Environment |    Industry requirements |    Carbon footprint |    Environmentally-friendly products

Carbon footprint

Metair measures the carbon footprint of its nine South African subsidiaries.

The group’s total carbon footprint decreased 0.3% to 563 120 tCO2e in 2015 (2014: 564 555 tCO2e). While Scope 1 (direct emissions) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions from electricity) emissions decreased, Scope 3 emissions increased 1.6%. Emissions embedded in raw materials accounted for 58% of the group’s total carbon footprint and electricity for 26%.

The manufacture of batteries in our energy storage segment consumes carbon dense materials and is very energy intensive. First National Battery has operations spread over a relatively wide area, so downstream logistical costs are higher too. Together, the three battery manufacturing operations – First National Battery, Rombat and Mutlu Akü – contribute 72% of the group’s carbon footprint.

Nearly 90% of the group’s carbon footprint is attributable to the consumption of raw materials, electricity and stationary fuels. Our focus on improving manufacturing efficiencies (including energy use) and reducing waste is therefore our best way of managing our carbon footprint.

Due to competitive concerns, carbon footprint and energy consumption were previously not publically reported. Metair has therefore not prepared a CDP report, but may consider doing so in the future.

Waste management

We aim to minimise waste from production processes as an important aspect of improving production efficiency and sustaining manufacturing excellence. Scrap reduction targets are set at each subsidiary for primary and secondary materials. We track yield on lead recycling and plastic recycling percentage as measurement criteria for waste management.

Waste is reused or recycled where possible, with the remainder being separated into waste streams at most operations. Waste is disposed of in a responsible manner and according to the relevant legislation. Hazardous waste is disposed of using registered disposal companies.

During 2015, First National Battery changed the Barium effluent treatment process at the Benoni facility, cutting out the need for carbon dioxide in the process, reducing the quantity of disposable waste solids, improving the quality of effluent and generating significant savings.

The group recycled 51% of its non-hazardous waste (5 999 tonnes) in 2015 (2014: 4 470 tonnes) mainly in the form of plastic, cardboard and metal. We also recycled 58 098 litres of used oil during the year.

Batteries and recycling
Car batteries are nearly 100% recyclable and First National Battery, Rombat and Mutlu Akü all have recycling plants. Battery acid is neutralised and processed through an effluent plant. Plastic from the casing is processed into pellets which go to make new battery casings. Battery plates, terminals and other extracted lead are refined and blended to produce high-quality lead alloys for new batteries.

Recycling batteries removes potentially harmful substances from the environment – particularly plastic, lead and acid. It is also cheaper to access recycled lead, although at the current low lead price the benefit is diminished. Recycling lead also saves energy and reduces emissions as it uses around a third of the energy needed to produce virgin lead from ore.

Our goal as a battery manufacturer is to take more lead out of the environment than we put into it and dispose of the other components of a battery in a responsible way. We incentivise customers to return old batteries when buying new ones.

The group recycled nearly 70 000 tonnes of lead in 2015.

Water

Water consumption is calculated from municipal meter readings, corroborated by readings from internal meters where these are installed. The group withdrew 587 363m3 of water in 2015 from municipal sources, an increase of 11% on 2014 (530 386m3). Group water consumption per person hour worked increased 5.5% to 35.6 litres (2014: 33.6).

Battery manufacturing uses a lot of water and the three battery operations together account for 71% of group consumption.
The increasing risk to business of poor quality or interrupted water supply was highlighted during the year by water supply disruptions in Stanger and Pinetown that affected production at Hesto and Unitrade. A water tanker was placed on site at Hesto to address the supply interruption.

Various water saving initiatives are in place at operations including:

  • Rainwater collection tanks at First National Battery’s Fort Jackson and Buffalo View facilities, which supply cooling towers, battery washing machines and toilets.
  • Smiths Manufacturing installed a reverse osmosis water purification plant to recycle and recover 90% of the water used in the wet fluxing and evaporation coating processes.
  • upreme has installed meters in paint lines to monitor water consumption and enforce reduction in water usage.
  • Lumotech has installed two water tanks to hold effluent water from the spraying process for reuse.
    Metair does not currently participate in the CDP water programme.