Complying with international laws, standards, codes of conduct and our own business principles is fundamental to Birla Carbon as it helps us to operate responsibly, mitigate risk and build trust with stakeholders. Compliance with laws is also a basic expectation of our customers and stakeholders. We recognize we must act responsibly in our interactions with the world around us. As responsible stewards of the resources that we manage, we adopt international standards to guide our actions and take greater ownership of our role in our industry.
All of our operating manufacturing plants are certified to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard. Seven of our plants are already certified to the ISO 50001 standard related to energy management and six have obtained the Aditya Birla Group’s Corporate World Class Manufacturing (WCM) certification, a Group-wide initiative that promotes and supports the highest standards in manufacturing and production. Meeting all relevant environmental standards will help us strengthen our industry-leading position and our goal is for all sites to achieve WCM and ISO 50001 in the near future. Our work in the evolving design of our new facility in Jining, China, is an example of the flexibility and ability of our environmental and technological management processes.
The Birla Carbon Environmental Audit Program not only reviews the compliance and implementation of our standards, but also includes biennial safety and compliance audits conducted by Health, Safety & Environment (HS&E) corporate staff and outside auditors. These audits include inspections, employee interviews and detailed reviews of regulatory issues at each plant to ensure 100% compliance with national, regional and local regulations. Any issue identified is prioritized and tracked by the Corporate HS&E Managers on a monthly basis through Enablon, our integrated Sustainability Management tool.In FY2016, we conducted eight audits of our environmental performance.
To improve efficiency, we are upgrading and enhancing our old plants, while developing a new generation of facilities. In FY2016, we invested $[33.4M] million in state-of-the-art technology to help us maximize the efficiency of our manufacturing processes and enhance our environmental performance.
Jining: an example of how SOE works
Sustainable Operational Excellence (SOE) is at the heart of our work and ambition. Construction has now begun on our greenfield project in Jining, China, which we announced in FY2015. To ensure the best possible design, Birla Carbon approached the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) thanks to the Aditya Birla Group, between whom there is a long-standing relationship. We worked closely with the IFC to earn their financial assistance, conditioned by a set of defined sustainability best practices.
As part of the process the IFC reviewed and critiqued our project in FY2015, scrutinizing not only the Jining site but the surrounding facilities, environment and communities, on the following points:
IFC suggestions and comments were taken into account as we refined our design. The facility will now encompass the latest technologies, ensuring best practices for emission controls, water management and energy cycle optimization. On completion, the project is expected to create 140 direct jobs and many more contracted positions, while improving the competitiveness of local industry.
Since the IFC review China’s environmental regulations have evolved, with an increased focus on human health. Birla Carbon was forced to adapt to these stricter criteria through reengineering and creative thinking to demonstrate compliance to the local authorities.
Construction is now underway and the project’s environmental, health and safety compliance to date has been exemplary. No accidents or environmental violations have been recorded, thanks to close collaboration with our contractors. The design and construction of our greenfield facility demonstrates how we can harness our abilities. Thanks to this example of SOE, we remain on track to produce our first tonne of carbon black by the end of FY2017.
We monitor our air emissions to ensure compliance with local regulations where we operate. We have policies and procedures in place so that, in the case of incidents, we can notify the local authorities and take action as soon as possible. To meet and exceed evolving regulatory standards, Birla Carbon continues to work on technology improvements such as state-of-the-art filter materials, which ensure maximum recovery of carbon black particles. In addition, we proactively evaluate innovative global technologies relating to air emissions for applicability to all our operations.
During FY2016, and in response to up-coming regulatory requirements, we have evaluated potential technologies that will more effectively manage flue gas desulfurization. An offset from this process is an increase in gypsum generation, an inert solid waste. We are currently working to support plants to better manage this by-product and find beneficial uses for it, thus keeping it out of landfills.
This year, we continued to focus our efforts on sharing best practices across our facilities. The best practices system is a methodology by which the best safety, quality, operating and maintenance techniques can be transferred across all our operating plants, to ensure that all of the plants can perform to their optimum potential.
Progress is measured through quarterly scorecards, detailing how each plant has implemented best practices. In FY2016, three best practice categories were changed or updated and five new categories added, bringing the best practices total to 431.
We hold quarterly reviews with a special focus on energy and emission control. Bi-annual best practice reviews were implemented alongside compliance assessments at seven facilities. In FY2016, we have also circulated specific training modules on boiler and turbine operation and held three regional energy seminars and two training sessions in Marietta, the United States, and Alexandria, Egypt.
invested in process improvements related to energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions