Umicore's facility in Markham, Ontario, reduces GHG emissions by 90% by switching from natural gas to biogas, aligning with the company's target of net-zero emissions by 2035

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January 16, 2024 (press release) –

As Umicore strives to be a Sustainability Champion under its 2030 RISE strategy, we are rethinking and transforming our processes to achieve our Let’s Go for Zero target of Net Zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2035.

An example of how we are doing this can be seen at our site at Markham in Ontario, Canada. ​​​The plant serves Umicore’s Jewellery and Industrial Metals business unit, refining gold, silver, platinum, palladium and other precious metals for jewellery, dentistry, chemical and industrial sectors.

The plant recently achieved a considerable reduction in its GHG emissions by replacing natural gas with biogas for its heating needs. As most of the plant’s furnaces are already electric, and with around three quarters of Ontario’s electricity generation coming from renewable and nuclear energy sources, the plant’s use of natural gas for heating was one of the main contributors to its carbon footprint.

This had been on the mind of Paul Koolhaas, Managing Director at Umicore Markham. He explains: ‘’In Canada, we’re living with the effects of climate change, with devastating forest fires and melting ice caps, all of which has an effect on our wildlife. Nature is very important to us, so the urgency of reducing carbon emissions is top of mind for many people here.’’

Paul says the idea for switching to biogas came to him one day while driving. ‘’I was commuting to work, thinking of how we could reduce our carbon footprint, and I saw an office of Bullfrog Power, a renewable energy and biogas provider. I contacted them and realised it could be an ideal solution.’’ A contract was signed soon after, which means all of Umicore Markham’s natural gas usage has now been replaced by biogas. This avoids the emission of 500 tonnes of CO2 per year, cutting Umicore Markham’s Scope 1 CO2 emissions by 90%.

The direct replacement of fossil fuel in this way aligns with Umicore’s approach to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions. As Gert Van Hoof, Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and Recycling Manager in Umicore’s ESG team in Brussels, explains:

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