Sustainability Report 2019/2020

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Creating tomorrow’s solutions


Global warming due to rising emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) is a socially and economically relevant environmental factor. Its consequences can include extreme weather conditions, such as storms, drought or flooding, that vary from region to region, and their resulting effects, e.g. on agriculture and the availability of drinking water. A primary cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels. That’s why we see energy efficiency as a key to ecologically effective climate protection.

The Group’s corporate carbon footprint report is an important tool for improving climate protection. It covers three different scopes:

  • Scope 1 covers direct greenhouse gas emissions from sources of emissions at WACKER sites worldwide. Examples of such emissions include production plants, power stations, and steam-generation and waste-disposal plants.
  • Scope 2 covers indirect CO2 emissions produced at the locations of our energy-supply facilities as a result of generating those quantities of electricity, steam and heat which WACKER procured.
  • Scope 3 includes all CO2 emissions in the supply chain that are produced upstream or downstream in relation to WACKER. Examples of such emissions include those created by the production or transportation of raw materials, the generation of fuels or by the disposal of end-of-life products. The GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Protocol divides these emissions into 15 categories, though WACKER only reports on those emissions relevant to the company.

During the period under review, we once again forwarded our emissions data to the CDP, which WACKER joined in 2007. In the 2019 and 2020 Climate Change Reports for the chemical sector, Wacker Chemie AG achieved a score of B (on a scale from A to D, representing the levels Leadership (A), Management (B), Awareness (C) and Disclosure (D)). Registered CDP users can download the details.

Scope 1 Emissions

We installed a new gas turbine at the Burghausen power plant in 2019. Because this required shutting down the plant for five months, direct carbon dioxide emissions (Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 1) were down relative to the previous year. At our Holla site, we brought a new furnace on-stream in 2019, increasing production of metallurgical-grade silicon and, in so doing, slightly increasing direct carbon dioxide emissions. Throughout the company as a whole, direct Scope 1 emissions declined in 2019 year over year.

We operated the Burghausen power plant almost continuously throughout 2020, and silicon production at Holla continued to increase. Together these elevated direct carbon dioxide emissions relative to the previous year.

For the cooling units we use in our production processes, we have been gradually replacing existing coolants with alternative materials that pose as little global warming potential as possible. In this way, we are continually reducing the CO2 emissions from coolant leaks, which – despite thorough plant inspections – can still arise due to issues such as hairline cracks.

Direct Greenhouse Gas Emissions








kt CO2e1














CO2 emissions (carbon dioxide)1














of which fossil







of which biogenic







CH4 (methane)3







N2O (nitrous oxide, i.e. laughing gas)







HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons)5







PFCs (perfluorocarbons)




NF3 (nitrogen trifluoride)




SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride)





CO2e = CO2 equivalents, as per Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 1 (direct emissions) CO2 emissions are measured on the basis of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol: “A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard”) published by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Scope 1: direct CO2 emissions. Scope 2: indirect emissions from the consumption of purchased energy (converted into CO2 equivalents for purchased electricity, steam and heat). Conversion is based on emission factors of the International Energy Agency (electricity) and from the GEMIS database (steam and heat).


CO2 emissions are broken down into fossil and biogenic sources in accordance with the GHG Protocol. Biogenic emissions arise from the combustion or decomposition of renewable raw materials.


CH4: methane emissions from fossil sources are reported without methane emissions from biogenic sources.


Data corrected from the 2017/2018 Sustainability Report.


The HFC category contains minor quantities of emissions from other partially halogenated HFCs which contribute to the greenhouse effect as well. The individual GWP factors of the individual substances were used as a basis for calculating the effects of hydrofluorochlorocarbons. The factors range from 13 to 14,800 kg CO2e/kg HFC.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions








kt CO2e1














Scope 1 (direct emissions)2







Scope 2 (indirect emissions)







Scope 3 (indirect emissions), total, of which:







Upstream activities







Category 1 – Purchased goods and services







Category 2 – Capital goods







Category 3 – Fuel and energy-related activities (not included in Scopes 1 & 2)







Total of all other upstream activities3







Downstream activities4







Category 9 – Downstream transportation and distribution







Category 12 – End-of-life treatment of sold products







Category 15 – Capital expenditures








CO2e = CO2 equivalents, as per Greenhouse Gas Protocol. CO2 emissions are measured on the basis of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol: “A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard”) published by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Scope 1: direct CO2 emissions. Scope 2: indirect emissions from the consumption of purchased energy (converted into CO2 equivalents for purchased electricity, steam and heat). Conversion is based on emission factors of the International Energy Agency (electricity) and from the GEMIS database (steam and heat).


Direct CO2 emissions: only the fossil emissions from the "Scope 1 - Direct Greenhouse Gases” table are included here; biogenic emissions are contained in the aforementioned Scope 1 table. That table also reports on laughing gas (nitrous oxide), methane and hydrofluorocarbons.


Contains CO2e emissions in the following categories: Upstream transportation and distribution (Category 4), Waste generated in operations (category 5), Business travel (category 6), Employee commuting (category 7) and Upstream leased assets (category 8), which, due to their much smaller percentages, are reported in consolidated form only.


As a chemical company, WACKER does not – in line with the GHG Protocol – report any emissions from Processing of sold products (category 10) or Use of sold products (category 11). The following Scope 3 categories – Downstream leased assets (category 13) and Franchises (category 14) – are not relevant to WACKER and are consequently not recorded.

Scope 2 Emissions

Installation of the new gas turbine in 2019 meant having to shut down our power plant at the Burghausen site for five months. During that time, we purchased more electricity from external sources in order to compensate for the loss of in-house electricity produced by the power plant. This and the additional demand for energy resulting from increased production output at our Charleston site led to an increase in indirect emissions from purchased energy (Greenhouse Gas Protocol Scope 2) in 2019 relative to the previous year. The following year, we operated the Burghausen power plant on nearly a continuous basis. This decreased our need for purchased electricity and therefore our levels of indirect Scope 2 emissions relative to 2019.

Electricity-to-CO2-emissions conversion factors for power generation in Germany and the US fell further (data from “CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion,” 2019 and 2020 editions, International Energy Agency). 

Scope 3 Emissions

To calculate the indirect Scope 3 emissions relevant to WACKER, we use methods in line with the GHG Protocol (Corporate Value Chain Standard) based on WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) guidance for chemical-sector companies.

Other Air Emissions

Nitrogen oxide emissions remained virtually unchanged from 2018 to 2019. On the one hand, the five-month shutdown of the CHP plant at the Burghausen site caused nitrogen oxide emissions there to drop dramatically; on the other hand, however, the amount of nitrogen oxide emitted due to the new furnace rose to a comparable degree.

In 2020, nitrogen oxide emissions continued to rise relative to 2019. The principal causes were the capacity expansion at Holla and measures to stabilize processes in the new furnace. The significant decrease in emissions due to the new gas turbine at Burghausen – 16 percent less NOx year over year – mitigated this effect.

Volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) dropped in 2019 relative to the previous year. Improvements in existing processes enabled us to more than compensate for rising emissions caused by new facilities and increases in production. NMVOC values rose year over year due to increases in production capacity utilization. These were caused by the expansion of WACKER POLYMERS’ production capacity at the Ulsan site in South Korea and by the high utilization rates of production facilities in Nanjing, China, and in Burghausen.

Holla site expansion caused total dust emissions to rise in 2019 year over year. As the Holla expansion project progressed, total dust emissions rose further in 2020 relative to 2019. With its enhanced technology, the new furnace in Holla will help further reduce specific dust emissions per metric ton of product. Process stabilization measures for the new furnace led to phases of elevated dust emissions in 2020.

Emissions of Air Pollutants






















NOx nitrogen oxides







NMVOC non-methane volatile organic compounds







CO carbon monoxide







Total dust







SO2 sulfur dioxide







Emission Measurements

At our largest site, Burghausen, we monitor plant emissions, using both our own measurements and those taken by external testing institutes, to ensure we are in compliance with legal emissions limits. The environmental measurement vehicle at the Burghausen site fire department is a core element of our environmental monitoring efforts in the event of substance releases, nuisance odors or disruptions to the running of the plant. As a key Crisis Management unit, the vehicle – on duty around the clock – is predominantly used for prevention, to rule out any risks for people and the environment. The integrated lab equipment makes measurements of air, gas, liquids and solids possible on the go. Experts at the plant fire department can collect data on site and pass it on to the Environment department’s standby team, Crisis Management’s emergency response team and the relevant authorities.

Sustainable Mobility Strategy

Climate protection also plays a key role in our fleet and passenger transport strategy. This strategy includes using environmentally friendly vehicles, keeping passenger transports and business trips to a minimum, organizing shuttle services, and maintaining a fleet of on-site bicycles. We encourage our employees to investigate alternatives to taking a car, such as video conferences. To the extent that their duties permit, many of our employees have been working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. This also plays a role in reducing commutes and the associated CO2 emissions.

At our Burghausen site, we provide 56 commuter bus routes, which some 4,000 of our employees use every day within a 50-km radius. The site also maintains a fleet of some 6,000 bicycles. Our Nünchritz site has a fleet of around 1,000 bicycles. In addition to our “JobRad” bike-leasing project, we regularly participate in campaigns that encourage employees based in Germany to commute to work by bicycle. 

Our company car fleet, organized from Germany, has some 500 vehicles in Europe and Australia. Around another 100 company cars are in use in China, South Korea, Brazil and the USA. When we choose contracting companies for passenger transport, we assess the safety and environmental impact of the vehicles used by the bidders. Our company car fleet in Germany only includes models that meet a minimum rating of “good” according to the safety and environmental assessment criteria issued by the German Automobile Association (ADAC). 

WACKER offers frequent travelers and employees who use company cars the opportunity of participating in safety and eco training. Regularly held safety weeks at our sites cover sustainable mobility topics. Over two-thirds of the material handling equipment (pallet jacks, forklifts and towing vehicles) at our Burghausen and Nünchritz sites have electric motors. Groupwide, the switchover to energy-saving electric motors now covers other equipment, such as pumps and compressors.

At the Burghausen site, electric vehicles are in use for visitor shuttles and for our internal mail service. The technical departments have access to commercial electric vehicles for installation and on-call services. Visitors traveling to Burghausen in an electric vehicle can charge their vehicle battery for free in our visitors’ parking lot.