Energy use during the production process leads to the emission of gaseous pollutants. The Company recognising both the importance of combating climate change, and preventing air pollution, makes all possible efforts to reduce emissions generated by its operation. With regard to energy consumption, the Company focuses more on the usage of “clean” sources, such as natural gas, which generates comparatively lower gaseous pollutant emissions than other more polluting energy sources.
A new environmental project to save energy
In 2014, a new environmental project involving the construction and operation of an induction furnace for the reheating of billets at the Almyros, Magnissia, plant was completed. The aim of the project is to save energy by improving energy efficiency thus reducing gas emissions. The induction furnace for the reheating of billets was put into operation in September 2014 and energy savings came to 17,100 MWh. At the same time, the completion of a similar project at the Thessaloniki plant is expected within the first semester of 2016.
Reliability in measurements
The Company has outsourced the performance of the measurement of dust levels around the Thessaloniki and Almyros plants. The results of the measurements show that in all cases dust levels remain within the limits stipulated by laws and regulations. At the same time, levels are constantly measured and recorded at emission points (factory chimneys) through special instruments.
For the needs of the production process, the Company procures various materials. However, the raw material predominantly used is scrap iron. By systematically using scrap iron as a raw material in an efficient manner, the Company has become the largest recycler of scrap iron in Greece and one of the largest in SE Europe.
The percentage of recycled materials used in production is exceptionally high, and gives rise to significant environmental benefits. In 2014, the percentage in question was 99.79% for the Thessaloniki plant and 92% for the Almyros, Magnissia, plant.
Water is a valuable resources and using it efficiently is everybody’s obligation. The Company takes all the necessary steps to rationalise its usage and to limit the quantities required at the minimum possible levels.
Preservation of natural resources: System for the recycling of EAF slag cooling water
As part of its efforts to preserve natural resources, the Thessaloniki plant operates an integrated system for the recycling of water used for the cooling of electric furnace slag in the meltshop. The system consists of water collection tanks and of a corresponding pumping system. Through this method, we achieve considerable water savings each year. In 2014, savings generated by the unit amounted to 5,030 m3 of water.
All water quantities used by the Company are systematically monitored and recorded by its measuring and recording systems. The quantities of water pumped from boreholes always remain within the limits specified in the water usage permits, and the areas pumped do not come under a biodiversity protection scheme.
Preservation of natural resources: Operation of a reverse osmosis unit
The Almyros, Magnissia plant acquired a reverse osmosis unit in 2008, which has been operating since, achieving considerable savings in the quantities of valuable fresh water used. In 2014, the unit generated 516,000 m3 of water.
The unit is fed with brackish water which is treated to separate pure water from salt containing water across a semi-permeable membrane, which acts as a molecule and ion filter. The system of membranes used in desalination units has the capacity to reject 99% of the salts diluted into the brackish water. In a reverse osmosis system, a pump exerts pressure, which is higher than its own osmotic pressure, on the salt rich water which is thus fed onto the reverse osmosis membrane. Pure water passes through the membrane and is collected on the other side.
The Company seeks to implement water recirculation practices wherever feasible. In particular, in the Almyros, Magnissia, and in the Thessaloniki plants, water used for cooling in the various networks is recirculated, after being treated in the water treatment units and cooled in the cooling towers.
The Company implements waste management practices which are designed to protect the environment. The environmental management of by-products and waste generated in all production units is carried out in accordance with the following basic principles:
- avoiding generating them,
- optimising energy use / recovering energy and
- rational disposal.
Waste management is carried out in cooperation with companies specialising in alternative management systems, which carry the legally required approvals, and with licensed (per waste category) companies specialised in the collection, transportation, management and recovery of waste.
The largest part of the waste generated is directed to recycling and energy recovery, and only a small part heads for disposal.
Protection of biodiversity
The areas where the Company operates do not come under a biodiversity protection status. However, the Company is a firm believer in the vital importance of nature and biodiversity, and in every case any stresses to the environment that may arise as a result of the operation of production units remain within the limits stipulated by laws and regulations.
A department for the environment has been included in the organisational chart in the Company’s two production plants, and operates with the objective to implement the Environmental Management System, to monitor environmental programmes and to proceed to the approval of environmental conditions. The Management is informed directly by competent executives about environmental protection issues and monitors the implementation of the environmental policy.
Training in environmental issues
The successful implementation of the environmental policy and the creation of an environmentally-minded culture can only be achieved through the active participation of all. To this end, the Company provides training to its staff on issues of environmental management (e.g. environmentally safe management of raw materials and waste, energy and water preservation, applicable legislation, etc.).
Investments and expenses
The Management of the Company provides the resources necessary for the protection of the environment. To ensure the upgrading of infrastructures and the ongoing improvement of its performance in that respect, significant investments are made annually.
The burning of natural gas for the needs of the production process generates nitrogen oxide (ΝΟx) and carbon dioxide CO2 emissions. The Company monitors, records and manages these emissions, taking care that they do not exceed the prescribed limits.
A new programme to reduce emissions
A new environmental programme involving the installation of a system for the shock-cooling of flue gas (high temperature quenching – HTQ) at the meltshop is underway at the Sovel S.A. plant. The purpose of the programme is to improve the plant’s environmental performance by reducing dioxin – furan and fugitive emissions. It is expected that installation will have been completed and the programme will be operational by the end of February 2015.
The nature of the Company’s operations requires that raw and other materials are transported by suppliers to its premises, and that finished products are transported to distributors/ customers. Moreover, transportation is required for the commuting of staff and some executives needs to go on business trips.
A series of practices has been established which among the other benefits they provide also lead to the reduction of CO2 emissions and of other impacts the transportation of people has on the environment.
- transportation of staff by rented and/or company buses,
- recruiting staff from the local communities.
- All required environmental permits are in place.
- The Company promotes and encourages exchange of environment related knowledge and experience with the state, local authorities and other bodies, to make sure that we operate within a framework of full transparency to achieve optimal results for the community.
- The Company promotes its environmental policy to its subcontractors, suppliers and other partners.
- We cooperate with properly licensed companies for the management of our waste.
- A manager has been appointed to head the handling of environment related issues.
- The exchange of information with the community is carried out in a spirit of sincere dialogue and mutual respect.
- In the design and operation of plants, measures to minimise the environmental impact and maximise energy performance are taken into consideration with the aim to protect natural resources.
- The production process keeps evolving to adapt to the new scientific and technical landscape, and an example would be the adoption of the EUs Best Available Techniques wherever they apply, for the purpose of reducing our environmental footprint.
- We take steps to provide continuous training and to sensitise our people to environmental issues, in order to motivate them towards environmentally responsible conduct.
- Programmes for the management of environmental issues, such as solid and liquid waste, emissions of gaseous pollutants, noise emissions, recycling / reuse / recovery of materials, energy and water management, as well as good housekeeping practices, are implemented.
- All means and procedures are reviewed regularly to ensure the effectiveness of environmental protection measures.
- The management of environmental issues is subject to regular assessments and new targets are each time set to support continuous improvement of the environmental performance and reduction of the environmental footprint.
Environmental Management System
The Company, aiming at the integrated management of environmental issues related to its operation, has been implementing an Environmental Management System at both the Almyros, Magnissia, plant and at the Thessaloniki plant since 2005.
The Environmental Management Systems implemented in the Company’s two production plants have been certified according to the ISO 14001:2004 international standard.