Reducing our environmental footprint

Reducing our environmental footprint

Bekaert clearly aspires to keep its impact on the environment as small as possible: we strive to use fewer materials, bring down our energy consumption and reduce waste.

Bekaert develops products that contribute to a cleaner environment. We manufacture photovoltaic backsheets and sawing wire to slice polysilicon ingots into wafers used in solar cells, we have introduced steel (instead of lead) wheel weights for more eco-friendly tire balancing and energy-saving window film for cars and buildings. In addition we offer biodegradable wire, ultra-tensile steel cord to reinforce tires, sintered metal fibers applied in stirling engines or in diesel particulate filters, and much more.

At the same time we are putting our concern for the environment into practice by developing new and eco-friendlier production processes at our plants worldwide.

Bekaert’s greenest steel cord plant

In October 2010 Bekaert inaugurated its greenest ever steel cord plant in Shenyang (Liaoning Province, China). Seizing the opportunity of the expansion of its steel cord activities in Shenyang, Bekaert pulled together the newest technologies for optimized energy conservation, reduced environmental impact and enhanced workspace comfort. Major improvements were realized in each of these three domains.

This ambitious project consolidated all of Bekaert’s previous, more scattered efforts in the field of energy consumption reduction by integrating them in one single plant. It challenged our whole organization to contribute to this ‘green’ initiative by generating new ideas. Many of these suggestions – totaling more than 140, big and small – were implemented. An improvement process is never finished. Bekaert continues, therefore, to focus on energy efficiency, waste and noise reduction, and improved material handling. Not only in our plant in Shenyang, but also in our other plants worldwide.

A global approach to ‘greener’ initiatives

2010 signified a new approach for Bekaert in dealing with energy issues. While, before, we would identify opportunities for energy improvement to then pursue them, we switched to examining the energy consumption of all equipment in a structured way and comparing it with the state-of-the-art, but also with emerging technologies.

This new approach allowed us, for example, to define projects for 2011 in which we will be incorporating technology in our designs.

Where infrastructure is concerned, we continued our efforts in the area of lighting. All of our U.S. wire plants, for example, were equipped with low-energy lighting systems in 2010. In several plants, we replaced old boilers with more energy-efficient equipment. In addition, we used the energy models designed during previous years to optimize the infrastructure design of our new plants.

As for production processes, we launched more energy-efficient process lines into production in 2010, achieving breakthrough savings for gas, steam and electricity consumption. Several retrofit initiatives were taken, focusing on low temperature heat recovery on process lines, the reduction of losses in machine drive trains, and new manufacturing processes on more energy-efficient machines.

Steering towards worldwide certification

Bekaert has incorporated a strong commitment towards the protection of the environment in its strategy for sustainable profitable growth. In 2009, therefore, it was decided that all production plants worldwide should be ISO 14001 certified. In 2010, again, we made further headway in the attainment of this goal.

Bekaert considers employee awareness and a better together spirit crucial in implementing and maintaining an effective, lean, continuously improving and environmentally friendly performance-based management system.

Our employees’ involvement makes them aware of what needs to be done to protect the environment; it empowers them to correct any infraction, and enables them to recommend continuous improvement opportunities.

Environmental awards and achievements that acknowledge our efforts

As a pilot case for the Group, Bekaert’s operations in Burgos (Spain) issued a Sustainability Report up to the standards of the Global Reporting Index (GRI) Reporting Framework. Certified by Bureau Veritas, the Sustainability Report was able to claim a GRI C+ level. With the report, Bekaert in Burgos, appeals to the voice of the stakeholders by monitoring its performance against a number of indicators that refer to our triple accountability (economical, environmental and social), as a reference to further optimize the dialogue and our efforts in these areas.

Our window films business in San Diego (U.S.) obtained in 2010 the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), reporting the full environmental impact of Solar Gard® and Panorama® architectural solar control films. Bekaert Specialty Films is one of only a handful of companies in the U.S. to have achieved this milestone. The EPD of Solar Gard® proves that the environmental impact of making its solar control window film – including raw material extraction, manufacturing, distribution to 90 countries worldwide and disposal – is offset by the positive impact of installing an energy saving window film, making it carbon-negative.

Our plant in Rogers (U.S.) was awarded the Pollution Prevention Excellence Award 2010 by the City of Rogers. It rewarded our efforts in the development, maintenance and improvement of the plant’s Pollution Prevention Plan.

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