Let’s talk direct: Operation Clean Sweep in practice with Šárka Ulehlová
Michael visits ORLEN Unipetrol’s production site, where he meets Šárka Ulehlová, their Operation Clean Sweep coordinator. Šárka takes Michael on a trip around the production facilities and shows him the steps ORLEN Unipetrol is taking to achieve zero pellet loss into the environment. Join Michael to learn more about how small steps can foster significant change and find out what investments OU is making to mitigate their impact on the environment.
ML (Michael Londesborough): Hello, I’ve come today to ORLEN Unipetrol to meet with Šárka. Now Šárka is the coordinator of Operation Clean Sweep, which has a goal of zero plastic pellet loss.
ŠU (Šárka Ulehlová): Hi Michael, it’s nice to see you.
ML: Hi Šárka.
ŠU: Welcome. As you probably know, our goal is zero pellet loss into the environment. I’d like to take you around and show you where it all begins, where it ends and everything we’re doing to meet that goal.
ML: Let’s go and take a look.
ML: So, Šárka, where are we?
ŠU: Well, Michael, we are currently in the bagging hall. It’s a bit noisy here so we’ll have to speak up a bit.
ŠU: This is where the final bagging of the product polypropylene takes place and I’d like to start by showing you the bagging unit over there.
ML: Let’s take a look.
So this is where they bag the Mosten, the polypropylene pellets. Here it is over here. So, what they need to do is, into these bags goes about 25 kilograms of these pellets. Now, the bags are sealed in this enclosed environment, so if there’s any spillage, it collects down here - easy to collect. Occasionally, once or twice a week, a bag will not hot seal correctly, you’ll get more spillage. In that case we have this - a huge vacuum cleaner that you can vacuum all up. Don’t forget - zero pellet waste.
And here we have the bags! 25 kilos in each of Mosten, polypropylene. Nice and clean.
But Šárka, this is a big hall, so what else happens here?
ŠU: Above us are the reservoir silos which pour the polypropylene into IBCs or tankers, which is below us.
ML: Let’s go look.
ŠU: Let’s go.
ML: Okay, Šárka, here I see how it’s going from the silo above down here…
ŠU: Yes, and this is where it’s actually controlled - this is the main control panel and the primary loading point is below.
ML: … it goes down into the transport vehicle from the silo… that’s where they keep the plastic pellets. It goes through the floor where we were up earlier, straight into the car here in three positions. So the pellets never get to see outside. Afterwards, if there is any accidental spillage, they can easily clean it up.
ŠU: And to make sure the pellets don't get off our premises, we have a special cleaning station that ensures the cleanliness of every car leaving our premises.
ML: Yep, this is the biggest vacuum cleaner I have ever seen. It makes sure that no car leaves here with any pellets on its roof. You can see the man up there, the driver, he is vacuum cleaning the roof. All those extra pellets are going into that big bag over there, so there’s zero pellets, zero waste. Everything goes back into the cycle.
ŠU: And of course we have special sieves inside the sewers, in case of any pellets escaping the facility. I’d like to show you how our sewers work. They contain special stainless steel bins, which catch granules, thus preventing them from escaping out into the environment and groundwater.
And here you can see it. If any of the pellets of Mosten manage to get past all the vacuum systems and everything else out into the outside, the last thing we want is for those pellets to get into our water systems and further into our environment. So in the drains, there’s a special type of netting here, which can catch all the pellets. So there’s zero pellet waste.
ŠU: Yes Michael, here we are in our main storage area, where the pellets are waiting for the end customer.
ML: Okay, so each pallet has to carry almost a ton.
What kind of car is that?
ŠU: This is our special sweeping vehicle, which ensures complete cleanliness, even if a bag rips or is opened.
ML: So this car you’ve just seen is a special one in that it can clean up any of the pellets of Mosten fallen to the floor, if a bag is accidentally open or ripped open. What’s important for this is the huge investment from ORLEN Unipetrol into this flooring. Normally we’d expect to see asphalt, which is a very porous material where the pellets can take hold. This is a wonderful hard, concrete but smooth floor, ideal for cleaning up any of the pellets that fall out.