Environment

Environmental responsibility

Environmental aspects are a priority for Exel Composites and the company is committed to minimizing the environmental impact of its own operations as well as to making products that contribute to decreasing its customers’ environmental footprint. Sustainability is a global megatrend that brings new business opportunities in the long-term in all Exel’s customer segments and market areas.
Exel Composites’ Quality, Environmental, Health and Safety (QEHS) Policy [1], Chemical Policy as well as the group Code of Conduct guide the company’s measures related to quality and environmental impact. The company’s operations are governed by national environmental permits and complies with the requirements of the standards ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. The group management as well as the group's Austrian, Belgian, British, Chinese (excluding Nanjing Jianhui, which was most recently acquired in April 2017), German and Finnish units have an ISO 14001 environmental certificate. The company’s long-term target is to have all Group units certified. Exel Composites plays a leading role in industry associations such as EuCIA, European Composites Industry Association. This ensures the company is updated on the latest developments in environmental matters including advances in environmental technology and new regulatory measures.

Exel Composites’ environmental risks are assessed as part of an overall group-wide quality management system. Environmental risks are also assessed on factory level during inspections and controls conducted by national authorities and certification audits. According to Exel Composites’ risk assessment, fires, emissions or chemical leakages into the water or ground present the biggest environmental risks. These risks are mitigated through pre-emptive safety measures, such as regular employee trainings, safety equipment and gear, sprinkler systems as well as safe storing of risky chemicals.

Responsible products

Customers are at the center of all Exel Composites’ business decisions. Designing, producing and selling a product that does not meet the agreed requirements could have negative impact on the company reputation. Exel is committed to providing them with safe and reliable products that contribute to sustainable development and help improve the environmental footprint of the end product. Ensuring the safety of all chemicals used in its products is a priority for Exel Composites. Many of the company’s key customers also require Exel to comply with their Supplier Code of Conducts and audit Exel against their quality and safety requirements.

Exel Composites’ products are mostly tailored according to customer requirements and developed “on-demand” in close cooperation and constant dialogue with customers. Optimized requirements translate into optimized use of materials. Typically Exel’s products are composites reinforced with either glass or carbon fibers, however, an increasing amount of natural fibers are also used. The decision concerning technology as well as on the materials used can significantly improve the environmental footprint of the end product, not only in the manufacturing phase, but also across the rest of its lifecycle.

Composites can replace traditional building materials such as steel, aluminum and concrete or add to their value when combined in a hybrid solution. Composites are much lighter than metals and therefore, in comparison to alternative materials, can result in lower installation and maintenance costs, easier handling, lower fuel and energy consumption over their lifecycle. Furthermore, composites are durable and non-corrosive with a long life span, which reduces the amount of energy intensive maintenance and the need for replacement. Exel’s products are also used in sustainability enhancing technologies and solutions, such as wind energy and electric cars, among other.

Developing a reliable lifecycle assessment (LCA) method for composite products covering the whole lifecycle of a product is challenging as composites are often part of an end product. In 2017 Exel Composites actively participated in a EuCIA project that aims to develop a tool to help calculating the environmental impact of ‘cradle to gate’, i.e. the production phase of composite products’ lifecycle. The first version the “EcoCalculator” was launched in 2017 and development continues in 2018.

Responsible operations

The company actively measures its energy use and takes measures to reduce consumption through improvements in operational efficiency and using heat recovering air exchange equipment, heat pumps, LED lighting and inverter controlled drives, where applicable. Exel Composites has also invested in a bio-fuel (pellet) operated district heating unit at the Joensuu site in Finland, which is the company’s biggest production site. In 2017 the total use of energy decreased by 3.1% and was 18.7 mWh (19.3). The company’s energy use in proportion to production decreased by 15.0% [2]. The company’s largest production sites are situated in Northern locations, which is why heating has a major impact in the company’s total energy use. Exel’s long term target is to reduce its total use of energy.

Carbon dioxide formed in own use of fuels, transportation of materials and external power production represents most of Exel’s greenhouse gas emissions. Being a fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) manufacturer also entails emitting volatile organic compounds (VOC). Exel monitors and conducts tests on its VOC emissions, such as styrene, and invests in reducing them. The company has installed a bio-filter in Voerde, Germany, and in 2016 invested also in pilot bio-trickling filtration in Oudenaarde, Belgium.
As part of the regular production process, a certain amount of composite waste is inevitably generated. As Exel Composites produces products directly to customer needs, the amount of loss is highly dependent on the product mix and is therefore highly volatile. Exel has a waste management plan and continuously monitors the amounts of waste produced. The company is committed to re-using composite waste and where logistically possible, composite waste goes to recycling. In 2017 64.2% of all waste was recycled or re-used for energy. Exel is an active participant in programs to develop composite recycling where it is currently not possible, as well as an end-user of existing composite recycling solutions like CompoCycle. In 2017 the total amount of composites waste used in proportion to our production decreased 26.8% from last year [3].

Production KPI's*


* Figures include production sites that have been operational as part of Exel Composites Group during all of 2017, i.e. excluding Nanjing Jianhui, which was acquired in April 2017, and the Australian unit, where operations were significantly downsized and ceased by the end of 2017.

 

Reference to metrics in Nasdaq ESG Reporting Guide:

[1] Nasdaq E9 – Environmental policy
[2] Nasdaq E3 – Direct & Indirect Energy Consumption
[3] Nasdaq E8 – Waste Management

Exel Composites Oyj, Vantaa head office, Mäkituvantie 5, FI-01510 Vantaa, Finland