Environmental protection efforts and biodiversity

GRI indicators:

Environmental protection efforts

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The ORLEN Group’s flagship nature protection initiative consists in supporting the peregrine  falcon, a critically endangered species. For a dozen or so years, PKN ORLEN, ANWIL and Unipetrol have been successfully running the falcon restoration programmes. In 2019, Spolana joined the group of companies on whose premises falcon chicks hatched for the first time.

PKN ORLEN has participated in the Peregrine Falcon Restitution Programme  since 1999. The first peregrine falcon chicks hatched on the premises of the Płock production plant in May 2002. In 2019, two chicks hatched on the plant site. The nest in Płock has been home to 48 birds to date. Peregrine falcons also nest on the site of the Czech company Spolana in Neratovice. In 2019, they had their first two chicks. In total, 25 young falcons have hatched on the premises of the ORLEN Group’s Czech companies since 2011, including 23 at Unipetrol in Litvínov. At ANWIL, falcons have had a nest on the CHP stack since 1999. In 2019, three chicks hatched on the premises of the plant in Włocławek, and over the past 10 years this breeding site saw 45 young falcons altogether. Thus, the Group companies contributed to restoring the peregrine falcon population with 118 birds.

Another species requiring special protection and action is the bee. Seeing a worrying trend of these insects dying out, the Group companies have become involved in both their active protection and educational efforts. For example, ORLEN Deutschland turned the area around its headquarters into an 8,000 m2 meadow, on which it erected two bee hives. PKN ORLEN, in partnership with the Warsaw Province Agricultural Advisory Centre (MODR), placed 16 hives near its production plant, currently inhabited by over one million bees. Good quality of their honey was confirmed by an accredited laboratory. There is also an apiary with five bee hives on the premises of the Czech company Spolana, and its honey yield was awarded the gold medal of quality in the Czech Honey competition.

In total, the Group companies take care of 23 bee families, i.e. over 1.5 million bees.

In terms of education, ORLEN Eko carried out an environmental project for pupils and students, called ‘Be nice to bee’, with the aim of disseminating knowledge about bees and other pollinators. As part of the project, a bee garden was created on the premises of a high school in Płock. In association with MODR, PKN ORLEN held a conference entitled ‘Bees in Human Life. Biodiversity and Protection’, during which available methods of protecting and supporting the species were discussed. PKN ORLEN employees also ran a series of beekeeping workshops for children from Płock educational centres, during which they could handmake beeswax candles. These initiatives show that the Company understands the need to protect nature and is aware of the key role of bees in maintaining the global ecosystem.

In 2019, PKN ORLEN published an environmental leaflet with important information on a number of plant and animal species living in the vicinity of the plant, including protected ones. The leaflet makes for interesting reading not only for adults but also children, for whom it features a jigsaw puzzle and a game.

During birdwatching ship excursions along the Vistula River organised by PKN ORLEN, interested inhabitants of Płock and its surroundings could admire the beauty of the surrounding nature, landscapes of the Vistula River’s middle section and a multitude of flora and fauna species. The Vistula hosts some unique habitats (including islands, sandbanks and riparian forests), which provide a refuge for rare species of plants and animals. During the excursions, ORLEN also provided attractions for the youngest by organising nature competitions with prizes. In total, about half a thousand local residents took part in the cruises.

As every year, ORLEN Group companies were involved in activities for the benefit of the environment as part of global initiatives such as ‘Clean Up the World’, ‘Days of the Earth’ and ‘European Sustainable Development Week’. Last year, ANWIL, PKN ORLEN and ORLEN Projekt participated in waste collection campaigns. ANWIL, as the organiser of the ‘Tree for a Bottle’ campaign with the participation of 6,500 children from Włocławek educational institutions, collected over 800,000 thousand PET bottles, which it transferred for recycling. As for PKN ORLEN – its employees cleaned up the surroundings of the hydroelectric power plant and the location of treated water discharge from the plant to the Vistula river, as well as the beaches of Łuba and Górskie Lakes, while ORLEN Projekt employees collected household waste dumped in forests near Płock. These initiatives were undertaken in connection with the Responsible Care Programme, and their outcome was the collection of over 13,000 litres of waste as well as tyres and other large items.

ORLEN Group companies participate in the Responsible Care Programme, which is based on the same guiding principles all over the world but the Polish edition is Europe’s largest in terms of the scope and number of implemented projects. The projects are coordinated by the Secretariat of the Responsible Care Programme managed by ORLEN Eco under the supervision of the Polish Chamber of Chemical Industry and the Governing Board of the Responsible Care Programme.

ORLEN Group companies participating in the Responsible Care Programme include ANWIL (since 1995), Unipetrol (since 1996), PKN ORLEN (since 1997), Paramo (since 2001), IKS Solino (since 2002), Basell Orlen Polyolefins (since 2003), Unipetrol Doprava (since 2011) and ORLEN Południe (since 2016).

Besides activities that are mandatory under the Programme, ORLEN Group companies also run their own projects, including: ‘Tree for a Bottle’, the ‘Catch a Hare’ and ‘Catch a Hare – Junior Edition’ photo contest, the ‘Nature Watchers’ competition, the Chemical Sector Environmental Forum, and the ‘Mr Carp Restocks the Vistula’ campaign.

In 2019, ORLEN Group companies continued their activities under the Programme, and met all the related reporting obligations. The information is used to assess the condition of the environment and the progress of the Responsible Care Programme implementation by chemical industry companies.

Important initiatives benefiting the environment, but also shaping pro-environmental attitudes among employees, are green employee volunteering campaigns. In 2019, PKN ORLEN employees, together with foresters, planted a forest, made other plantings to form an educational trail for Płock primary school pupils and created an EcoCity for the time of holiday stay of children from foster family group homes. Joint projects with local communities, especially those involving children and youth in pro-environmental campaigns, are an important element of the Group companies’ activities. In spring and autumn 2019, ORLEN volunteers planted a total of nearly 2,500 trees and shrubs.

At the beginning of May 2019, primary school pupils from Neratovice released 425 kg of fish into the Elbe. The campaign was organised and financed by our Czech company Spolana, which also organised competitions accompanying the event, designed to broaden the knowledge about the natural environment. Spolana’s cooperation with the local unit of the Czech Fishing Association dates back to 2013. The partners have already released 2,500 kg of fry into the river. Since 2010, the Unipetrol Group has partnered with the local fishing organisations in taking care of the fish population in the Usti region. To date, they have stocked the Bilina river with more than 7,000 kg of fish. Last year, as part of the ‘Mr Carp Restocks the Vistula’ campaign, ANWIL, together with primary school pupils, introduced 147 kg of eel fry to the Vistula, and since 2015 the river has been stocked with 620 kg of fish. To date, the efforts of our companies have led to the release of nearly 8,000 kilograms of fry into the rivers in the vicinity of our plants.

Unipetrol cooperates with and provides financial support to the Environmental Protection Centre in Kralupy. In the past year, they jointly carried out a project in which the residents indicated the following initiatives as the most desirable ones: tree planting in Most and revitalising the Pilařský Pond area in Litvínov.

Biodiversity and active protection

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The Płock production plant site and the adjacent land are nature-rich areas and home to rare, and in some cases protected, species. This was confirmed by the botanists, ornithologists, ichthyologists and other scientists conducting a wildlife survey at that location. Similar surveys were conducted by ANWIL, Unipetrol and Spolana. The list of species living near our plants often includes animals that are sensitive to the quality of the environment, such as rainbow trout in the water reservoirs in Spolana.

On the site of the Płock production plant and the adjacent areas there are nearly 290 species of fauna and flora (based on the wildlife survey made in 2017). The local residents know roe deer, rabbits, beavers and peregrine falcons to be regulars of the nearest surroundings of the plant. The surprising thing unveiled by the survey is the presence of protected bird species such as black woodpecker, kingfisher, red-backed western marsh harrier, as well as amphibians and reptiles: European tree frogs, newts, toads, lizards and grass snakes. Nearly 160 species identified in the survey are ones included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. A vast majority of them (more than 95%) have been classified as the least concern (LC) species. Five species require particular attention – three vulnerable (VU) species, i.e. the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), the common carp (Cyprinus carpio), and two species classified by the IUCN as near threatened (NT), i.e. the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra).

The wildlife survey on the premises of ANWIL in 2018 identified more than 220 plant and animal species, the vast majority (more than 90%) of which are included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as the least concern (LC) species. ANWIL’s site was found to be home to three lichen species featuring in the Red List of extinct and threatened lichens in Poland (VU category – vulnerable species, and NT – near threatened species)’; none of them was identified on the Płock site.

On the premises of both production plants, there are protected habitats listed in the Habitats Directive. These include in the case of PKN ORLEN’s site: in its eastern and southern parts, i.e. on the Brzeźnica river valley side and near the Moczary retention reservoirs – alder and ash floodplain forests and riparian forests (Alno-Ulmion) (91E0), broadleaved forests (Carpinion) (9170), lowland ranunculus rivers (3260) – a part of a tributary of the Brzeźnica, and riverain herbaceous area (6430) – in the Brzeźnica tributary valley. On the site of the ANWIL plant there are: 35 areas of four types of protected natural habitats (including one in three subtypes) covering almost 130 ha – inland dunes with open Corynephorus and Agrostis grasslands (2330), xeric sand calcareous grasslands (6120), lowland hay meadows (6510), Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae) (91E0-1), (91E0-2), and (91E0-3).

Among the birds nesting on both plants’ sites, there are several species listed in the Birds Directive, which are also under strict protection in Poland: the red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio), the barred warbler (Sylvia nisoria), the western marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus) , the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), the corn crake (Crex crex), the common tern (Sterna hirundo), the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), the common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the common crane (Grus grus) (only on ANWIL S.A.’s premises), and the woodlark (Lullula arborea) (only on ANWIL’s premises).

The species under strict protection that inhabit the sites of the two production plants include four species of bats: the serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus), the common noctule (Nyctalus noctula), the brown long-eared bat (Plecotus sp.), and the common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus).

The great number od species present on the site and in the surroundings of the Płock production plant is undoubtedly related to the proximity of protected areas: the Brzeźnica River Ravine nature and landscape complex, and two Natura 2000 sites, namely Włocławska Dolina Wisły (Włocławek Vistula River Valley, PLH040039 ) and Dolina Dolnej Wisły (Lower Vistula River Valley, PLB040003). The survey results will make it possible to plan the steps to take to protect and increase biodiversity, and make development plans for the two plants that specifically account for the neighbouring protected areas.

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