Why is it material?
The sustainable and optimal use of materials and natural resources throughout their life cycle is an important business opportunity and reflects our commitment to environmental protection.
Petroleum products – by-products that are characterized as waste (produced by our Group or by third parties) at a certain stage of their life cycle, constitute a major opportunity for us when reused as raw materials in our production facilities or recovered for use as a fuel according to our business approach towards a circular economy.
Constantly reducing the amount of waste for final disposal contributes significantly not only to minimizing impact on the environment and human health, but also toward substantially reducing our operating costs.
We adopt and implement circular economy principles in the design and implementation phases of our investment strategy through best practices and technologies across our product lifecycle, such as:
- reuse of water with the aim of reducing fresh water consumption and wastewater production.
- reduction of solid waste for landfill through investments in modern waste treatment plants and through synergies for further use by third parties, such as energy use of refinery oily waste by third parties or other waste as additives in their products.
- developing synergies to use waste by recovering energy and / or raw materials from the Group’s numerous activities, such as the re-refining of oily waste produced in its Fuel Marketing company’s facilities.
By applying Best Available Techniques to the production process and operating innovative waste treatment and recovery processes, we continue to recover significant amounts of oily waste for use as raw material at our refineries, while steadily reducing the percentage of material considered to be waste and therefore not of further use.
Our priority is to continuously increase the utilization rate of materials and natural resources throughout their life cycle by recycling and re-using them in our production process, as well as by developing broader synergies for their use. Our goal is to significantly reduce waste to final disposal-landfill (up to 15% by 2030).
Regarding wastewater and solid waste management, the overall effort to reduce waste production and maximize recycling continued in 2019 for all waste streams that it was feasible. For the remaining waste streams, the best possible on-site waste management practice was applied with regard to the environment and human health.
Advanced waste treatment facilities, such as the 3-stage wastewater treatment units in the Group’s refineries, ensure the continuous improvement of our performance as presented in detail in the diagrams below that show the comparison of the amounts of produced wastewater and solid waste produced in the last six years respectively. In accordance with the past five-year trend, improvement of the basic waste and wastewater indices also continued in 2019 throughout all the Group’s activities.
For wastewater specifically, there was a small decrease in the production of wastewater in comparison to the previous year as shown in the diagram below. Moreover, total water consumption remained at about the same levels as did its recycling and re-use rate, which was sustained at previous years’ high levels.
Wastewater per Group facility (2013-2019)
Water Consumption & Recycling – Reuse (2013-2019)
Solid Waste performance data (2013-2019)
Regarding solid waste, 2019 presented a 22% increase in the total treated quantity produced in relation to the previous year. Note that the largest percentage of solid waste quantities result from cleaning tanks, and therefore these quantities vary from year to year depending primarily on programmed tank maintenance and secondly on solid waste treatment unit’s availability (either in or outside the facility). Specifically in 2019, the largest increase was noted at the Elefsina refinery where a scheduled general maintenance shutdown took place and the Thessaloniki refinery in which increased quantities of hazardous waste were treated at the Bioremediation unit and finally disposed of as non-hazardous solid waste.
The diagram below presents various waste management methods of produced solid waste in 2019. As evidenced, 64% of the total waste is either re-used, recycled or used further through a raw material recovery process (this percentage is lower in comparison to the previous years due to the final disposal of the above mentioned waste.
Group Solid Waste by means of disposal
In addition to the industrial solid waste typical for the sector, efforts continue in order to recycle as many waste streams as possible, including paper, plastic, small or industrial-sized batteries, fluorescent lamps, electronic equipment, aluminum, etc., with active employee participation in all the Group’s facilities and offices. Specifically, in 2019 a model integrated municipal solid waste management system was implemented in the Aspropyrgos Industrial Complex where separation takes place at source for all waste streams -metal, plastic, batteries, paper, food residues and common waste. These are now collected in special bins placed everywhere around of the facility where there are workers. It is estimated that around 250 tons account for HELPE facilities’ municipal solid waste per year. The objective of the integrated management program is that, through the awareness and training of staff in best available recycling practices, this waste will be reduced by 75% to 65 tons.
Additionally, in order to support recycling battery waste on a national level, since 2018 Hellenic Fuels and Lubricants S.A. (EKO), receives used batteries from passenger vehicles and trucks in selected petrol stations of its network (with the EKO and BP trade marks) across Greece giving customers – consumers the opportunity to directly contribute to the recycling of this hazardous waste. Following the proper process for their collection, transport and recycling (which reaches 95% and approaches circular economy principles), the toxic substances they include are prevented from harming the environment from their disposal, but are used in production processes as useful raw material.
In particular, within one year, since the start of this incentive, 186 batteries were collected from 12 service stations, weighing 1921 kg. Based on these results, the action was extended to more petrol stations throughout Greece. The initiative to collect used vehicle batterie sat EKO’s selected service stations is called “Green Spots” and is based on a mutually beneficial synergy – according to circular economy principles- with Sunlight Recycling’s environmental management and recycling system incentive named “Green Mission”. For more information on the list of selected “Green Spot” service stations participating in the collection of used batteries visit: www.greenmission.gr/green-spots.
Especially for the Group’s refining activity, the percentage of oil waste recovered and returned to the production process as a raw material for re-refining is also monitored. These quantities of waste come from both the production process and third parties. The table below shows the recovered quantities and percentages (of total throughput) from the three Group refineries, while it is worth noting that over the past six years, over 1 million tons of oil waste have been re-refined.
In addition to quantitative waste data and in the context of implementing Directive 2010/75/ EU (IED) and Best Available Techniques – BAT (Reference Document for the Refining of Mineral Oil and Gas – Decision 2014/738/EU) for the refining sector, the Group refineries have completed the relevant investments in technical infrastructure required to measure and monitor the new Hydrocarbon Oil Index (HOI), which was assessed as being representative for the refinery industry and included in the referenced report on Best Available Techniques.
In December 2019, the HOI index was included in the new Environmental Operating Permit for the Aspropyrgos refinery and first measurements indicate much lower levels than Best Available Techniques’ limit value. The overall evaluation based on the HOI index is expected to be complete after the new Environmental Permit conditions have been issued for the Elefsina and Thessaloniki refineries.
Further performance improvement with regard to the monitored quantitative and qualitative indicators as well as compliance with the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) and the new limits according to the Conclusions of Best Available Techniques for Petroleum Refining (REF BAT Conclusions Decision).