Methanex gets Green Agenda Award

THE DEBATE about climate change is over. We have witnessed increased forest fires, devastating floods, and other deleterious effects upon people and the environment from climate change-related events. It is time to accept that we have a duty to reconsider the way we do business.

This year, in partnership with platinum sponsor the National Gas Company, the Chamber added a new category – the Green Agenda Award. Many businesses are pursuing strategic initiatives for energy efficiency, reducing their carbon footprints, and investing in the development of more environmentally friendly energy sources.

“There is an urgent need for all companies and individuals to pursue or even increase their green initiatives and it is our hope that this award is one way in which we inspire action among others,” said Charles Pashley, president of the Chamber.

The Green Agenda Award recognises the contribution and commitment that companies now make towards growing a greener future in business and delivering a new blueprint for business into the 21st Century. This year, we are pleased to announce that Methanex Trinidad Ltd (MTL) was adjudged to be the company that has best demonstrated leadership in implementing energy efficiency strategies while working to contribute positively to the promotion of a greener T&T.

Methanex Corporation, which is headquartered in Canada, is the world’s largest producer and shipper of methanol to international markets. Methanol is considered a clean-burning fuel and is used in many industries to manufacture a wide range of products that we use daily.

Methanex Trinidad has been selected from among the nominations in the Green Agenda category for its work to promote fuel efficiency in plant operations, reduce energy consumption at its offices, along with its efforts to promote methanol as a cleaner marine fuel and to engage its employees in recycling and conservation activities.

“Sustainability is part of our commitment and we have a long history of ensuring that we are part of the solution on the sustainability journey,” says MTL’s Leiselle Harripersad, manager of Commercial and Stakeholder Relations. In 2016, MTL was the first in T&T to submit its application for Source Emitter Registration with the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), in compliance with the Air Pollution Rules. They hoped to provide a lead for other companies to follow, which would contribute to the EMA’s commitment to establish an intelligent and comprehensive inventory of the types, quantities and locations of facilities releasing air emissions.

The information provided by MTL and other compliant companies will feed into the understanding of the current impacts of emissions on Trinidad and Tobago’s atmosphere. It will also allow the EMA to work effectively with individual facilities during the permitting phase to develop appropriate mitigation plans geared at ensuring that air emissions are within acceptable standards.

On the foundation of Methanex’s Responsible Care ethic, MTL has championed several projects which speak to the “Green Agenda” and are aligned to the Chamber’s identified criteria. These include efforts to support engagement of its staff/team, recycling, and waste minimisation, use of “green” suppliers and materials, energy and water efficiency, and in promoting sustainable transport by investing in a joint feasibility study with National Energy to explore the use of methanol as an alternative fuel for transport in Trinidad and Tobago.

Important to the criteria for winning the Green Agenda Award was metrics. All the initiatives listed must have had a measurable impact, one of which was the Methanex’s Corporate Utility Management Programme (CUMP). Launched in Trinidad in 2017 and implemented by utilizing office-based energy saving measures in administrative buildings, these measures included installation of remote monitoring thermostats and scheduling of air condition units based on building occupancy. To date, the Methanex Trinidad site has been able to reduce its energy consumption for the office buildings by ~15 per cent, which equates to a CO2 emission reduction of nearly 1,000 tonnes over a three-year period.

The second phase of this project has been kicked off and is expected to further reduce emissions by over 400 tonnes annually. Additionally, in 2021, Methanex also embarked on an off-gas piping project to improve plant efficiency and reduce flared emissions. Via this initiative, the company’s CO2 emissions were further reduced by an estimated 3,600 tonnes annually.

Recently, Methanex formed two global leadership teams to focus on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its manufacturing sites and shipping operations, and to investigate low carbon technologies. The company is also leading an industry-wide global initiative in sustainable shipping operations. Waterfront Shipping, a subsidiary of Methanex, demonstrated the ease of ‘barge-to-ship’ bunkering as part of the launch of the world’s first barge-to-ship methanol bunkering operation. Approximately 60 per cent of the company’s vessels will be capable of running on methanol by 2023. As a marine fuel, methanol reduces sulfur oxides and particulate matter emissions by approximately 95 per cent, nitrogen oxides by approximately 80 per cent and CO2 combustion emissions by up to 15 per cent.

MTL engages their employees on the green agenda not just through their company’s operations but through several internally led initiatives. One of which, titled Restoration Station, involved a month-long employee and family engagement competition which included a recycling competition and conducting conservation activities at home, then sharing at the office. This year, in August 2021, the employees recycled over 2,250 bags and shared more than 10 sustainable activities that included their families.

Moving forward, MTL intends continue their initiatives to educate about, and advocate for, sustainability and environmental restoration within the company, their fence line and wider communities. The company remains active via its Social Responsibility Committee and Community Advisory Panel which identify and provide support to external conservation initiatives. Internally, employees are encouraged to participate in several company-led activities such as Restoration Station. They are also provided the resources and time off to maintain involvement in departmental team builders, whereby employees volunteer their time to participate in outreach programs, including working with Habitat for Humanity and beach clean ups.

“I wish to remind everyone that we all have a role as individuals in reducing our carbon footprint. We can all take steps, big or small, towards conservation, whether it be by turning off the lights when we leave a room; even using bicycles or walking instead of cars when we can. These are all things that we can do to help our environment and they are all within our reach. Understanding that we have the personal power to make good choices for the betterment of our environment and community is key to achieving our goals as a country. Together we can make a difference,” said Harripersad in her acceptance speech at the Gala Finale Awards.

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