Enabling the Adoption of Circular Economy Principles at a Biofuel Refinery

Enabling the Adoption of Circular Economy Principles at a Biofuel Refinery

Project Info




With three billion new consumers expected to enter the global market by 2030, demanding goods and services, the linear model of our industrial economy (take, make, waste) is not sustainable. The notion of a circular economy — where resources, waste and emissions are minimized by closing or narrowing energy and material usage loops — is gaining momentum in many sectors including manufacturing, oil & gas, and energy.

During 2018, Golder worked with global energy company Eni to improve circularity at two separate operations: a green refinery in Venice (formerly producing hydrocarbon-based products, but upgraded in 2014 to produce biofuels from vegetable-based oils and fat); and a fuel deposit close to Torino. Golder was engaged to identify practical solutions that Eni could adopt in its day-to-day operations to increase circularity and sustainability.

Our team analysed the current performance of each operation, focusing on water, resource and energy use as well as waste production and impacts on biodiversity, and identified further solutions that Eni could implement. Through an analysis of baseline data, we identified areas of improvement and proposed a series of solutions.

These proposed actions included reusing waste within the same or similar process that creates it; regenerating waste from a process by treating it so it can be reused in the same process; recycling waste from a process by using it as the input for another process; sharing excess elements as input for another process; using renewable resources instead of finite resources; and increasing resilience.

Actions were classified according to the degree of complexity, timeframe for implementation and positive value in terms of circularity. Preliminary results of the analysis were discussed with Eni. Six actions were selected for further development and/or progress to feasibility studies. Golder has been collecting further data including technology to be used, benefits and weak points, costs and resources involved, to support our client’s investment decision-making process. These actions, backed up by research, are currently being considered for adoption.

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