January 19, 2004

Chemical producers continue to reduce overall facility emissions

Member companies of the Canadian Chemical Producers' Association (CCPA) achieved a 7% reduction in overall emissions (excluding carbon dioxide) in 2002 from 2001 levels, maintaining a decade-long record of declining emissions in the context of significant increases in production over the same period.

The CCPA's latest (eleventh) Reducing Emissions report notes that since the first year of reporting in 1992, emissions have declined 72%, or 188,000 tonnes. Although chemical production dropped slightly (1%) in 2002, it was still 30% higher than in 1992, notes the report. Emissions per unit of product are also down by as much as 78% since 1992. The CCPA estimates that by 2007, emissions per unit of output will have decreased by 81% compared to 1992.

A notable success for the industry has been the virtual elimination of emissions to water: the total for 2002 was a mere 378 tonnes, representing a 99.7% reduction since 1992. Loadings of sulfuric acid to water have been virtually eliminated as well, a reduction of more than 115,000 since 1992. Releases of metals to water increased in 2002, however, by 49% over 2001, although the total reduction since 1992 is 72%.

The CCPA reports that emissions to air now account for nearly 99% of all national emissions, excluding carbon dioxide (CO2). A decrease of 6,500 tonnes was recorded in 2002, 43% below 1992 levels. At the same time, however, there was a 12% increase over 2001 levels in emissions of common air contaminants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides (CO, SOX, NOX); the report notes that improved emission estimation methods account for some of this increase.

CO, SOX and NOX together made up 68% of total air emissions in 2002; despite an increase over 2001 levels, these emissions have been reduced by 12% (6,800 tonnes) since 1992.

Emissions of CO2 were 2% higher in 2002 than in 2001 and have risen by 9% since 1992, although greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of output have declined by 23% over the decade. The latter figure reflects improvements in energy efficiency and changes in the energy intensity of members' operations during this period. The report's section on Climate Change points out that the chemical sector accounts for less than 2% of Canada' overall GHG emissions (as of 2001), and notes that some of the increase in CO2 emissions comes from CCPA members' cogeneration facilities and biomass combustion.

Emissions of methane, a highly potent GHG, declined by 56% in 2002, sharply reversing a rising trend in these emissions prior to 1997. A 55% increase in nitrous oxide emissions over 2001 levels was almost entirely attributable to maintenance activities at a single facility.

Projections for CO2 and other GHG emissions over the next five years estimate a 12% increase in total CO2 emissions by 2007 compared to 1992, while methane emissions are forecast to drop by 72% from 1992 levels. A reduction of 5% in nitrous oxide emissions expected by 2007 will bring the total reduction from 1992 to 88%.

Reductions in emissions of other compounds were achieved as well. Releases of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to all media decreased by 18% from 2001, for a total reduction of 59% since 1992. NOX emissions were down as well in 2002, 13% from 2001 levels and 23% from 1992.

CCPA member companies reduced total emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) by 46 tonnes, or 9%, in 2002. ODS releases have declined by 57% since 1992, notes the report. Emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs, a replacement for CFCs) have been reduced by over 99% and by 38%, respectively, since 1992.

Member companies generated a total of 90,000 tonnes of hazardous waste in 2002, a 43% increase over 2001. This, says the report, was entirely due to non-routine releases associated with site remediation activities by one facility. Total releases of 49,677 tonnes of routine hazardous waste in 2002 represented an 11% decline from 2001, while the 40,471 tonnes of non-routine hazardous waste includes the 33,191 tonnes generated as a one-time occurrence.

The report projects a 5% increase in routine hazardous waste generation by 2007, although this will represent an almost 1% decrease from amounts reported in 2001. Non-routine hazardous waste generation is projected at around 35,000 tonnes for 2003 due to continuing remedial work at one facility; this will subsequently drop to 3,000 tonnes in 2004 through to 2007, says the CCPA.

Non-hazardous waste quantities generated in 2002 totalled 355,000 tonnes, up 11% from 2001due to higher generation of these wastes at one facility which accounted for 20% of the total. The amount of non-hazardous waste reported by this facility, while higher than in 2001, was still 67% less than reported in 2000. Nearly 96% of non-hazardous waste reported in 2002 was generated from routine sources and includes various types of packaging, paper, metal, sludge, wood and plastic. The remaining 4% arose from non-routine site remediation and construction and demolition activities. Of the total, 65% was sent to secure landfills and 33% was sent to storage.

Generation of routine non-hazardous waste is forecast to increase by 20% by 2007, compared to 2002 quantities, mainly due to an increase in this waste at one facility expected between 2004 and 2007.

Hazardous recoverable materials generation increased by 79% in 2002 over 2001 levels, again due to non-routine site remediation at one facility. Routine hazardous recoverables made up 44% of the total, decreasing 24% from 2001. Non-hazardous recoverables, totalling 101,000 tonnes, increased 3% over 2001, with routine non-hazardous recoverables making up 90% of the total. The majority of both hazardous and non-hazardous recoverables are sent for material recovery.

The 11th Reducing Emissions report may be viewed on the CCPA Web site, www.ccpa.ca.

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