resources and that contributes to preventing climate change.
The importance Viscofan grants to the field of EHS is reflected in the inclusion in 2015 of a specific EHS indicator in the variable retribution of senior management. This indicator reflects the company’s performance in Environmental Protection, Employee Health and Safety Protection, and the level of fire protection in the company facilities, which requires a new drive towards sustainability.
Likewise, at the end of 2015, Viscofan signed affiliation to the United Nations Global Compact. Our President, Mr José Domingo de Ampuero y Osma, in representation of Viscofan S.A. took our support to the Ten Principles of the Global Compact governing human rights, labour rights, the environment and the fight against corruption. In this statement, Viscofan commits to continue working on the implantation of the Ten Principles and to keeping a report on its activities and progress in this line of action.
The Viscofan Group works along two key lines that group together and guide the company’s projects in environmental issues:
As long as the Viscofan Group is able to use available resources more efficiently, whether raw materials, energy or water resources, the company will get closer to its sustainability target.
During 2015, progress was made in the establishment of indicators that allow us to measure the performance of our plants in terms of efficient water or energy use.
We work in an environment with an increasing demand for industrial water, which is why its optimised usage is one of the cornerstones supporting Viscofan’s environmental policy. We have identified the key management indicators with a double objective: the optimisation of water in all possible company subsidiaries, and on the other hand the improvement of the water treatment process with the aim of reducing its contaminating impact.
During 2014 we began working on establishing indicators for the consumption and use of water, which in 2015 allowed us to follow-up the evolution of consumption of the different plants and to set up an internal benchmarking system to transfer best practices between the centres, the same way as with production technology.
In 2015, investments and improvements to processes aimed at reducing water consumption, allowed us to obtain the first results in Brazil and Mexico, with reductions in water consumption of over 10%.
This same objective has led to the initiation of projects to re-use water in Serbia, Uruguay and China, which we hope will enable us to achieve additional improvements.
Taking into account the water consumption of all the group’s plants, in 2015 a reduction of over 3% was achieved in 2015 in comparison to 2014 levels.
The intensity ratio of water consumption (m3/million metres produced) in 2015 shall be used as the base 100 to measure the evolution of our water consumption intensity over the coming years and to establish improvement targets.
On the other hand, Viscofan understands that appropriate management of water also includes the correct treatment of waste waters and the minimisation of the impact of its activities on the environment. In 2015 investments were made in water treatment to improve the quality of our waste water, such as the new waste water treatment plant constructed in Zacapu (Mexico).
Raw materials and waste
Another cornerstone of the EHS policy is to reduce waste and improve recovery rates, giving priority to management systems that employ less waste processes. In this respect, the efficient use of raw materials is key and has a doubly beneficial outcome, both for Viscofan and the environment.
The reduction of waste generation and the optimisation of its management, giving priority to recovery or recycling as opposed to other systems such as destruction or disposal, should, over the coming years, become one of the cornerstones of EHS management.
Over the past year, the consolidation of operations in Uruguay and the implementation of a collagen mass manufacturing plant in Cáseda, have significantly contributed to the 2% increase in our total generation of waste. Due to the forecast increase of the activity in the Group for 2016, it is expected an increase of the total generation of waste.
However, by managing these better we have been able to increase the percentage of recycled and re-used waste compared to those destroyed and sent for disposal.
Moreover, the efficient use of raw materials is not just applied to our production plants, but also to the company’s offices, where a sustainable use of resources is encouraged. For 2016 the group wants to promote a campaing at the head offices to reduce the use of printed paper, as a means of extending the EHS culture to other areas of the organisation.
The group also focuses its efforts on waste management to recover more waste. Despite expansion with two new plants and an increase in productive output over recent years, the group’s efforts in this field are reflected in the increase of waste recovered since 2009 and which in 2015 represented more than 65% of the total waste generated.
This percentage is the result of multiple initiatives across all the group’s plants, such as the example of the plant in the Czech Republic, which by separating each waste type at the source and by seeking out recycling solutions, was able to increase the percentage of recycled waste from 8% in 2012 to almost 70% in 2015, including recycled and reused waste. During 2016 a waste management knowledge transfer process will be initiated from our plant in the Czech Republic, to other group plants with the aim of replicating their best practices in other centres.
2015 will be also established as the base 100 for measuring the group’s evolution in this area over the coming years.
On the other hand, in Brazil a research project is underway to recycle our cellulose casing through enzymatic degradation. The project, undertaken in collaboration with our largest clients, seeks an easily applicable recycling solution for our cellulose casing once used in the stuffing process. During 2015 advances were made in this project, analysing the behaviour of different enzymes together with different types of pre-treatment to achieve a better performance in the cellulose degradation process.
The Viscofan Group’s focus on sustainability is geared towards an efficient use of energy with a low environmental impact. We wish to promote the rational and efficient use of energy across the entire Viscofan value chain, from our factories to our suppliers. Our strategy for achieving this is to simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the adverse effects of these gases on our environment.
World awareness of the need to achieve a sustainable energy model able to reduce CO2 emissions based on saving, efficiency and renewable energies continues to grow.
We understand that efficient energy use is key to achieving the target of contributing to prevent climate change. Effective use of heat, even in our production process effluents, or substituting equipment with high energy requirements for more efficient ones, form part of the Viscofan strategy, focused on reducing global CO2 emissions. Reducing our energy requirements and getting the very maximum use out of the various forms that are used in our processes.
Viscofan continuously invests in the use of new, more efficient technologies in different areas of its processes, such as the new evaporation system in Brazil. This new system, which allows for reductions of over 50% in the energy needed to evaporate each Kg of water in comparison with the previous system, is the group’s new evaporation benchmark. Over the coming years, we hope to expand the use of this technology to the other cellulose plants.
In this casing production process, an efficient use of energy is the key to a competitive advantage. In this respect, the Viscofan Group has co-generation plants in Cáseda (Spain), in Zacapu (Mexico), and in Weinheim (Germany).
This transformation was an important milestone in Viscofan energy efficiency, allowing the group to produce more than half its energy from certified management systems in compliance with ISO 50.001 regulations governing energy efficiency. This energy efficiency management system enables us to prepare for compliance with the new RD 56/2016 governing energy efficiency, referring to energy audits transposing the 2012/27/ EU directive.
Just as with water use and waste management, in 2015 we improved the quality of our indicators, incorporating measurements of both direct and indirect emissions, another reason for establishing 2015 as the base 100 for measuring our evolution over the coming years.
During 2015 the greater availability of the Cáseda co-generation plant meant that the total emissions were slightly higher in absolute value compared to 2014, even though in terms of intensity, the plant continues to improve its efficiency by consolidating the old engine renovations, finished in 2014.
The use of co-generation as an energy and heat generation source implies an emission reduction in comparison with other systems such as conventional steam generation. In the case of Cáseda, a CO2 emissions saving of over 30% has been achieved.
Among the short-term projects there is also the co-generation facility in our Suzhou extrusion plant, which will allow us to continue to improve the group’s energy consumption/CO2 emissions.
This growing commitment with sustainability is also evident in the financial aspect, as the environment, health and safety projects in 2014 involved an investment of €4.9 million and reached €5.17 million in 2015, representing 9% of total investments, among which the following are outstanding given the amounts designated to them: optimising steam and energy generation facilities, waste water treatment and improvements to fire protection facilities, ergonomic improvements, restructuring water consumption, new facilities for treating waste water, equity security, etc.