Air pollution is one of the problems directly linked to rapid industrialisation and urbanisation that is severely impacting human health. According to the International Energy Agency1, combustion of coal and oil are major source of air pollution with combustion of coal being responsible for majority of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) emissions. Further, vehicular exhaust emissions contribute more than half of the global Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions. Both SO2 and NOx forms secondary pollutants leading to respiratory problems.
Industrial and vehicular emissions are the top causes of air pollution in India. Advancement in processes and air pollution control equipment, and use of alternate sources of energy contributes to reduction in industrial air emissions. Vehicular emissions are, however, steadily increasing due to rising number of vehicles along with traffic congestion. According to World Bank2 estimates, about 3% of the GDP in India is being lost due to effects of air pollution.
India has taken a number of steps to address the concerns of increasing air pollution by enacting stricter emissions norms on industries and improving vehicular emissions standards among others. India has also developed its own Air Quality Index (AQI) covering major pollutants: Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), SO2, Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Ammonia (NH3), Lead (Pb) and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions. Though a number of steps are being taken by the Government, air pollution remains a challenge as 21 out of 56 cities are falling under poor or below poor air quality category3.
ITC's approach of energy conservation and increasing utilisation of energy from alternate sources such as wind and solar contribute to reduction in air emissions. ITC appropriately invests in state-of-the-art pollution control equipment and a robust system of monitoring, measurement and reporting is in place to conform with environmental standards.
3Bulletin of Ambient Air Quality National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) Manual monitoring system, May 2016, prepared by Central Pollution Control Board. (///www.cpcb.nic.in/AQI_NAMP_Rep_Mar2016.pdf)
All ITC Units monitor significant air emission parameters, such as Particulate Matter (PM), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) on a regular basis to ensure compliance with internal norms that are more stringent than regulatory requirements.
In 2016-17, ITC reduced its total NOx and SO2 emissions but there was an increase in total PM emissions. Reduction in overall NOx emissions was due to better control of processes and among others, Tribeni Unit contributed significantly in the reduction. Tribeni Unit also contributed significantly in reduction of total SOx emissions due to improvement in coal quality. Sulphur in coal, which is the major source of ITC's SO2 emissions, had reduced leading to lower emissions and here also Tribeni Unit contributed significantly in the reduction. The increase in total PM emissions at Bhadrachalam Unit significantly contributed to overall increase, though these emissions were well within the statutory limits.
Bhadrachalam Unit of Paperboards and Specialty Papers Division is not surprisingly a major contributor to our total air emissions. Air emissions data, especially for Bhadrachalam Unit, is being reviewed on a regular basis and compared with industry benchmarks, snapshot of which is presented below.
Though PM emissions, both total and specific, from Bhadrachalam Unit increased in 2016-17 as compared to previous year due to issues with soda recovery boilers' Electro Static Precipitator (ESP) performance, it was within the limits prescribed by the pollution control board.
During 2016-17, both specific NOx and SO2 emissions increased as compared to previous year. Though boilers and steam turbines were operating at lower load due to utilisation of wind electricity, air required for fluidisation in the boilers being constant resulted in higher oxygen concentrations and correspondingly higher NOx emissions.
SO2 emissions are due to sulphur content in fuel as well as pulp cooking process. Increase in specific SO2 emissions was due to higher capture and destruction of non-condensable gases as well as high sulphidity in pulp cooking process; sulphidity increase in pulp cooking process improves the quality of the pulp. Specific NOx and SO2 emissions are given in the graph below.
According to the Sustainability Report 2013 report of Confederation of European Paper Industry (CEPI)4, the average specific emissions were calculated as 0.73 kg/tonnes of NOx and 0.157 kg/tonnes of SO2. Bhadrachalam Unit's performance was comparable to those with European Paper Industry.
4 Specific emissions in 2012 are calculated using the data provided in Sustainability Reports 2013 and 2005. Sustainability Report 2013 provides reduction in specific emissions from 2002 to 2012 and Sustainability Report 2005 provides specific emissions in 2002.
In 2016-17, the total consumption of ODS by all ITC Units was 69.7 kg of CFC-11 equivalent.