Environmental management in Brazil

November 2015

Ditmar Nachtigal, Coatings Operations Director BASF South America, is happy about the successful outcome of the project “Demarchi + Ecoefficiente”.

The sustainability project at BASF’s production site for paints and coatings in São Bernardo do Campo in Brazil is one of the eleven case studies of pioneering projects recently presented in the report Guidance on Organizational Life Cycle Assessment promoted by the United Nations (UN).

The Organizational Life Cycle Assessment serves as a global guide for improving environmental performance in organizations. The project “Demarchi + Ecoeficiente” was successfully concluded in late 2014. The project objective was to analyze and improve processes at the site and align management according to aspects of eco-efficiency. The study was concluded in cooperation with the foundation Fundação Espaço ECO® (FEE®).

The project comprised two pillars. Firstly, approximately 1,200 employees and their families were made familiar with the topic of sustainability through training sessions, workshops and games. The goal was to implement sustainable actions both at work and at home.

Secondly, the entire organizational process was analyzed: “For many years BASF has been carrying out Eco-Efficiency Analyses of its products and processes. With Demarchi in São Bernardo do Campo, it was the first time that the company has analyzed an entire site,” said Ditmar Nachtigal, Coatings Operations Director BASF South America. “The in-depth analysis reproduces the entire value chain and helps us to evaluate and improve the contribution individual products and processes make to sustainability. It is a tool that gives us concrete data for decision making, considering economic and environmental data with its impacts and benefits.”

The “Demarchi + Ecoeficiente” initiative not only raised awareness about the topic of sustainability; it also identified potential for improvement with respect to energy costs, waste disposal, emissions and resource consumption.

For instance, recovering solvents can save some 700,000 Euros a year, while reusing waste generated in the coating production results in additional savings of 48,000 Euros.

In the production of automotive coatings, initiatives to reduce solvent consumption were put in place between 2012 and 2013. The Eco-Efficiency Analysis made it possible to measure the direct and indirect economic and environmental benefits. An estimated 6 million liters of water, the equivalent of around 3,200 water tanks with 2,000 liters each, was saved throughout the entire value chain. Another achievement was the reduction in energy consumption, totaling savings of 8 million mega joules. This energy can meet the demand of 874 four-person households for one year.

LCA for Organizations

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a systematic analysis of the environmental impact of products during their entire lifespan or up to a certain point in manufacturing. More recently, the entire value chain has been analyzed at the organizational level, because at this level too, decisions can have both positive and negative impacts on the environment. In this context, the Life Cycle Initiative, a joint endeavor of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry Society (SETAC), established the flagship project “LCA for Organizations” in order to study the potential uses and applicability of organizational LCA. The guidance document that has now been published is a core result of the project and can be downloaded online.