Waste management

With the expansion of Elkem to include the chemical production of silicones from silicon, the characteristics of our waste streams have changed.

Our EHS management policy, covering waste management, covers all our units. The policy includes having an environmental program covering the following topics regardless of activity level and risk:

  • Energy and resource utilisation
  • Environmental impact through emissions to air and discharge to water
  • Waste reduction and waste management

Our goal is to reduce generation of waste with Elkem Business System (EBS) tools and process control. We aim to consider all raw material and process waste as by-products that can be reused or sold. Some examples of what this looks like is:

  • Reduced generation of fines in raw material, intermediate and finished goods handling
  • Briquetting of fines to enable re-use / sale
  • Better process control to improve production recovery

From our traditional smelting activities waste consists mainly of non-hazardous inorganic materials such as slag, product fines, quartz fines and a smaller quantity of organic fines from wood-chips and charcoal. For all of these, extensive projects have been initiated to re-cycle and re-use instead of depositing in landfills. Many of these have been very successful by both creating new products and by better utilisation of raw materials.

For silicones, there is a higher content of organic waste and hazardous waste from the different production processes. Hazardous waste is mainly managed by certified external suppliers, while other waste will either be incinerated or landfilled. Many projects have also been initiated here to reduce waste at its source and to regenerate chemicals for re-use instead of destroying or depositing them.

In 2017, Elkem included waste to landfill as a monthly corporate performance indicator. A common platform for categorisation of different components and disposal methods made it possible to agglomerate global waste data from 2018 onwards. Several plants have a zero waste to deposit target and have accomplished significant reductions over the last years. Waste to landfill in 2019 was 333,300 tonnes. About 3,565 tonnes of this was hazardous waste and has been managed in accordance with local public regulations.

There were no significant spills, defined as spills that have a lasting environmental impact in 2019.

Waste to landfill

  2018 2019
Waste to landfill, tonnes 195,000 tonnes 333,000 tonnes
Hazardous waste 1,300 tonnes 3,565 tonnes