BASF reports mixed environmental results

Chemical firm slashes Ludwigshafen nitrous oxide emissions, water pollution jumps

Germany-based chemical major BASF has reduced emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide by 95% at its Ludwigshafen site, according to the firm's 1997 corporate environmental report. The report also shows significant decreases in the company's international emissions of air pollutants, but a big increase in releases of water pollutants.

BASF pledged in 1996 to cut emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) from adipic acid production at Ludwigshafen by 95% by 2000. N2O is one of the three main greenhouse gases worldwide and German industry N2O emissions account for 3% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions. According to the German environment ministry, BASF's success is a "big achievement" and has single-handedly reduced national global warming potential by 1 percentage point.

Ludwigshafen's N2O emissions are now being controlled through catalytic decomposition. Other adipic acid manufacturers are looking for similar reductions - for example, US-based Du Pont has recently begun using a thermal recovery system at a manufacturing site in the UK, which it says puts the company on course to eliminate its N2O emissions worldwide. Adipic acid is a key intermediate in nylon manufacture, and BASF belongs to a collaborative group of nylon producers that share information on N2O reduction strategies.

BASF's environment report shows a total DM33m (Ecu17m) invested in environmental protection world-wide in 1997, which is about the same as 1996 spending but just under half of environmental investment in both 1995 and 1994. BASF is one of the world's largest chemical companies, with plants in 39 countries. Ludwigshafen, its main site, is one of the largest world-wide, covering over seven square kilometres and employing more than 40,000 workers.

The report shows continued improvements in BASF's air emissions, with an approximate 16% cut in carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds in 1997, as well as a 22% reduction in NOx. However, water emissions show big increases. The report shows that chemical oxygen demand up 17.5% in 1997.

The report also presents statistics on its global activities and includes examples of new environmental protection technologies in use at its different sites. Emissions of over 70 different air pollutants are shown individually, a feature of the report which last year won BASF praise in a UN-sponsored survey of corporate environmental reporting.

Follow Up:
BASF, tel: +49 621 600.

Please sign in to access this article. To subscribe, view our subscription options, or take out a free trial.

Please enter your details

Forgotten password?

Having trouble signing in?

Contact Customer Support at
or call 020 8267 8120

Not a subscriber?

Take a free trial now to discover the critical insights and updates our coverage offers subscribers.