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BEWI: A Pioneer in Reducing Chemical Emissions

BEWI has for decades reduced chemical emissions in one of Finland’s largest industrial clusters. The company has collected washing water from ships’ cargo tanks in Kilpilahti, Porvoo, since 1985, purifying it from styrene.

BEWI is a leading, international provider of packaging, components, and insulation solutions, listed at Oslo Børs. The group’s raw division develops and produces polystyrene raw materials for use in end products, such as fish boxes or insulation boards for the construction sector. The company focuses on incorporating environmental values into its operations through concrete actions. In addition to circular economy solutions, BEWI has excelled in reducing chemical emissions in Kilpilahti. This work has been ongoing in the area for almost 40 years.

– It is important for BEWI to take comprehensive responsibility across our value chain, says Production Director of BEWI’s raw facility in Porvoo, Arto Manninen. – A great example of this is the treatment of the washing waters, contributing to reduce emissions into the Baltic Sea.

BEWI’s styrene collection is also an example of great cooperation among chemical industry companies. Styrene is brought to BEWI in Porvoo by ship through Neste’s Sköldvik port.

– Neste’s port personnel assists in the work, Manninen acknowledges. – This process would not be possible without their contribution.

The cargo tanks are washed with water pumped into a tank trailer at the port. The pumped styrene is treated at the wastewater treatment plant, which is part of BEWI’s chemical facility. The tank trailer is emptied into a vertical tank, and the styrene is separated from the wash water with very simple technical arrangements. Styrene has a lower density than water and floats on the surface of the tank. The separated water in the tank is emptied into the wastewater treatment plant, and the styrene remaining in the tanks is emptied into containers and utilized as a raw material in the production process of expandable polystyrene.

Current legislation allows discharge of wash water into the Baltic Sea. BEWI collaborates with the John Nurminen Foundation to share its practices with other styrene users.

– We handle the wash waters of tens of styrene ships annually, Manninen explains. – If wash waters were pumped into the sea, it would equate to hundreds of years of discharge per single ship, compared to the discharge from our wastewater treatment plant. The treatment process is very simple and can be replicated for other similar operators or other chemicals if needed.

At BEWI, environmental actions are part of everyday life. By being vertically integrated, the company can control a circular loop: BEWI in Porvoo manufactures EPS (expanded polystyrene) raw material, used in the production of EPS fish boxes in the company’s facilities in Norway. Fish is delivered in these boxes to Poland for further processing. The used boxes are washed, compacted, and granulated. The granulate is then delivered to BEWI in Porvoo, where it’s recycled into new raw material.