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Carbon stewardship

Our carbon stewardship strategy relies on two key factors: the conversion of more carbon from oil into carbon black and the optimization of our energy cycle. Our product LCA helps to identify actions we can take to reduce our overall carbon footprint.

Energy: Progress towards our target

  1. † FY2020 results were impacted significantly by the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Increase our absolute energy conversion efficiency to 80%.

Net energy positive

Efficient energy use and recovery is critical to our business. We have been tracking our energy conversion efficiency since FY2015, with the aim of increasing absolute efficiency to 80% by FY2030. This means that for every 100 carbon units introduced to our facilities, a minimum of 80 would be converted either to carbon black or to a useful form of energy.

In FY2020, we continued to make progress on our energy conversion key performance indicator (KPI) despite reduced production and temporary plant closures resulting from the COVID‑19 pandemic. With the lower production, we still must use the same amount of energy at some facilities to run our air emission control equipment, to maintain compliance with the stringent regulations.

As an example, annually, the Jining, China plant consumes over 60,000 MWh of electricity to produce carbon black; electricity that is internally generated through our energy-recovery systems. Some 25% of this consumption (around 15,000 MWh) is used to run large equipment such as fans and blowers, which enable us to comply with, and outperform, emission-control limits. This is equivalent to the electricity requirement of more than 1,200 homes. It demonstrates the challenges we can face in balancing different priorities when managing our environmental impact.

Our plant at Jining

Since we implemented our energy conversion KPI, we have made real progress: we now recover more energy from our own facilities and consume less energy per tonne of carbon black produced. Much of the energy we recover is used in our manufacturing process, while any surplus is sold to neighboring facilities and local grids in the form of electricity, steam, tail gas or hot water.

Globally, Birla Carbon is energy positive, selling more energy than we buy. We take a long-term view when it comes to making decisions about energy investments, and have a range of projects in the pipeline that will further increase our energy conversion rates in the coming years. For example, by making use of the best available technologies, our plant at Jining is energy positive and is already making a significant contribution to both our carbon- and our energy-related KPIs.

Our energy efficiency efforts are led by Regional Energy Managers, who assess the energy cycle of each of our plants and provide local expertise and support in areas where improvement is suggested. This knowledge is then shared across the rest of the business through our World-Class Manufacturing group. We also partner with the Aditya Birla Group’s Corporate Technical and Energy Services team for knowledge-sharing purposes. Our Energy and Carbon Policy, published in July 2018, sets out our commitments not only to comply with but to exceed regulations by reducing our energy intensity and carbon footprint.

World-Class Manufacturing group

Saving natural resources at Birla Carbon Thailand

During the carbon black manufacturing process, a carbon black smoke is produced at a high temperature. This smoke needs to be cooled down before it is piped into a bag collector. Traditionally, the smoke is cooled by a direct contact evaporative water spray – however, this requires large volumes of water. In response, in 2019, Birla Carbon Thailand installed a heat recovery boiler in the process line to cool the smoke, reducing annual water requirements by 12,750 m3.

Automating processes in North Bend to conserve resources

At our North Bend, Louisiana, USA facility, tail gas produced during the carbon black manufacturing process is repurposed for drying the carbon black pellets in dryers. It is also used to power boilers which generate steam to provide electricity.

Reducing our direct CO2 emission intensity

We continue to work to reduce our direct CO2 emission intensity. While we reduced our absolute CO2 emissions in FY2020, the intensity (per tonne of carbon black) increased as a result of temporary plant closures and reduced production due to the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Through the implementation of best practices and continuous technology investments, we have already achieved 35% of our CO2 emission intensity reduction target (FY2019: 42%). These results are accomplished through a series of capital-intensive global, regional and local initiatives. For example, we design reactors and technologies that enable us to optimize temperatures and gas flows, improving the conversion of carbon into carbon black.

Some of the challenges we face in achieving our carbon intensity target include the current low price of oil and a market demand for low-yield grades of carbon black. In the long term, these can help our customers reduce their carbon footprint through, for example, extending the life of tires or reducing the rolling resistance of tires and consequently vehicle fuel consumption. We still have several plants where significant improvements are expected to occur in the coming years.

Taking steps to reduce our CO2 footprint at Patalganga

Each of our sites is on its own path to sustainability. To help them along, we are establishing teams through our Operational Excellence program to focus efforts on our sites which have the most room for improvement.

Direct CO2 emissions: Progress towards our target

  1. † FY2020 results were impacted significantly by the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Reduce our direct CO2 emissions intensity by more than 22% against the 2005 baseline.

Promoting transparency

CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) is a nonprofit organization that works with companies and shareholders to disclose carbon emissions and the use of natural resources. In FY2015, we began to disclose our performance through the CDP online platform, something we continue to do annually. In FY2020, we voluntarily responded to their climate change questionnaire and replied to specific customer requests for information on our carbon footprint through our CDP Supply Chain response.

How we are supporting the SDGs

SDG 7

Affordable and clean energy

We continually seek opportunities to use more affordable and cleaner energy. Our facilities that contain co-generation units convert tail gas into energy that is then used in our plants, and excess is sold to the grid, supporting our commitment to circularity. Globally, we are energy positive.

SDG 12

Responsible consumption and production

We strive to reduce our carbon footprint, a goal which includes being more efficient about the energy we consume; we invest in cutting-edge technologies to keep our CO2 emissions below the industry benchmark.

SDG 13

Climate action

We focus on carbon stewardship, being net energy positive and reducing our GHG emissions, and our facilities are externally recognized for these efforts.

SDG 17

Partnerships for the goals

We work with CDP to disclose our carbon emissions performance, and voluntarily respond to questionnaires and customer information requests regarding our carbon footprint.

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