Happy Earth Day. Here are 7 things the refining industry is doing to make it so.

All Canadians, including governments and industry, are concerned about the challenges posed by mitigating GHG emissions and improving our environmental record. On the eve of Earth Day, we know there is much left to be done; but we also know great strides have been made in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protecting the air, water and land.

Canadian Fuels Association members work hard to get greener every year. Since 2000, our refiner members – which operate 14 refineries in seven provinces – have invested over $10 billion to improve the environmental performance of their refineries (PDF), and the fuels they produce, including $5 billion to reduce sulphur in gasoline and diesel. That’s an impressive number, to be sure, but what’s actually being done? This list breaks down seven things Canada’s refining industry is doing to protect the planet.
  1. Focusing on remediation: Canadian Fuels members have remediated 1,137 “surplus” or unused service station and other sites since 2009. Those sites are now available for other uses, such as industrial, recreational, residential or commercial purposes.

  2. Reducing CO2 emissions: Refiners have reduced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 12 per cent since 1990. Refiners account for only two per cent of the country’s total GHG emissions, and they are constantly working on new technologies and processes to reduce emissions even further.

  3. Cutting energy use: In the last eight years, refiners have decreased their energy consumption by more than 19 per cent.

  4. Reducing air emissions at refineries: Huge improvements have been made in reducing refinery air emissions. Since 2002, sulphur emissions at refining facilities have fallen by 47 per cent, nitrogen oxides are down 41 per cent, volatile organic compounds have been cut by 48 per cent and benzene is down 41 per cent as a result of vast improvements in processes.

  5. Reducing water use: Today, after years of looking for ways to reduce water use, our member refiners’ water intake is down 37 per cent since 2005. Water effluent deposits of five federally-controlled substances – oil and grease, sulphide, ammonia nitrogen, phenol and total suspended solids, are far below allowable limits.

  6. Reducing sulphur in fuels: After lead was removed entirely from gasoline, refiners turned their attention to also reducing sulphur. Sulphur content in gasoline was reduced to less than 30 parts per million (ppm), and to less than 15 ppm in diesel fuel. These numbers represent a 90 per cent drop in gasoline sulphur content, and a 97 per cent cut in diesel since 2005. New regulations enacted in 2015 will bring down sulphur in gasoline to just 10 ppm.

  7. Used oil recycling: Canadian Fuels and its partners have played a big part in driving used oil recycling across the country. Today, millions of litres of used oil, antifreeze, filters and containers are collected and recycled every year.

Because of these improvements, Canadians today are breathing easier, driving cleaner cars on cleaner fuel, and moving into a better environmental future. Happy Earth Day.
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