Emissions to Air and to Water

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Air emissions

We minimise air emissions through a variety of technologies and practices. Our priorities are to avoid pollutants, reduce quantities of pollutants and control remaining pollutant emissions in line with our eco-balance goals. Our overall objective is to keep emissions to the low levels we have achieved in recent years.

Lowering greenhouse gas emissions

The majority of greenhouse gases emitted by the Roche Group come from energy generation and consist, for the most part, of CO2. Less than 1% is halogenated hydrocarbons from refrigeration and cooling plants.

As the majority of our GHG emissions originate from the transformation and use of energy, our goal for improving energy efficiency also applies to GHG emissions, i.e. a 20% reduction, measured in tonnes per employee by 2020 from 2010 levels. We do not favour the use of carbon offset as an alternative to driving our own efforts to reduce emissions. We expect to achieve further reductions by substituting fossil fuels with energy from sustainable sources.

our position on greenhouse gases/climate change

Reducing other atmospheric contaminants

One key way to reduce emissions to air is to use flue gas scrubbers to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). We also use various incineration and freezing processes to reduce the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from waste air.

To reduce VOCs, we use closed systems or suitable exhaust-air treatments, such as filters, various air incinerations or condensation processes. The function of the incinerators is to oxidise completely the VOCs and combustible particulates.

If the combustion is complete, the organic materials in the exhaust gases will have reacted chemically with oxygen to form nontoxic products, such as carbon dioxide and water vapour. We use the energy produced during combustion to generate steam for heating.

Halogenated hydrocarbons

Halogenated hydrocarbons which contain chlorine, for example chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) also damage the ozone layer.

A Group directive on the progressive phasing out of CFCs and HCFCs was therefore set up which committed to their elimination from cooling and fire extinguishing systems by 2010. However, several projects to replace HCFCs in refrigeration units have been delayed due to the lack of accepted alternatives in some countries, or through the acquisition of new operations. These operations are working towards separate timelines to achieve our goals.

Halogenated hydrocarbons which contain fluorine, for example, hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) and perfluorinated carbons (PFC) that are often used as replacements for HCFCs and CFCs, do not affect the ozone layer. However, they have a considerable global warming potential and are persistent. We do not consider them to be a suitable long-term alternative and we aim to phase out these compounds by 2015.

Water emissions

We only discharge wastewater and pollutants if they comply fully with relevant regulations, including pre-treatment requirements. At above 90%, the elimination rates in our wastewater treatment plants are already high.

Over half of the water we draw is used in cooling circuits. As this water is not chemically contaminated, we discharge it after analysis. We purify the rest in treatment plants before releasing it to waterways.

Reducing water contamination

We record organic emissions into water as total organic carbon (TOC) after processing in a wastewater treatment plant. We seek to further lessen contamination of water by:

  • reducing discharges of toxic and poorly biodegradable substances and heavy metals
  • reducing the generation of wastewater
  • treating or pre-treating wastewater, with ozone in some cases, for non- or poorly degradable contaminants

Roche’s emissions of heavy metals fluctuate around a very low level. The total load consists primarily of zinc, copper and chromium leached out of piping by wastewater. We do not discharge into wastewater any toxicologically significant metals, like cadmium or mercury.

Since 1992, we have reduced by 98.5% TOC emissions to water, measured in metric tons per CHF 1 million of sales.