Creative Enhancement At Work

Innovative sustainability practices

Our construction contractor is also committed to creating a sustainable future, so, together, we were able to implement various extremely positive sustainability measures during the construction phase, including the following waste-reduction activities:

  • To prevent 3,500 tons of sand from crane counterweight containers from being barged to another location, management repurposed the sand elsewhere on the site.
  • To avert the need to import quarried material, the contractors crushed and screened the excavated soil on-site.
  • To avoid using 10 million gallons of potable water to hydrotest tanks, captured stormwater was used instead
    • To reduce the need to use new concrete, waste concrete was recycled to make sign bases and Jersey barriers.

Furthermore, the Monaca site is participating in a waste pilot study to develop waste reduction best practices so that other new Shell facilities around the world will be able to benefit from these learnings.

Enhanced local habitats

As part of the project, we restored and enhanced 60 acres of local wetlands and streams, and will continue to monitor these habitats for five years. Furthermore, the enhanced wetlands could capture and store up to 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year.

Plant design

Plant Design

Sustainability By Design

Underground piping with high recycled content

When we installed 10 miles of underground piping to collect runoff from across the site, we made sure the materials were sustainable. This piping directs stormwater away from the site and either into retention ponds or through outfalls into existing waterways. A specialist company, whose products have a high content of recycled plastic, produced the piping.

Roads containing waste plastic

The conventional asphalt on the site’s roads is modified with a wax additive derived entirely from post-use polymer to provide better flexibility and temperature resistance and, therefore, to prevent it from rutting in summer or cracking in winter.

High-performance asphalt roads often use virgin polymer as a performance modifier; however, we worked with a specialist technology company whose patented technology transforms waste plastic that might otherwise have gone to landfill into a wax performance modifier for use in asphalt, thereby displacing virgin materials.

Not only does this enable the recycling of large quantities of plastic (for the Monaca site, it is equivalent to about three million plastic grocery bags), there is also a substantial carbon reduction benefit. This is because, compared with normal asphalt, the modified asphalt flows better (it is less viscous or thinner), which means less energy is necessary for its installation – the installation temperature can be 30–50°F lower.

Co-generation power plant partially hydrogen fueled

To generate the polymer plant’s power and ensure we do not tax the surrounding power grid, the site uses a combined heat and power system, a highly efficient process that captures and utilizes the heat that is a by-product of the electricity generation process. This will also provide 83 MW of power to the local grid – enough to power Monaca’s homes five times over. Although this power plant is mainly fueled by natural gas, hydrogen from the cracker is also recycled to this unit, which further reduces its carbon intensity.



Future-proofed For A Better Tomorrow

Ready for carbon capture and storage

When suitable sequestration sites or CO2 utilization opportunities become available, the site will be able to feasibly add carbon capture technology to the process line-up. This is because the plant was designed with the future in mind: engineers allocated plot space for carbon capture technology and infrastructure.

World-class energy efficiency

According to benchmarking specialist Solomon, the plant has one of the world’s lowest carbon intensities in its sector. There are several reasons for this. For example, the engineers designing the plant specified best-in-class equipment such as motors, drives, turbines and other electrical equipment. Installing latest-generation equipment throughout a plant can have a major impact on energy efficiency because the conductors, bearings, sealing systems and so on have been subjected to ongoing, cumulative improvements.

In addition, the licensed processes we have implemented have specific configurations and equipment line-ups that feature heat integration measures that make them highly energy efficient.

Furthermore, the site’s cracker – the heart of a chemical plant – is a state-of-the-art ethane cracker that uses the latest processing technology and is inherently less energy intensive than a naphtha-fed one because it is far easier to crack the gas molecules.

Avoiding impacts on the Ohio River

We have devoted considerable efforts to mitigating any potential impacts on the Ohio River. The water-treatment facility will take water from the river and subject it to multiple treatment processes, including clarification, filtration and demineralization, before it is used for steam generation and cooling. The water will then return to its source with improved quality.

We also organize volunteers for the annual Ohio River Sweep to remove waste from the river and build community awareness.



Keeping The Community Clean

No- or low-carbon transport

We are encouraging no- or low-carbon resin transport. The resin the plant produces will leave the site on rail cars or trucks. We want to proactively champion a cleaner way to operate. This is why, as part of our plan for the future of this site, we are connecting with trucking companies to encourage the use of hydrogen and electric vehicles.

We are also leveraging insights into no- or low-carbon transport from other parts of Shell, including Shell Lubricant Solutions. Our sister organization’s hyper-aerodynamic, super-fuel-efficient, heavy-duty concept truck, the Shell Starship 2.0, demonstrates how currently available technologies can reduce CO2 emissions and increase fuel economy and freight ton efficiency.

Operation Clean Sweep Blue pledge

We have taken the Operation Clean Sweep Blue pledge. The facility will produce polyethylene powder and pellets that cannot be allowed to make their way into local waterways under any circumstances. To eliminate this possibility, we have integrated world-class process integrity practices into our operations and maintenance plans to keep our products in the pipes, silos and transport vessels designed to contain them.

Further, we have designed and implemented multiple barriers to capture and retain any powder or pellets that may be released through our maintenance or operating activities. The facility has implemented the applicable guidelines from Operation Clean Sweep, an industry program designed to ensure plastic pellet, flake and powder containment. In addition, we have achieved Operation Clean Sweep Blue member status, which recognizes companies committed to excelling in the program.

Improving regional recycling

Shell Polymers recently awarded a $225,000 grant to the Beaver County Department of Sustainability and Waste Management to invest in the expansion of recycling services. This was a direct response to the increased sustainable awareness in the region.

A recycling education coordinator position funded by the grant has enabled Beaver County to:

  • expand recycling education outreach to participating county school districts, including rallying school officials in developing recycling consciousness in their districts through implementing recycling programs or enhancing existing ones; and
  • extending county recycling center hours and operations. These additional days and hours of operation have increased the recycling center’s use, expanded the items and tonnage collected, and provided greater recycling education opportunities for the residents who use this critical county service.

Shell Polymers Sustainability

What sustainability means at Shell

Powering Progress sets out Shell’s strategy to accelerate the transition of our business to net-zero emissions. It is designed to integrate sustainability with our business strategy.

Sustainability reports

We began reporting voluntarily on our environmental performance with the first Shell Report that covered 1997. We do it to be transparent, and to show how we are contributing to sustainable development. 

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