Minimizing our impact on the environment

Minimizing our impact

Use fewer materials, bring down our energy consumption level and reduce our waste production; these are Bekaert’s ambitions in order to keep its impact on the environment as small as possible. Bekaert develops products that contribute to a cleaner environment: for example, our sawing wire for solar cells, steel (instead of lead) weights for wheel balancing, biodegradable wire coatings, ultra-tensile steel cord to reinforce tires, sintered or welded fibers that go in diesel particulate filters, etc. At the same time we are putting our concern for the environment into practice by developing new and eco-friendlier ways of producing at our plants.

minimizing our impact

In 2009, Bekaert took up its role of a globally sustainable corporation by:

  • Investing over € 2 million in energysaving measures at our wire and steel cord plants;
  • Hosting 13 governmental and diplomatic delegations at the Bekaert Group Headquarters in Belgium throughout 2009. A larger number of delegations were hosted at corporate and local events.

Global certification: a clear commitment to the environment

At the onset of 2009 we structurally addressed the certification issue at our production plants. Our aim is to have all of them ISO 14001 certified by year-end 2011. The identification of our significant environmental aspects and impacts served as the foundation for the global implementation of the ISO 14001 standardization. In support of this process we launched several training initiatives. Both the certificated and its implementation are running according to plan.

Process renewal driven by the need for energy reduction

As we have done in the previous years, we undertook several initiatives in order to reduce energy consumption at our steel cord and wire factories. To reduce insidious energy losses at our production plants we frequently perform checks of our infrastructure. In addition, we launched several focused projects aimed at lowering energy consumption. For our new steel cord and wire plants we are drawing up new specifications – in concordance with tougher technical standards, specific process demands and energy consumption – for state-of-the-art, energy-efficient lighting systems. This will also allow us to optimally implement retrofit lighting projects at our existing plants. We also thoroughly studied the energy-saving possibilities of the cooling and ventilation systems of our machinery. And we looked into the effect of harmonics on the power-quality ratio and the energy-saving potential connected therewith.

Green Action Plan further implemented

As for our efforts in the area of process improvement, we further implemented the Bekaert ‘Green 2007 Action Plan’ to attain energy reduction in both retrofit projects and the installation of new machines and process lines. Parallel to the already defined projects we launched, in 2009, several new energy-saving initiatives, such as an in-depth study of a wide range of process- and machine parameters on the energy consumption of the post-drawing treatments and retrofit adjustments to existing coating- and patenting lines (e.g. power reduction and heat recuperation).

For example, at the Hlohovec (Slovakia) plant we replaced a central boiler installation by several high-performance steam boilers and installed a waste heat recovery system on one of the wire coating lines. At the steel cord plants we also continued the process of switching from direct current to alternating current for the machinery. And we aerodynamically redesigned fast, rotating machine parts in the bunching machines. We were able to implement these projects thanks to a specially allocated energy-saving budget of over € 2 million.

planning implementation

Bekaert actively considers green energy for its production sites. We are therefore – in partnership with Electrabel, the largest energy provider in the Benelux – currently studying the possibilities of on-site power generation at our production sites. Provided that the necessary permits are obtained, we will launch a wind turbine power generation project at our site in Zwevegem (Belgium) and thus generate our own green electricity. The goal is to develop similar plans for our other plants around the globe.

We also turned our attention to staff training and raising awareness in the field of energy-saving. Examples of this are the training sessions focusing on energy theory and measurement, and the rolling-out of a total energy cost model and an ‘Energetic Excellence Program’ in parallel with our ‘Operational Excellence Program’.

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