The ACC judging panel, comprised of external sustainability leaders from consumer products, nonprofit and consulting sectors, chose winning initiatives based on a range of factors including the level of innovation the initiative demonstrated, the scope and reach of its impacts and the extent to which it addresses priorities outlined in ACC’s Sustainability Principles and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Ashland’s Benecel MX modified cellulose won the award for sustainably addressing the growing popularity of plant-based foods and meat alternatives. Ashland’s Benecel MX manufacturing site in Belgium decreased the environmental impacts of its operations through initiatives that have helped reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and conserve water.
“The manufacturing processes for Benecel requires a significant amount of steam,” said Keith Silverman, senior vice president, global operations, quality and environmental, health and safety, Ashland. “Instead of burning gas to generate steam on-site and adding an environmental burden, Ashland’s solvers worked with a neighboring facility that produces a large amount of surplus steam through its waste incinerator processes to create a steam network that has resulted in reduction of burned gas and fewer emissions to the environment.”
Overall, the project will provide a GHG reduction equivalent to the energy from 50 windmills, helping Ashland meet one of the company’s 2020 environmental goals, a 10 percent GHG emissions reduction.
The Ashland facility also generates wastewater with high salt content, which must undergo on-site biological treatment before being released into the local river. Ashland set an agreement with an adjacent site to receive their rainwater and water drainage and added these new water sources to its on-site rainwater collection points to help treat salty wastewater streams. The amount of water sourced this way is estimated at 64,000 cubic meters per year, equivalent to 26 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
“The chemical industry plays a critical role in addressing and solving global sustainability challenges being faced by society,” said Chris Jahn, president and chief executive officer, the American Chemistry Council. “ACC is proud to recognize Ashland with the 2020 Sustainability Leadership award for their work to advance solutions to feed a growing global population, while also implementing innovative manufacturing processes that embrace circular practices.”