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The Warsaw Voice » Business » May 7, 2008
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Image Overhaul for Chemical Industry
May 7, 2008   
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Paweł Jarczewski, president of Zakłady Azotowe Puławy SA, talks to Hanna Smolańska.

In 1995, Zakłady Azotowe Puławy was the fifth chemical works in Poland to join the global Responsible Care program. The program is supervised by the Polish Chamber of the Chemical Industry in this country. Was the company's decision to join the program aimed at continuing the efforts the Puławy chemical works had started 10 years earlier to minimize its environmental impact?
The program was yet another voluntary initiative taken by the company. We have a tradition of anticipating new environmental regulations and taking action before they actually come into force. As early as the 1980s, when environmental protection first emerged as a subject of public debate, we adopted a comprehensive action plan for the years 1985-2000 and beyond. The plan included projects aimed strictly at environmental protection, like the construction of one of the largest nitrogen oxide reduction facilities and a biological sewage treatment plant. It also involved thorough modernization of our carbamide production lines.

By the time we joined the Responsible Care program, a global initiative of the chemical industry, the state of the environment within our factory compound and in its vicinity had already improved markedly. We had also launched the production of hydrogen peroxide, which crowded out chlorine-a substance unfriendly to the environment-from the market. Our newest addition to the line of environment-friendly products is AdBlue. It is used as a reducing agent in cars with diesel engines using the process of selective catalytic reduction (SCR). AdBlue is injected into the SCR catalytic converter in a diesel engine to convert harmful pollutants in exhaust gases-substances that cause smog and acid rains-into nitrogen and water. Car makers started to use the SCR system after the EU had announced its new emissions standards-Euro IV and Euro V. The first came into force in 2006, the other will become effective in 2009.

Many years have passed since you joined the program and the results are remarkable in many spheres. What has changed? What indicators suggest that environmental quality has improved?
First of all, we are no longer blamed for causing harm to the environment. In the 1990s, we were crossed off the list of Polish companies regarded as constituting the greatest hazard to the environment. Although the volume of production has risen by over 75 percent, the company has sharply cut its emission and waste levels, and reduced its use of environmental resources. For example, the consumption of underground water has been reduced by 60 percent. We work with the local forest district office on a program of afforestation and research in the surrounding forests. We are happy that the forests in the vicinity of our works provide a habitat for dozens of rare bird species.

These investment projects have required huge spending. Which of them have been most important in terms of environmental protection?
I have already mentioned some of them, but there are other projects worth mentioning as well-first of all those carried out in our combined heat-and-power plant. The recent modernization of electrostatic precipitators in the plant's boilers has been partially funded from the EU budget under the Enhancing Business Competitiveness Sectoral Operational Program. Thanks to these measures we have been able to adapt to the new emissions norms which came into force Jan. 1, 2008. We have also done a lot to reduce the consumption of coal burned in the plant. This reduction has been possible thanks to the construction of a new carbamide production plant and a facility to utilize waste heat in our ammonia plant. The projects have helped us reduce coal consumption by 120,000 and 30,000 metric tons a year respectively. We have also built a facility to utilize sulfur compounds in our plant producing sulfuric acid. As a result, our emissions of sulfur dioxide, sulfur trioxide and sulfuric acid mist have been cut by over 98 percent.

Many organizational and management systems have been introduced to improve environmental safety and management. What are these systems?
We are one of the first companies in Poland and in Europe to have received an integrated permit. Under the EU's IPPC directive, an integrated permit takes into account all aspects related to environmental safety and protection. We have implemented an integrated quality, environment and safety management system in compliance with the ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001:1996 and PN-N 18001:2004 standards. We are now implementing an environmental management system according to the new PN-EN ISO 14001:2005 norm. We have developed and introduced procedures to ensure the total management of waste and packaging arising in production and auxiliary processes.

Can the residents of Puławy, the town where the factory is based, and your customers already feel the difference? Are they eager to take part in your company's environmental campaigns?
In the long run, the changes are radical and evident. We are a chemical company, but we eagerly invite people to visit our plant because we have reasons to be proud. Our environmental and educational campaigns are targeted mostly at children and young people because the future image of the chemical industry will depend on their attitude to environmental protection. We work with the authorities coordinating the Responsible Care program, and interest in our campaigns targeted at schoolchildren is growing every year.

What are your plans for the near future?
At present, our most important environmental protection project involves flue gas desulfuring. We have already completed a tender for the construction of this installation, which is to treat emissions from all boilers in our combined heat-and-power plant. Another large project involves the construction of a modern facility for the reduction of dinitrogen monoxide. Dinitrogen monoxide is a greenhouse gas. Thanks to this facility, we will be able to substantially reduce dinitrogen monoxide emissions, something that may generate considerable revenues for the company from the sale of emissions rights. Another important task we are facing is to optimize costs incurred to supply electricity to our facilities. We are making preparations to apply for certificates of origin that will certify that our electricity is co-generated, or generated simultaneously, with heat. Such certificates can be traded and can provide additional receipts for the company. We will also continue our activities under the Responsible Care program.

Your company has received a number of awards and medals for its environmental protection efforts. How would you encourage other companies to join the Responsible Care program?
One cannot really encourage someone to take voluntary measures. But we can serve as an example to others. Participation in the program must come naturally as part of a company's strategy and as a result of the attitude of its staff and the approach of the whole organization. When these things work well it is easy to make declarations related to the program and take pride in the program's outcomes.
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