Carbon stewardship

We base our carbon stewardship strategy on two approaches: the conversion of more carbon from oil into carbon black, and the optimization of our energy cycle. Our product Life Cycle Assessment helps to drive actions to reduce our overall carbon footprint.

Net energy positive

Progress towards target

Target: Increase our absolute energy conversion efficiency to 80% – now extended to 2030.

FY2015FY2016FY2017FY2018FY2030 target
70.6%71.0%72.6%72.4%180%

1 FY2018 data from the new plant at Jining, China, are not included. FY2019 data are being collected.

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 our absolute energy conversion efficiency to 80% by FY2020. This means that out of 100 carbon units, a minimum of 80 would be converted either to carbon black or to a useful form of energy. Our new Energy and Carbon Policy (pdf, 0.5 MB), published in July 2018, sets out our commitments to positively comply with and exceed regulations by reducing our energy intensity and carbon footprint.

In the four years 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 to produce a tonne of carbon black. The recovered energy is used for our manufacturing process, while the 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 we have a range of projects in the pipeline that will further increase our energy conversion rates in the coming years. Due to market factors, including the relatively low price of oil at the current time, we have increased our focus on investing in energy recovery projects. For example, by making use of the best available technologies, our new plant at Jining is energy positive and will make a significant contribution to both our carbon- and energy-related KPIs in the coming years.

Our energy efficiency efforts are led by Regional Energy Managers (REMs), who assess the energy cycle of each of our plants and provide local expertise and support. Knowledge gained is then shared across 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.

Reaching world-class standards in China

Pushing our industry beyond its limits is in our nature. In September 2017, our new greenfield facility began operating in Jining, China. This world-class plant caters to customers in China with an installed capacity of 120,000 tonnes of carbon black, to expand to 240,000 tonnes in phase 2 of the project.

Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) is an important aspect of the Jining facility. From the moment feedstock enters the plant until the finished carbon black product is delivered to the customer, the plant ensures all material is handled in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. This means balancing a number of priorities.

The Jining plant has been designed based on Birla Carbon’s Sustainable Operational Excellence (SOE) approach, using cutting-edge technology to ensure direct CO2 emissions per tonne of carbon black produced is much lower than the industry benchmark. The plant is designed to operate at maximum efficiency at all times.

Birla Carbon Jining already is an “energy positive” plant, having its own energy management system generating high pressure steam and electricity to meet the energy needs of the plant as well as supplying surplus electricity to the state grid, avoiding fossil fuel usage and emissions by traditional energy providers. The Jining facility also uses state-of-the-art De-SOx and De-NOx boilers, which are fully compliant with the stringent Chinese environment standards to be reached by 2021. But achieving these high standards in air quality management and compliance comes at a cost in terms of the significant amounts of energy required to operate the air emission control technology. Annually, the facility consumes over 60,000 MWh of electricity to produce carbon black; electricity which is internally generated through our energy recovery systems. Some 25% of this energy consumption (around 15,000 MWh) is used to run large equipment such as fans and blowers, which enable us to comply with and exceed stringent air 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.

Generating our own energy to reduce emissions

At Birla Carbon, increasing our energy conversion efficiency is one of the key ways we reduce our environmental footprint. It enables us to reduce our reliance on purchased energy – including electricity, steam and non-production fuels – cutting costs, improving our energy resilience and reducing CO2 emissions. Over the past three years, we have reduced our energy purchased intensity by over 40% and reduced our boiler secondary fuel consumption by almost 77%. It has enabled us to reduce CO2 emissions by around 45,000 tonnes, equivalent to taking over 9,700 cars off the road each year!

How have we done it? The investments we’ve made include:

  • Installing of waste heat boilers at our Cubatão, Brazil, and Santander, Spain, plants;
  • Modifying combustion air systems at our Santander, Spain, plant;
  • Boiler heating and cooling cycle control at our Alexandria, Egypt, plant; and
  • Reducing electricity purchased through the installation of variable frequency drives across all facilities.

We also focus on education and best practice sharing at our plants; a significant portion of the non-production fuel reduction we have achieved has come through comparing plant data, establishing internal benchmarks, conducting gap analyses and improvement feasibility studies, and educating plant teams.

  • Energy
  • GHG

Reducing our direct CO2 emission intensity

We continue to work to reduce our direct CO2 emission intensity. Thanks to the implementation of best practices and continuous technology investments, we have achieved 32% of our CO2 emission intensity reduction target (FY2017: 40%). These results are accomplished through a series of global, regional and local initiatives that are capital-intensive. For example, we design reactors and technology 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 the 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 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 in the coming years. For this reason, we have extended our 2020 target to 2030.

Progress towards target

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

FY2015FY2016FY2017FY2018FY2030 target
90.1%90.2%90.1%92.9%2<78%

2 FY2018 data from the new plant at Jining, China, are not included. FY2019 data are being collected.

Promoting transparency: the CDP

The 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. We disclosed our performance through the CDP online platform for the first time in FY2015 and we have continued to do so annually. We voluntary respond to the Climate Change and Water questionnaires and we also respond to specific customer requests for information on our carbon footprint through our Supply Chain response.

Affordable and clean energy

We continually seek opportunities to use more affordable and cleaner energy. Our facilities that contain cogeneration units convert tail gas into energy that is then used either in our plants or sold to the grid. Globally, we are energy positive.

Responsible consumption and production

We strive to reduce our carbon footprint, which includes being more efficient about the energy we consume; we have been net energy positive since at least FY2016. We aim to avoid emissions and leaks as much as possible. We annually report on our sustainability efforts.

Climate action

We focus on carbon stewardship, being net energy positive and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

Partnerships for the goals

We help achieve the goals by working closely with our stakeholders, including our suppliers, regulators and governments.

60% of our sites are energy positive.