Overview UN Goals
Header - Overview UN Goals
Introduction UN Goals
In 2015, under the aegis of the United Nations, the international community adopted Agenda 2030. It lays out 17 global goals together with the call to implement measures to achieve those goals. In particular, the Sustainable Development Goals No Poverty, Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Resonsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions are of great importance to Messer. Both global and local projects and activities, as well as initiatives supported by Messer, contribute to various sustainability goals. The individual projects contribute to long-term improvement and can be viewed here:
UN Goal 1 - No poverty
The aim of the Ria Messer Foundation is to support the most vulnerable members of our society. In accordance with the charter, the foundation supports charitable projects and public welfare projects.
Even today, there are many people who are more vulnerable than others. People who are sick or need care, people who do not receive enough support in our society, but desperately need help. This is precisely where the Ria Messer Foundation seeks to provide assistance. In keeping with the times, it fulfills the binding social contract implicit in the will of the founder: helping other people.
The Ria Messer Foundation treats all people with respect and tolerance. Its activities encompass support and funding as well as operational aspects. It has been a charitable dependent foundation established under private law since it was founded. It is held in trust by the Dr. Hans Messer Foundation.
The purpose of the foundation is to provide support to specific individuals within the meaning of § 53 AO (German tax code) and to promote social welfare. This purpose shall be achieved by helping individuals who are dependent on the help of others as a result of their physical, mental or psychological condition (§ 53 No. 1 AO of the German tax code), who find themselves in need through no fault of their own, for example as a result of natural disasters, who are in need according to § 53 No. 2 Clause 3 AO of the German tax code, by providing one-off or ongoing financial support in order to remedy their need in the long term or by financially aiding the work of the leading independent welfare organizations or other tax-privileged bodies operating in the charitable sector or other tax-privileged organizations providing care and treatment to individuals suffering from serious illnesses through no fault of their own.
Messer organized an international drive to collect private donations from among all employees in solidarity with the employees of Messer in Dung Quat, Vietnam, and their families who were affected by the typhoon “Molave.” In so doing, they supported the reconstruction of private homes, an infirmary and schools, and provided direct care for people in urgent need.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which affects the entire planet and each and every one of us, has triggered not only an unprecedented health crisis, but also an economic and social one as well. Many families depend on aid for survival. The number of requests received by the food bank (Banco de Alimentos) in Spain, for example, has risen by 40 percent this year. In view of this situation, Messer Ibérica renewed its collaboration with Tarragona’s regional food bank. In 2020, a donation of 3,000 euros was used to invest in the purchase of food for the neediest families.
In Tarragona province, the foundation La Muntanyeta supports people with cerebral palsy in a dedicated school, a day care center and a dormitory. Its goal is to defend the rights of these people and to improve their quality of life. The foundation is currently building a new center, La Muntanyeta Bonavista, which will give disabled persons a home and provide them with room for lifelong projects. This segment of the population suffers from tremendous need and long waiting lists. The center will provide 50 places in the day care center and dormitory rooms for 60 adults. Messer was one of the first companies to support this project. Thanks to that support, every room of the new facility will have a medical oxygen supply station.
To relieve poverty and support disabled persons, the local Chinese Messer company ZMG donated 30,000 renminbi to needy families in the area in 2019.
In November 2019, the employees at our location in Stewartsville, New Jersey, gathered for a day as volunteers to help deserving members of the community. The employees donated their time and worked together with the nearby Saint Philip & Saint James Church to distribute some 400 Thanksgiving meals to needy families just in time for the holiday. It was a team-building exercise in the service of a good cause and offered proof of Messer’s commitment to mobilize for the well-being of society and of the communities where we work.
During the Messer “Season of Giving Campaign” in December 2019, employees of various locations in the USA, Canada, Brazil, Colombia and Chile took time out to give something back to their community. From Bogotá to Vancouver, Messer volunteers donated essential non-perishable goods to local food banks, assisted more than 30,000 families, and worked together with local hospitals and charities over the Christmas holidays, in order to support the neighborhoods around our companies.
In 2019 the employees of the headquarters of Messer Americas in Bridgewater, New Jersey, donated food to feed hungry people in the local community. Just in time for the Christmas holidays, the volunteer helpers gave the donations to the Food Bank Network of Somerset County in New Jersey.
Volunteers in Vancouver, Washington, collected and delivered more than 300 kilogram of food to the Clark County Salvation Army Food Bank, which distributed it to the local community during the holidays.
Messer Colombia organized a food drive to collect and donate food to feed many families during the holidays in 2019. The employees of Messer Colombia also volunteered at the Food Bank of Bogotá, where they packaged nutritious food to support some of the city’s most impoverished communities. Messer Colombia employees also collected Christmas gifts for children receiving care under the REMEO program. A team of Messer volunteers visited the REMEO facilities, spending time with the children and reading to them. Messer employees from throughout Colombia distributed and donated gifts to young patients in several cities where our REMEO program operates. The gifts brought a smile of delight to the face of many children receiving ventilator support.
In 2019 dedicated volunteers from Messer Gases Brazil completed a successful holiday food drive, collecting and distributing tons of non-perishable items to feed the needy during the holidays. The Messer Brazil Industrial Maintenance team also worked together with the Rio de Janeiro-based charity SBA (Anchieta Charitable Society) to collect desperately needed goods and distribute them to needy families.
In 2019 employees of Messer in Chile visited the children of Moritas Garden, where volunteers organized activities such as face-painting, a puppet show and a visit from Santa. In collaboration with our logistics services provider in Chile, Red Cargo, Messer employees distributed gifts and were glad to see the beaming smiles on the faces of the children.
UN Goal 3 - Good Health and Well-beeing
A network of safety officers at Messer studies and documents all safety-related incidents at Messer and provides, among other things, information and training materials on how to handle our products and applications safely, along with safe practices at the different workplaces.
In 2020, Messer reported 44 industrial accidents with loss of working hours – a figure that remained unchanged from 2019. The rate of loss of employee working time per million hours worked (accident frequency rate) likewise remained unchanged at 2.0. The number of working days lost per million hours worked (industrial accident severity rate) rose from 45.6 in 2019 to 56.3 in 2020. We recorded 83 reportable industrial accidents – 14 fewer than in the previous year; the frequency rate of reportable industrial accidents per million hours worked also decreased over the course of the year, from 4.4 to 3.7. As in 2019, Messer’s workforce suffered no fatalities last year.
In early November 2020, the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) presented four safety awards to Messer for exemplary work safety:
Messer Hungarogáz (Hungary) earned a “Gold Star Safety Award 2020” for having gone 20 years without an industrial accident at its production site in Kazincbarcika.
Messer Industriegase (Germany) was presented a silver EIGA safety award for having operated accident-free for 10 years at the site of its air separation unit in Salzgitter.
MG Odra Gas (Czech Republic) was proud to receive a “Silver Safety Award” for having worked 500,000 hours without an industrial accident.
Messer Romania Gaz (Romania) received a bronze safety award for five accident-free years at the Mintia site.
The “Compressed Gas Association” (CGA), a North American industrial gases association, presented its “Gold 2-Star Safe Facility Award 2020” to Messer Canada for its plant in Brampton, Ontario. The award recognizes 1,250,000 hours worked – 25 years – without a lost-time accident. Messer North America’s sites in Birmingham, Alabama, and Hopewell, Virginia, were also recognized: for 1,000,000 hours worked – 20 years – without a lost-time accident, both sites earned a “Gold 1-Star Award 2020.” Thirty-one other Messer plants in North America also received silver and gold awards for occupational safety.
On October 8, 2020, Messer Ibérica was honored for the seventh consecutive time with the safety award of the Spanish chemical industry employers’ association (FEIQUE) for another accident-free year. Messer Ibérica has reported zero industrial accidents for more than 18 years now at the Vila-seca air separation unit, more than 11 years at the El Morell site, and more than 10 years at the Alicante filling plant.
In 2019, the companies of the Messer Group including Western Europe held a combined total of 1,452 customer safety seminars, which were attended by 4,392 people in all. The facilities operated at our customers’ sites underwent technical inspections an average of 1.07 times and they underwent safety audits an average of 0.15 times. The 2020 fiscal year will mark the first time that the corresponding data will be available for Messer in North and South America. In 2019, we reissued our “Pocket Safety Guide” brochure series. It provides information about the safe transport and handling of gas cylinders, the safe transport of dry ice, and the content of gas cylinders.
The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of regularly disinfecting hands and surfaces and complying with hygiene measures. In 2020, Messer worked with Heraeus Noblelight to develop a mobile UV-C disinfection system for decontaminating surfaces and shapes of all kinds. To make it as versatile as possible to use, the system is designed as a hand-held device. The system from Heraeus’ Soluva product range can be used to sterilize not only production machinery and vehicles, but also public buildings and offices, as well as numerous fabrics, motor vehicle interiors, and control panels, along with many other surfaces.
Messer itself is relying on the mobile UV-C disinfection system throughout Europe to disinfect gas cylinders for medical oxygen when hospitals or patients return them for refilling. Disinfection with UV-C light offers many advantages over the chemical approach: it considerably reduces the amount of effort required; it minimizes risks for operators, consumers and the environment; and it lowers the risk of material damage to pressure tanks and their accessories.
The road transport of gases carries many risks. For that reason, the Messer Group signed the Road Safety Charter and has committed itself to placing special focus on transportation safety. In addition to the statutory regulations governing the operation of a fleet of vehicles, Messer’s own transportation safety concept has proven effective.
Logistics develops safety measures at the national and international level and logistics and safety personnel continuously exchange information about their experience relative to improving our safety performance.
For the most part, Messer employs external carriers to transport our gases. Legally required driver training courses fall under the responsibility of the carriers and are supplemented with a driver training program developed by Messer Corporate Logistics.
An on-board computer system installed in the trucks since 2019 records safety-related driving data that contribute to specifically targeted instruction. The system evaluates the vehicle’s driving data and the system’s own sensors, displaying warnings when necessary to encourage more defensive driving while out on the road. That makes transport operations safer and – through lower fuel consumption – also more eco-friendly.
At Messer, the number of preventable accidents worldwide during the transport of our cylinder gases in 2020 was 64 – that means 3.05 accidents per million kilometers driven (4.91 accidents/million miles driven). The number of preventable accidents during the transport of liquefied gases was 194; accordingly, the frequency rate per million kilometers driven during the same period was 0.89 (1.43 accidents/million miles driven).
This relatively high number is attributable to the fact that some of Messer’s statistics also include reported near misses, which constitute a non-negligible share of the incidents. Part of Messer’s safety strategy involves learning not only from accidents, but also from unsafe behavior. Logistics encourages the proactive reporting of these near misses.
Appropriate supplier management and the previously mentioned driver training courses – including ones supported by the new on-board computing system – will help to reduce the number of incidents further. In addition, all drivers receive a driver’s manual specific to their work (bulk, cylinders or service vehicles). This ensures that all important information relating to their job is readily accessible.
Messer is active in the medical business in over 20 countries and provides services ranging from consultation on the delivery of medicinal gases or gases as medical devices through to the planning, installation and maintenance of supply systems – a complete service package from a single source. Medical accessories and consumables round out the offering.
As a company that is also active in the pharmaceutical sector, Messer complies with all national, European and international regulatory requirements. For gases as medicinal products, this specifically includes the requirements of (European) Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP) and the specifications of the European Pharmacopoeia. Our gases as medical devices comply with the Medical Device Regulation (EU 2017/745), the previously applicable Medical Device Directives, and the corresponding national laws.
Internal audits, a standardized pharmacovigilance system, and validated procedures and computer systems ensure our product and supply quality.
The supply of medical oxygen to hospitals for ventilation purposes for people suffering from Covid-19 was and is especially important:
Supply to the patients during the crisis can be assured by significantly increasing production capacities, installing additional tanks and evaporators at our customers’ facilities, and providing additional transport equipment. These measures are being implemented while applying additional protection systems for our employees.
With a new filling center in Saint-Georges d'Espéranche near Lyon, Messer in France was able to satisfy the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic-driven increase in demand for medical oxygen in cylinders and bundles. The successful start-up of the filling center in early-March 2020 followed several months of preparation along with obtaining the necessary approval from the French regulatory agency for medical devices and health products.
Spain is one of the countries most affected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Like many of our neighboring chemical companies in the Tarragona chemical complex, Messer in Spain reacted rapidly and increased our production of urgently needed products. In the first weeks of the emergency, we doubled our production of medical oxygen. We delivered oxygen to 170 medical centers in all – 32 of which are hospitals with liquid supply – but also patient transport services and home care providers. We signed a new agreement with a home care provider to supply nursing homes in the Barcelona area. Our engineering and installation specialists are working intensively to expand oxygen supply to hospitals and nursing homes and to install gas supply systems in field hospitals.
Messer in Hungary supplies medical oxygen to some 140 medical facilities nationwide, nine of which are hospitals that primarily treat people suffering from Covid-19. Our teams in Filling regularly and systematically sterilize our medical gas cylinders along with the filling stations. And they carry out their work under extremely strict precautionary measures.
Messer in Serbia has been able to meet the increased demand of hospitals and clinics: as an integral part of the equipment for stockpiling and supplying medical oxygen, we installed additional tanks in the Clinical Center of Serbia, in Karaburma Military Medical Center in Belgrade, and in the military hospital in Niš. At Zemun Clinical Center, we expanded supply capacities by also adapting the central pipeline supply and three substations to the increased demand for medical oxygen. In addition, transportable cryogenic tanks were installed in the Clinical Center in Kragujevac, in Zvezdara Clinical Hospital Center, in the Infectious Disease Clinic in Belgrade, in “Dragiša Mišović” Clinical Hospital Center – the maternity and children’s hospital in Belgrade – and in Karaburma 2 Military Medical Center.
New York was affected by the coronavirus pandemic like no other metropolitan area in the USA. Due to the tremendous demand for medical oxygen, we increased production in our own plants. Newly configured truck routes ensured continuous delivery. Our teams monitored the systems every day, reacted rapidly, and collaborated closely with every hospital. This also included the solicitation of new demand quantities along with information on how to recognize when our bulk equipment might need maintenance.
The “Expofutura” convention center in Pereira, Colombia, was temporarily converted to a field hospital to treat people suffering from Covid-19. This added 45 patient beds to the region’s capacity. Messer in Colombia also installed a piping network to supply medical oxygen.
During 2020's “National Nurses Week”, Messer honored the healthcare personnel who work for the company’s own REMEO Medical Services. The REMEO program of Messer in Colombia offers life-saving medical oxygen and home care for people on artificial ventilation. Messer also remains firmly committed to supplying products to people suffering from Covid-19 – both in REMEO centers and in hospitals throughout Colombia that depend on Messer’s medical gases and services.
In Colombia, Messer is the market leader for stationary and home care, supplies hospitals with medicinal gases, and helps them develop their gas supply systems. Although the systems generally run only as far as the hospital rooms or operating rooms, in Colombia the supply is designed for the patients themselves. Along with the permanently installed infrastructure, Messer also supplies inhalers and ventilators as well as other accessories needed for the supply of medicinal gases or breathing air to individual patients. In so doing, Messer supports more than 36,000 people at home, who rely on supplemental oxygen to breath. In addition to gas in cylinders, most of them receive oxygen concentrators that filter oxygen from the surrounding air. Within the framework of its REMEO program, Messer also maintains six clinics of its own for some 350 people whose severe chronic respiratory diseases necessitate continuous care. The REMEO clinics also have sleep laboratories for treating nocturnal respiratory disorders. In all, Messer employs some 1,200 nurses and caregivers in Colombia, who are specially trained and can develop their expertise considerably through their work with REMEO.
In the Province of Tarragona, the Spanish foundation “Fundació La Muntanyeta” supports people with cerebral palsy, in order to defend their rights and improve their quality of life. More than 100 people receive care in a school, a day care center and a dormitory. In 2019, Messer actively supported the construction of a day care center and additional dormitory rooms and provided a vacuum system and medical oxygen supply for all rooms. People with cerebral palsy often suffer from respiratory trouble. According to a concept from Messer, the supply system makes it possible to provide the healthcare in the room that the affected person occupies. They can remain in their own private space, and therefore in a comfortable environment, when they need medical assistance.
Health is about more than just medicine – a positive work environment is also important for one’s well-being. For that reason, Messer in the Czech Republic furnished its headquarters in Prague with a new break area that includes a kitchen, a rest zone and two telephone rooms in 2019. And the offices of the Czech joint venture MG Odra Gas in Ostrava-Vratimov have also been renovated and equipped with sport areas. With these investments, Messer in the Czech Republic has been creating the right conditions for a satisfying, healthy workplace – and thereforealso for a motivated, effective team.
Since 2019, through its company health insurance fund, Messer Hungarogáz offers its employees the full range of private medical services. The high-quality healthcare services of Medicover are available to the employees in all medical areas, including examinations, state-of-the-art diagnostics, and hospital care. The agreement is supplemented by the full spectrum of emergency services throughout the capital city of Budapest. In this way, even in an emergency, employees and their families have ready access to high-quality medical services without waiting periods.
In 2019, once again, Messer companies in Germany donated some 5,500 euros – profit from the sale of food, beverages and stainless steel art – to the association “Hilfe für krebskranke Kinder Frankfurt e.V.” (“Frankfurt Helps Children with Cancer”). November 2019 marked already the fifth time that Messer has organized a Christmas market on Messer Square at the corporate headquarters.
In 2019, Messer started supporting the “Montbike Messer Kids” mountain bike club, where girls and boys from 5 to 14 years of age practice. They already have competed in mountain bike and cross-country races in Catalonia and other regions of Spain as well as in international competitions in France and Belgium. Three club members are already classified as Catalonian champions.
For many years now, Messer in Switzerland has been supporting the association PluSport Behindertensport Schweiz. That commitment to the promotion of disabled sports in Switzerland was recognized once again in 2019.
Messer in Slovenia supports regional sporting events in which employees of Messer Slovenija also participate. One of them is Dani Bastašic, who works as a warehouse clerk in the cylinder gases area. Each year he runs in more than ten races throughout Slovenia – including the 2019 edition of the “Vetrov tek” race, which was the 11th time it has been held in Ruše. Supported by Messer, the competition attracted many running enthusiasts of all ages.
UN Goal 4 - Quality Education
Messer is committed to the education and training of talented young professionals, who represent an important investment in the competitiveness and capability of our company. Some of that training takes place at various locations, supplemented by multi-week assignments abroad. In 2020, the training quota at the Messer was 1.3 percent.
Open dialog and in-house transmission of expertise are important to us. That’s why we promote the establishment and maintenance of cross-regional and intercultural networks. In 2020, employees participated 15,559 times – in most cases virtually – in site conferences or network meetings for strategic integration or know-how transfer. By contrast, that figure was 8,369 in 2019.
We made good use of the time during the lockdown to qualify employees. Our “Messer Innovation Forum” advanced training platform for application engineering is designed for our customers, sales representatives, sales managers, application specialists and technicians. One of the aims of the forum is to transfer know-how from the individual divisions and departments to the national entities and subsidiaries. In the first half of 2020, our application specialists conducted a total of 100 webinars, for which 1,920 colleagues in Europe, Asia and the Americas registered. The software and the presentations were also made available to our teams in France, enabling them to train some 400 additional participants at the national level.
In May 2020, we organized a virtual visit of our production site in El Morell, Spain, for more than 60 chemical engineering students and teachers at Rovira i Virgili University (URV) in Tarragona. Videos presented the separate process steps and equipment of the plant and audiovisual materials were used to provide commentary. Due to the existing restrictions, we also presented the Messer Award to URV students in a virtual ceremony. The undergraduate students defended their projects online before a jury comprised of professors and Messer employees. Representatives of the university, the Chemical Business Association of Tarragona, and Messer participated in another virtual event during which the prize for the best project was awarded.
As part of an initiative launched by the “Institute for the Blinds,” our Messer team in Hungary participated in an interesting project: With the support of two physics teachers, interactive classes were provided for blind people. Experiments and demonstrations involving the properties of our “Gases for Life” were presented in a way that they could be felt or heard. The sense of taste was also stimulated – by ice cream previously frozen with liquid nitrogen. Some of our employees volunteered to assist in the project.
Messer in Serbia supported the “Battle for knowledge” program, with the goal of supporting developmentally disabled children. This took place at special education schools with, among other things, “Bee Bots,” which look something like bees. These small, easy to use “learning robots” were procured to make the transmittal of instructional matter more fun. They help to promote equality of opportunity for these children in national and European school competitions as well as in society in general.
The purpose of any foundation should be to support projects and ideas that are given no or insufficient consideration within the framework of basic state provision. The Dr. Hans Messer Foundation also pursues this idea by supporting and recognizing scientists who gain prominence through special or outstanding achievements, by awarding scholarships and prizes, and by supporting scientific and educational establishments.
The Dr. Hans Messer Foundation’s activities encompass support and funding as well as operational aspects. It operates as a charitable foundation with legal capacity established under private law, making a varied and ongoing contribution to the promotion of science and research as well as school and vocational education. This work is becoming increasingly important in this day and age as the state is often unable to provide sufficient funding. In this way, thirst for education, innovation, scientific curiosity and pioneering spirit are rewarded.
The purpose of the Dr. Hans Messer Foundation is to be a driving force for education and science. According to its charter, the Dr. Hans Messer Foundation supports science and research, public and vocational education, and the provision of help to students. In all, more than 20 million euros have been spent for foundation purposes to date.
The board of the Dr. Hans Messer Foundation determines the focus of the foundation’s work with the aim of defining a specific direction. The focal areas can change, however, or apply for only a certain period of time. The foundation currently focuses on science and research grants primarily in STEM fields, i.e. science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The field of medicine also receives regular funding. The Dr. Hans Messer Foundation awards a number of different scholarships to students, undergraduates, doctoral candidates and professionals. In addition, special scholarship programs are also set up.
In 2020, the Dr. Hans Messer Foundation donated a pipetting robot to the Institute of Medical Virology at Frankfurt University Hospital for use in SARS-CoV-2 research. It facilitates the researchers’ work, for example, in the high-volume testing of several thousands of substances that may show potential antiviral activity. Moreover, the automated pipetting of thousands of samples can be completed much faster overall and with fewer errors.
With its webinars, the Messer Innovation Forum has become an established continuing education vehicle for application engineering at Messer. Whereas just over 1,000 people participated in 2019, we registered more than 2,600 participants in more than 164 webinars in 2020, 26 of which were external with 430 interested parties. Topics ranged across the full spectrum, including areas such as food, metallurgy, welding and cutting, industry and chemistry/environment. The platform was used by the national subsidiaries and also by ASCO. The first external webinars with our customers were also held. We plan to continue this success story with a new layout and new technology in the near future. Today we already know that our webinars are becoming an integral part of our team’s training and promoting the acquisition of new customers.
In February 2019, various departments of Messer in Bosnia-Herzegovina completed a training course developed by the Academy Messer Group. “Focus on Cylinder Gases” concentrated on the strategic improvement of marketing activities. The training course, which started in September 2018, consisted of six two-day workshops. On the first day, practical exercises were used to strengthen sales skills. The second day consisted of training on various subjects such as welding and cutting, medicine, special gases or the packaging of food under protective gases.
February 2019 marked the launch of Application Engineering’s new online continuing education platform “Messer Innovation Forum”. It uses webinars to pass along application knowledge and is oriented toward customers, salespeople, sales managers, applications specialists and technicians. One objective is to transport the know-how from the individual fields to the national subsidiaries. The scope of training covers a broad spectrum and is regularly repeated – also according to individual need.
This makes it possible to communicate specialized information quickly and cost-effectively, for example, in preparation for an upcoming customer visit. Additional benefits include reduced travel times along with fast, straightforward training for new employees. During the first two months of the program, the first webinars reached more than 250 participants.
In 2019 in Hungary, professional forums on wastewater treatment as well as gas metal arc welding, laser technology and 3D metal printing were held under the new name “Get into Gases – Messer Innovation Forum.” The purpose of these innovation forums is to present the most advanced and exciting innovation projects and trends from research and technology in a special gases application field. The two high-caliber events drew more than 260 highly qualified specialists together and ushered in a number of business opportunities. Even the professional media rated the innovation forum on welding as the foremost professional event in this field.
In 2019, Messer in Hungary gaves training courses in welding technology for metal and steel construction companies as well as for technical schools. Among other things, these courses aim to offer the future generation of welding specialists practical training that addresses the needs of the industry. Participants also get the chance to learn about the benefits of using our three-component mixtures.
UN Goal 5 - Gender Equality
Diversity and equal opportunity are anchored in our mission statement. Our forward-looking and sustainable Human Resources policies ensure a level playing field for professional success, respect cultural differences, and promote interaction among each another. For Messer, diversity is essential to innovation and sustainable business success, and mutual trust and respect form the basis of our corporate culture.
The goal of our diversity management program is to create a respectful work environment that is free of prejudice, regardless of the employees’ gender, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, ideology, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity. With that purpose in mind, we have established an interdisciplinary team.
Since 2019, Messer Group has been a recipient of the Total E-Quality Award for equal opportunity in personnel and organizational policy with the special citation for diversity. Valid for three years, the award is supported and recommended by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth as well as by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In addition, we are signatories to the “Diversity Charter,” an initiative that promotes diversity in companies and institutions under the patronage of German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel.
Contact persons responsible for diversity management will continue to strengthen and anchor it in our national subsidiaries. Moreover, our Diversity Team is already creating an international in-house training program to reveal and combat the employees’ “unconscious biases,” which represent one of the major impediments to the implementation of diversity strategies.
In December 2020, Messer published the first Diversity Report. In the meantime, we have compiled additional data that will be published in a Diversity Report in May 2021 and annually thereafter. The key indicators of the workforce relative to male or female gender are collected anonymously along with length of company service, age distribution and nationality. This monitoring will help us achieve the established objectives and manage the subject.
As of December 31, 2020, Messer employed 10,764 people; on December 31, 2019, that figure was 11,063. The share of women was 28.4 percent versus 29.5 percent in the previous year; 24percent of managers in the first and second levels of management were women, versus 26.2 percent in 2019. The decrease was partly due to a 9.1 percent reduction in the share of women in Messer Group GmbH, which was attributable in part to a change in the definition of second level management: To motivate women to accept a leadership role, since the start of 2021, team or project managers who report to first level management are now also counted as second level management.
The share of women will be increased over the long term. To that end, among other things, equality at Messer was analyzed in 2020. For example, a study was conducted to determine whether there are any inappropriate systematic inequalities in remuneration. A review of salaries paid to women and men in comparable functions revealed no gender-specific discrimination against women.
Our salaries are based on function, market, performance, education, experience and number of years of service, as well as any collective wage agreements or comparable collective wage agreements and adjustments for inflation. It goes without saying that our remuneration policy makes no distinction among genders.
In 2019, the Messer Group was recognized for equal opportunity in personnel and organization policy for the first time by the non-profit association Total E-Quality Deutschland e.V. The Total E-Quality award is supported and recommended by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth as well as by the German Federal Ministry
of Education and Research. Among the 13 new award winners, only four earned the supplementary award for “Diversity” – and one of them is the Messer Group. It is valid for three years.
In 2019, the Messer Group participated in the “Made in Germany – Made by Diversity” initiative, speaking out along with some 50 other German family-run businesses in favor of an open-minded attitude toward the outside world and against xenophobia.
In November 2019, Stefan Messer signed the Diversity Charter, sending a signal of commitment to diversity and respect at Messer. The Diversity Charter is an initiative that promotes diversity in companies and institutions under the patronage of German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. In signing the charter, the Messer Group undertakes to create a respectful work environment that is free of prejudice, regardless of gender, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or ideology, disability, age or sexual orientation and identity of the employee. The signing falls within the scope of measures developed and implemented by the Diversity team in the context of the Diversity Management program.
UN Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
Messer Group acquired the majority of Linde AG’s gases business in North America and certain Linde and Praxair business activities in South America effective March 1, 2019 in a joint venture – called Messer Industries GmbH – with CVC Capital Partners Fund VII (“CVC”). Messer Industries invested a total of around 3.6 billion US dollars (3.2 billion euros). Messer Group contributed the majority of its Western European companies to the joint venture. Over the course of the next few years, the joint venture will be fully integrated into the family-run Messer Group, thereby establishing a global gas group under the leadership of the Messer family. Messer Group’s regional operations are currently focused in Eastern Europe and Asia. Asia already represents the largest industrial gases market and is expected to have the highest growth rate in the medium term. Also with Messer Industries’ participation, in 2019 strategies were developed for the Americas and Western Europe, in order to sustain business success in the coming years. The common aim that they all share is to achieve safety, customer focus, profitable growth and fair payment for our products through a team culture focused on efficiency, success and motivation in combination with innovation and a highly satisfied workforce and clientele.
In June 2019, the cornerstone was laid for Messer’s third air separation unit in Germany. Together with the gas manufacturer basi Schoberl, Messer is investing some 32 million euros in the production of oxygen, nitrogen and argon. Construction on the grounds of SAINT-GOBAIN ISOVER G+H AG in Speyer is scheduled for completion in spring of 2020. Messer has already been supplying gases to the customer by trailer since May 2019. In the near future, the new on-site air separation unit will minimize those gas shipments and the accompanying carbon footprint.
In the period from 2017 to 2019, Messer invested 37 million euros to build up its Hungarian market. With gas production units and plants at twelve major customers, Messer is the market leader in the on-site atmospheric gases business in Hungary. In 2019, Messer signed an agreement with MOL Petrochemicals, a leading petrochemical group, for the construction of a new onsite unit to supply nitrogen and instrument air for a new polyoil complex in Tiszaújváros in northern Hungary. When the unit goes into operation in 2021, it will be one of Messer’s largest on-site units in southeastern Europe. Messer also built two new nitrogen generators in Hungary – one in Dunavarsány and one in Hatvan – and a third one is currently under construction. In response to the growing demand, the construction of two additional CO2 plants has tripled the utilization capacity of the carbon dioxide field near Ölbő, Hungary, over the past two years.
In 2020, the credit agency Bisnode D&B Schweiz AG granted Messer in Switzerland a “Credit Rating Certificate” with “Risk Indicator 1” (which stands for minimum default risk) for the tenth consecutive time. Only two percent of all companies in Switzerland meet the requirements for that best category. The certificate sets Messer in Switzerland apart as a trustworthy, reliable, financially healthy and stable business partner. Bisnode D&B is a partner in the network of Dun & Bradstreet, the world’s largest service provider for business-to-business economic data.
In 2019, Messer achieved another breakthrough in the electronics industry and put gas supply plants into operation in Sichuan at Truly and BOE for, among other things, high-purity nitrogen. BOE and Truly are leading companies in the electronics market in China. In addition, Messer China signed a supply contract for ultra-high-purity industrial gases with HKC Mianyang Photoelectric Technology Co., Ltd. HKC is a leading supplier of large-format LCD displays. In March, another CO2 recovery unit of Messer China began producing food-grade CO2. Located on the grounds of Yunnan Dawei Ammonia Producing Co., Ltd., it is Messer’s fourth CO2 unit in China and its second in Yunnan Province. Through purification and liquefaction, it converts the excess carbon dioxide generated by Dawei’s production process into quality products for use in food, pharmaceuticals, and industrial and agricultural applications
In September, Messer China laid the cornerstone for another air separation unit and a condenser in Hunan Province.
In October, a second air separation unit and a condenser were put into operation in the central Chinese city of Chongqing. The new capacity makes Messer the leading supplier of liquefied atmospheric gases in Chongqing and now also enables us to supply gas via pipeline to other industrial customers and chemical companies in the chemical park.
In 2019, Messer put two new air separation units into operation to supply industrial gases to a new Hoa Phat steelworks in Dung Quất, Quảng Ngai Province. That makes Dung Quất one of our company’s largest production sites in the world. In Hai Duong, Messer Vietnam put the fourth air separator into operation to supply the same customer. In the electronics segment, Messer has been supplying Seoul Semiconductors with oxygen from a generator since June 2019.
Since January 2020 the still-young Messer Thailand has been operating for two years. In 2019, a new head office opened in Bangkok and a bulk tank farm opened in Samut Prakan. The company expects to have its own production site within the next few years.
In 2019, Messer Industries USA invested in the construction of a new CO2 plant in Keyes, California. The plant delivers 450 tons of carbon dioxide per day and supplies many companies in northern California and surrounding areas. Carbon dioxide is primarily used in the food and beverage and electronics industries. Messer currently operates two CO2 plants and two air separation units in California.
Messer Industries USA put a new air separation unit (ASU) into operation in Adel, Georgia, investing more than 40 million dollars in the highly efficient plant. It supplies gases to companies across in the southeastern U.S., strengthening Messer’s presence in that growing region. Our customers there serve the healthcare sector, produce food and beverages, manufacture metal and glass, and operate independent welding and gas centers.
Messer Industries USA is also investing more than 34 million euros (38 million dollars) in the construction of a new air separation unit in Indianapolis, Indiana. Scheduled for completion in early 2021, the facility will produce the atmospheric gases oxygen, nitrogen and argon in technical and medical grades. Future customers will come from the healthcare sector as well as from the chemical, food and beverage, glass and metal processing industries.
In 2020, the average company service of our employees since they joined Messer was 10.2 years. Employee turnover was 13.2 percent.
Messer in Hungary established an onboarding program to improve the integration of new colleagues: new employees are assigned a personal mentor, who helps them get situated during their first months on the job and is ready to assist them in a wide range of matters. The program also includes short assignments in other departments to promote a better understanding of those roles and provide interdisciplinary context. This lets new employees get to know their key contacts better, which builds greater social cohesion and a feeling of comfort and security. Their direct supervisors discuss the integration process with them on a monthly basis.
Messer conducts employee surveys in Europe and the Americas.
In Europe, 1,421 people participated in the survey; that represents 46 percent of the European workforce. The results point to an emphasis on work safety as well as a strong, committed corporate culture: 92 percent of respondents, for example, agreed that safety is the highest priority at Messer; 92 percent also indicated that they were satisfied with how Messer has handled the Covid-19 pandemic. 94 percent of participants said they were proud to work for Messer; and 89 percent agreed that they have a positive feeling about the direction in which Messer is headed. When asked to name three areas on which our local management is focusing greater attention, respondents identified employee development, communication and digitalization.
Since the end of 2019, Messer Americas has been conducting surveys at six-month intervals, in order to determine the needs and requirements of the workforce and to establish appropriate employee development programs. In the most recent survey at the end of 2020, 54 percent of employees in the Americas participated. As in Europe, the employees gave particularly positive assessments of the safety culture and pandemic management and also strongly agreed with the strategic direction and mission of the company.
UN Goal 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Messer presented its new Silensnow technology at Solutrans in Lyon, France, on November 19 - 23, 2019. Together with its partner Frappa, Messer developed the new cryogenic Silensnow technology for the temperature-controlled transport and logistics sector. This patented process for vans uses dry ice snow – carbon dioxide in solid form at -78.5 degrees Celsius – as its source of cooling. The cooling capacity of the dry ice is achieved through an indirect cooling system. This process meets the environmental and regulatory requirements of transport companies. Moreover, Messer has developed its own service station, which makes it possible to fill the system with dry ice safely and rapidly. As a byproduct of the chemical industry, the CO2 from Messer is collected and cleaned, liquefied and appropriately certified. It is used in a variety of applications. With Silensnow, it is used as a source of cooling when transporting fresh and frozen products to urban areas.
Messer Group and Messer Industries Western Europe are pursuing the goal of a strategically and technically reoriented IT infrastructure with modern, globally established standards. A standardized and flexibly scalable IT structure will create the basic conditions for improved business processes, for greater efficiency, flexibility and agility. Online collaboration and protection against cybercrime will also be reinforced.
Moreover, Messer continuously invests in a visible, modern internet presence that offers visitors satisfactory information and an easy means of contact. User-friendly e-services, online shops and search engine-optimized content will help customers find the desired search results and thereby make their purchase decision. In operation since October 2020 under the banner “Perfect Match,” the expanded digital platform now includes local e-services and online shops for hardware products such as pressure regulators and cylinder valves. Warehouse inventories and personalized sale prices can be displayed here.
Employees in the USA and Canada have access to a new SharePoint-based intranet for greater productivity. The new communication platform is compatible with mobile devices.
Among other things, it offers a search function, links to support tools and process support tools, and quick links to frequently visited resources and websites. The new SharePoint-based intranet solution will also be available in South America, thereby increasing networking opportunities for employees of our subsidiaries in both North and South America.
Since 2020, ASCO Carbon Dioxide has been offering digital add-on products to its customers in the dry ice production segment: The “i-Series Product Line” develops the potentials and benefits of networking and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) for their dry ice production units. Based on sensor components and state-of-the-art communication technology, ASCO offers services in the area of remote access, remote data and remote management services to interested companies. With this development – just like with the market launch of the new portable CO₂ safety detectors – ASCO is addressing specific customer requests.
After 2016 and 2019, Messer, the world’s largest family-run industrial gases specialist, has once again earned the Axia Best Managed Companies Award in 2020. Presented by Deloitte, WirtschaftsWoche, Credit Suisse and the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the award and stamp of quality recognizes extremely well-managed companies. As one of the award winners, Messer once again impressed the jury with its first-class business management characterized by high innovative force, a strategy focused on the long term, and strong governance structures. In justifying the award, Deloitte observed that Messer is not only a benchmark for extremely well-managed medium-sized companies, but at the same time emblematically represents the future of Germany as a business location.
Industrial power lines must provide a great deal of electrical power, however, part of which is lost due to electrical resistance. Superconductors that conduct electricity without losses solve this problem. The prerequisite for this is a very low operating temperature. In the context of the DEMO200 project, a superconducting busbar system is being developed for series production. For DEMO200’s pilot project, which started in 2020, Messer developed a new technical approach for cooling the busbar: to reach the required operating temperature of minus 206 degrees Celsius, the minus 196 degree liquid nitrogen is further “subcooled.” For this purpose, it is fed into a vacuum-insulated tank where expansion under negative pressure cools it down to minus 209 degrees Celsius.
International: Supraleitung für Großverbraucher
Industrielle Starkstromleitungen müssen sehr viel Strom zur Verfügung stellen, ein Teil davon geht jedoch durch elektrischen Widerstand verloren. Die Lösung sind Supraleitungen, die Strom verlustfrei leiten. Voraussetzung dafür ist eine sehr tiefe Betriebstemperatur. Im Rahmen des Projektes DEMO200 soll ein supraleitendes Stromschienensystem zur Serienreife entwickelt werden. Für dessen Pilotprojekt, das 2020 startete, entwickelte Messer zur Kühlung der Stromschiene einen neuen technischen Ansatz: Um die benötigte Betriebstemperatur von minus 206 Grad Celsius zu erreichen, wird der flüssige, minus 196 Grad kalte Stickstoff weiter „unterkühlt“. Dafür gelangt er in einen vakuumisolierten Behälter, in dem er durch die Entspannung im Unterdruck auf minus 209 Grad Celsius abkühlt.
Together with twelve other partners from five European countries, the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT is carrying out the EU project “TO-SYN-FUEL.” It is designed to show how thermo catalytic reforming (TCR) can be used to convert organic waste – in this case, sewage sludge – into biofuels, green hydrogen and biochar. In 2020, a demonstration unit went into operation. It converts 500 kilograms per hour of dried sewage sludge into about 50 liters of standard-grade gasoline and diesel. Messer in Germany supported the project with regard to the technical layout along with the specification and design of the hydrogen tank.
Deutschland: Kraftstoff aus Klärschlamm
Gemeinsam mit elf weiteren Partnern aus fünf europäischen Ländern führt das Fraunhofer-Institut für Umwelt-, Sicherheits- und Energietechnik UMSICHT das EU-Projekt „TO-SYN-FUEL“ durch. Es soll zeigen, wie mit Hilfe des thermokatalytischen Reforming (TCR-Verfahren) organischer Abfall – in diesem Fall Klärschlamm –, in Biokraftstoffe, grünen Wasserstoff und Biokohle umgewandelt werden kann. 2020 ging eine Demonstrationsanlage in Betrieb, die pro Stunde 500 Kilogramm getrockneten Klärschlamm in etwa 50 Liter normgerechtes Benzin und Diesel umwandelt. Messer in Deutschland unterstützte das Projekt bezüglich der technischen Auslegung sowie der Definition und Konzeption des Wasserstofftanks.
UN Goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
By the intrinsic nature of the process, the decomposition of ambient air in our air separation units produces no toxic or environmentally harmful emissions. Even if a shutdown or a power outage occurs, only natural components of the surrounding air are emitted. When supplying our gases, only the compressed gases delivered in steel cylinders in gaseous form are considered to be packaged products. As a general rule, our customers lease steel gas cylinders from us and return the empty cylinders to us after use. After subsequent cleaning and inspection, they are 100 percent reusable, remaining in circulation for at least 30 years.
We express our CO2 footprint – in other words, the sum of all greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly by our production facilities and logistics – in CO2 equivalents (CO2e). In the 2020 financial year, that value was a combined 4.78 million metric tons of CO2e – and therefore 40,000 metric tons below the previous year’s figure. Since 2018, the quantity of emissions has been calculated separately for each production unit. Our calculation of greenhouse gases is broken down into three categories according to the GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Protocol: Direct emissions (Scope 1), indirect emissions from procured energy (Scope 2), and other direct emissions in the upstream and downstream supply chain (Scope 3).
We measure CO2 emissions intensity as coefficient CO2e per euro of sales. That value was a combined 1.53 CO2e for Messer in 2020, and therefore slightly below the combined value of 1.55 CO2e measured for 2019.
Scope 1 includes direct emissions generated by our production facilities, especially in connection with the manufacture of hydrogen, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Other direct emissions are generated by the combustion of fuel in logistics. In 2020, Scope 1 for Messer worldwide was 220,600 metric tons of CO2e. In 2019, the comparable value was 78,300 metric tons of CO2e. There are two explanations for that significant change: Firstly, the 2020 calculation also included direct emissions from North and South America for the first time. And secondly, a correction was made to reassign the scope of the bulk products used in our filling plants. Up till 2019, they had been assigned to Scope 1, and starting from 2020 they will be included under Scope 2. This shifts more than 90 percent of the associated greenhouse gas emissions, which corresponds to about 25,000 metric tons of CO2e.
In 2020, the bulk and cylinder fleet of Messer Group including Western Europe consumed 29.95 million liters of diesel fuel. In 2019, that figure was 32.3 million liters. Our fleet traveled a total of 96.98 million kilometers in 2020; that figure was 106.2 million kilometers in 2019.
The average rate of diesel fuel consumption was essentially unchanged: it was 0.310 liters per kilometer in 2019, and 0.309 liters per kilometer traveled, was the average consumption calculated in 2020.
We express the trend in distance traveled per metric ton (payload) of liquefied industrial gases or cylinder gases with an index value of 101.9, whereby the index was 100 in 2019. At Messer Group including Western European subsidiaries, the distance traveled in 2019 was 21.6 kilometers / metric ton; in 2020, that figure averaged 22.3 kilometers / metric ton. The slight degradation in this parameter resulted from, among other factors, the fact that the seamless supply of medical oxygen during the coronavirus crisis required longer routes.
Messer Americas documented this parameter for the first time in 2020, posting a value of 24.2 kilometers / metric ton.
Logistics implemented various efficiency improvement measures. Examples include:
- The introduction of an onboard computer system for trucks to promote more defensive and therefore more fuel-efficient driving
- Route planning and KPI analysis to reduce the number of kilometers driven
- Supplier audits concentrating not only on technical aspects, but also on sustainability and environmental issues and requiring the suppliers’ adherence to the ten Principles of the UN Global Compact
In Croatia, the Czech Republic, Serbia and China, Messer produces nitrous oxide in N2O plants. That gas is used in medical applications and in the electronics and food industries. In Switzerland and China, Messer operates a total of six company-owned hydrogen plants. Three other hydrogen units located on our customers’ premises in Austria and Hungary (on-site units) are not included in the calculation of our own CO2 footprint. In its gaseous state, hydrogen is used in many industrial sectors, including as a food additive in hydrogenation or fat-hardening, in heat treatment processes, as an energy source, or even as an emissions-free fuel.
Indirect CO2 emissions under Scope 2 relate to the process of producing the electricity purchased throughout the Group and totaled 4.51 million metric tons in 2020, 1.64 million metric tons of which were allocated to Messer in North and South America. The decrease versus the previous year’s value of 4.57 million metric tons, which did not yet include the quantities from Messer in North and South America, is primarily attributable to the lower emissions factor: as long as the global trend toward producing more green electricity continues, our indirect CO2 emissions under Scope 2 – which make up more than 90 percent of our total emissions – will follow that trend, till the long-term goal of climate neutrality has been achieved.
With regard to the air separation units that we develop and build, their energy-efficient design and the cost-effective procurement of energy used to operate them play major roles.
Our goal is to continuously reduce the specific energy consumption of our air separation units. That goal will be achieved through better utilization of the existing production units as well as continuous investment and specifically targeted projects that sustainably increase the energy efficiency of the units. This task falls under the purview of the Global Energy Officer (GEO), which has been a permanent function within the Messer organization since 2014.
Energy efficiency in production is expressed in the energy coefficient. It indicates how much electrical power a production unit consumed per metric ton of product it produced as compared with a theoretical “reference unit” (energy coefficient = 100). In the 2020 financial year, this value averaged 99.9 worldwide at Messer. In the previous year, the figure was 98.4, but did not yet include the activities of Messer in North and South America. For this reason, no direct comparison can be made between the energy coefficients of the 2020 and 2019 financial years.
The emissions factor was about 4.8 percent lower than the previous year. Our absolute, worldwide CO2e footprint was about 1 percent smaller in 2020, despite the fact that more electrical power was consumed overall for quantity of product manufactured. We achieved this by improving the electrical power emissions factor of our production units: the make-up of the applied energy mix featured a higher share of “green energy” than in the previous year.
In 2020, our production units consumed 10.6 TWh of electricity worldwide, which was 0.4 TWh more than in 2019. This change was attributable to a significant increase in electrical demand in Asia (+15 percent) versus 2019, while demand in Europe and the Americas fell (-6.8 and -0.9 percent, respectively). The share of intentionally purchased green electricity, i.e. electrical power beyond the average share of power from renewable energies in the grid, totaled 65 GWh.
To optimize our electricity procurement, we use continuous tenders and long-term framework agreements and continuously monitor the futures and spot markets. We have a centralized team that supports and advises our subsidiaries when they purchase electrical power. It also regularly reviews electricity costs and the use of renewable energies in the context of a comparative analysis.
Despite efficiency improvements, the Group’s indirect CO2 emissions (Scope 2) increased as a result of sales growth due to new air separation units – including the North and South American units that have now been included in the calculation for the first time – as well as due to higher utilization of existing units. Through reduction of specific electrical energy consumption, which is documented by energy coefficients, and minimization of the emissions factor relative to the purchased electricity mix, however, the absolute emissions increase remains disproportionately low.
The efficiency improvement measures in Production included:
- Replacement of obsolete, inefficient equipment by modern technology (e.g. a new air compressor in the air separation unit in Smederevo, Serbia)
- Installation of on-site units to eliminate the need for liquefied gas deliveries by truck (e.g. air separation unit in Speyer, Germany; N2 generator at Wieland, Austria)
- Implementation of Aspen DMC advanced process control software in seven air separation units
The emissions covered under Scope 3 are indirect emissions unrelated to the purchase of electrical power. Examples include the purchase of competitors’ products, business travel, and employees’ commute to their place of work. The total CO2 equivalence value for greenhouse gas emissions under Scope 3 was 43,000 metric tons. That represents a significant reduction versus the comparable figure from 2019, which was 175,000 metric tons of CO2e. Moreover, the value for 2020 also includes the figures from Messer in North and South America, which was not the case in 2019. This trend is primarily attributable to the correct allocation of product swaps in 2020: Messer sells bulk products from its own sources to competitors in exchange for product from competitors’ sources. This can significantly reduce the number of kilometers driven along with the resulting emissions.
Group-wide, our air separation units consumed 16.6 million cubic meters of water in 2020. That value was 700,000 cubic meters lower than in the 2019 financial year. Most of the water we use cools the compressors in our air separation units.
Our main manufacturing processes – air separation, CO2 purification and liquefaction – need no water for process control. Rather, they generate large quantities of heat – mainly by the compression of gases – which are usually removed by a cooling water system.
Most units have an open cooling circuit: the cooling water circulates in a loop, absorbing heat from the respective sources and discharging it to the atmosphere in an open cooling tower. In an open cooling tower, part of the circulating water evaporates and another part is removed to prevent insoluble components from thickening. Fresh water must be fed back into the system to replace the water that is evaporated and/or removed. This results in the only direct water consumption of our manufacturing processes. Directly dependent on a unit’s power consumption, the quantity of water added is around two to three cubic meters per hour per megawatt of electrical power.
Our commitment to environmental protection is also reflected by our quality management system, which regulates our operations the world over. We are certified according to ISO 14001 and RCMS in 59 consolidated companies. ISO 14001 is an internationally recognized standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It defines requirements designed to help organizations establish, implement, maintain and continuously improve their environmental management systems. RCMS certification serves the comparable purpose and function for our American production sites.
Our goal is not only to minimize our own CO2 footprint, but also to help our customers reduce their emissions as well. Through the impact of our gas applications, we achieve this with an efficient supply of gases – via on-site units, for example, or the use of green hydrogen.
Our customers use our Gases for Life in industrial processes to increase the efficiency, quality, capacity and eco-friendliness of their activities, and/or to reduce the associated emissions and costs. To maximize those effects, we work closely together with our customers. We supply application engineering equipment and expertise, help design and optimize processes, and actively support process development in the service of our customers.
The number of new bulk agreements signed by Messer Group including the Western European subsidiaries remained close to the level of the previous year: In the 2020 financial year, 29.7 percent of new contracts were signed with explicitly positive overall effect on the environment: in the 2019 financial year that figure was 26 percent.
The increased number of new contracts based on applications with positive effects on the environment include, among other things:
- An increase in the number of oxygen applications in China
- Systematic trials with and implementation of cryocondensation units
- Advanced development of oxyfuel and hydrogen-oxygen combustion technology
The installation of on-site units for the local production of industrial gases and the resulting replacement of bulk deliveries reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 3,200 metric tons of CO2e in the 2020 financial year.
In August 2020, Messer Group joined the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance to share with partner firms throughout Europe our extensive expertise in industrial gases relative to the efficient and effective use of green hydrogen. Since 2020, Messer has also been a partner in the project to expand EnBW Group’s power-to-gas plant in Grenzach-Wyhlen in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The electrolysis plant operated there will be expanded to a total electrical power of six megawatts by 2023. We are responsible for marketing the green hydrogen in the surrounding region, and this gives us an opportunity to help decarbonize the regional transportation network and the regional industry.
In the USA, Messer Industries has been successfully marketing hydrogen for mobility applications for 15 years now. Twelve locations are currently supplied, including the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina – one of the largest facilities in the world where fork lift trucks are deployed. Another focus area is the bus sector: New legislation in California (CARB / Innovative Clean Transit Regulation) and Europe (Directive 2009/33/EC on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles) oblige bus companies to gradually convert their fleets to emission-free drives by 2030. In 2020, Messer Industries set a new world record for refueling fuel cell-powered buses in series. Messer is actively involved in supplying fuel for fuel cell-powered buses in China as well: We resupply hydrogen refueling stations for them in Zhangjiagang and Chengdu.
In 2019, Messer supplies argon, methane, oxygen and acetylene to Master Solar in Šimanovci near Belgrade. The company produces equipment that makes thermal use of the sun’s energy. Along with collectors, this also includes stratified charge storage tanks for water warmed by the sun. Master Solar’s high-quality units have proven their worth even under extreme climate conditions. The gases are used for various welding processes, including CMT (cold metal transfer) welding, which produces particularly high-quality, practically splatter-free welds.
In 2019, Messer supplies CO2 and hardware to Gezhouba Environment & Engineering to neutralize alkaline wastewater. The company cleans sludge pumped from Dian Lake. The largest inland lake in Yunnan Province is polluted due to over-fertilization. An alkaline, calcareous agent is used to extract water from the sludge. That process wastewater is then highly alkaline and contains about 500 milligrams of lime per liter. Carbon dioxide, introduced with tubular reactors built by Messer, lowers the pH and softens the water. Unlike the previously used hydrochloric acid process, this method releases no chloride ions. Now the treated wastewater can be pumped right back into the lake. And process costs have also been reduced by more than 30 percent.
In June 2019, together with the Institute for Environmental Protection and Sensors IOS, Messer Slovenija organized a professional symposium on the purification of process water and wastewater in the paper and metal industries. Experts from Messer showed participants the possible uses of industrial gases and how they affect the processes of conditioning, purification and neutralization of industrial water, including specific examples from industrial practice.
UN Goal 13 - Climate Action
Under the motto “Rhine Clean-up to Go,” Messer in Germany worked together with the City of Krefeld and Krefeld’s municipal waste management service GSAK to organize a spring cleanup campaign along the banks of the Rhine. And for the official international “Rhine Clean Up Day” on September 14th, 2019, Messer employees gathered up trash from along the banks of the Rhine and brought it to a collection station set up specifically for that purpose. Germany’s longest river, the Rhine flows from Switzerland to the North Sea.
Messer supported the RhineCleanUp again in 2020 and encouraged our employees to participate in this voluntary activity that removes thoughtlessly discarded litter from the banks of the Rhine. In 2018, together with the City of Krefeld, we organized this activity for the first time. On September 12, 2020, many employees and their families answered our call once again for active environmental protection.
Bike riding is healthy and actively contributes to environmental protection. That’s why, since September 2020, Messer has made it possible for its employees in Germany to lease a company bike for a period of three years. The leased bikes or e-bikes can be ridden to work but are also available for personal use.
April 22, 2020, marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which is dedicated to strengthening our appreciation for the environment. Messer Americas took this opportunity to raise employees’ awareness and reinforce the importance of eco-friendly action – both in the workplace and in the private sphere. Customers were reminded that, within the framework of environmental protection compliance, everything will be done to support the worldwide efforts to minimize climate change.
“Earth Hour” – it’s the hour for nature. For the second time, industrial gases specialist Messer also switched the lights off at all its locations in Germany. Millions of people participated in the worldwide initiative of the WWF on March 30th, 2019, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The Tisza River in Hungary is polluted every year by a vast deluge of tons of household waste – mainly PET bottles and plastic bags – washed down from upriver areas in Ukraine and Romania. Every spring, the wave of pollution sweeps across the full breadth of the river, depositing its plastic waste in the floodplain forests along the Slovakian and Hungarian river banks. That’s why a team of wildlife filmmakers from the Filmjungle Society (Hungary) initiated the PET Cup: With strong support from local communities, the PET Cup starts with a social event to collect PET bottles. Several teams then use them to build PET boats for a race. Every year, Messer Hungarogáz supplies dry ice to stabilize the PET bottles, because dry ice generates high pressure inside the bottle. In 2019, PET Cup participants collected more than three tons of trash in three days.
In 2019 Messer Switzerland received an Environment Certificate from the association PET-Recycling Switzerland (PRS). In Lenzburg, the Messer team collected 216 kilograms of PET beverage bottles for recycling. This saved about 648 kilograms of greenhouse gases.
In 2019, the Chinese company PMG in Panzhihua received the “2018 Sichuan Environmental Integrity Enterprise” award, which specifies 22 criteria encompassing the avoidance and control of environmental pollution, environmental management, social oversight, and three other categories. Only firms that have achieved at least 95 points can earn the Environmental Integrity Award. Of all the companies that received the award, PMG was also the only one based in Panzhihua, a city in Sichuan province with a population of over one million.
UN Goal 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
The Messer Compliance Management System (Messer CMS) emphasizes our shared understanding of our fundamental values. It constitutes a mandatory framework for resolving conflicts of interest and ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulatory provisions and the inter-company and company-internal policy guidelines within all divisions of the Messer Group. The managing directors and senior management are fully committed to the Messer CMS. As a value system, it serves to foster a relationship with our internal and external stakeholders that is based on fairness, solidarity and confidence. It supports those in charge of its establishment and implementation and also seeks to prevent violations of the Messer Code, if possible in advance.
Messer Americas adheres to the Code of Conduct and also follows its own Code Supplement as well as a Supplier Code of Conduct. Other guidelines include a guideline on compliance with antitrust law, a guideline on anti-corruption (with the associated authorization form), a compliance guide for business partners (with a due diligence checklist and a sample agreement) and a data protection guideline for North America. These guidelines are available on the “Legal and Compliance” intranet site of Messer Americas.
Compliance violations and cases of justifiable suspicion
The managing directors and senior management organize their area of responsibility in a way that continuously enables employees to report violations of applicable law or the Messer Code ("compliance violations"), as well as cases of justifiable suspicion, in order to ensure prompt remedial action. In 2020, Messer received six reports through the corresponding hotlines.
New manuals for pesticides and Pharmaline gases
In 2020, the management of Messer approved new versions of the manuals for Plant Protection Products and Pharmaline gases within the Compliance Management System (CMS). The Plant Protection Products (pesticides) manual contains expanded guidelines on obligations pursuant to pesticides law for European companies concerning purchase of materials and products, production, quality control, release, storage, marketing and sale of pesticides as well as the associated controls. The manual for Pharmaline gases contains expanded guidelines for European companies on obligations pursuant to pharmaceutical law and requirements of pharmacy customers as well as Pharmaline gases.
At Messer Group GmbH, the Group IT Security Officer is responsible for coordinating security measures across all the individual companies, establishing standards, and developing the relevant expertise. By maintaining the crucially important availability of our systems, IT Security supports the sustainability of our digitalization, the physical security of our information, and the essential viability of our business processes. The IT Security services are elaborated by an international team of IT Security experts.
In the course of the year under review, we signed an agreement outsourcing most of the applications previously operated in the Messer Information Services data center in Gross-Umstadt, Germany. The purpose of this collaboration is the strategic and technical realignment of the Messer Group IT infrastructure with currently applicable, globally established standards, in order to make the IT infrastructure more effective, stable and secure, and thereby to create essential conditions for further efficiency and process improvements.
The realization of the project implements uniformly high security standards. Between December 2020 and the projected completion date of June 2021, all 110 locations of Messer Group and Messer Industries in Western Europe are to be connected to the IBM data center. Today’s very inconsistent security-related infrastructure at the locations will be standardized and uniformly administered from a central location by a team of experts of the outsourcing partner.
At Messer Americas, cybersecurity risk assessment is embedded within the company’s entire risk management program. This includes regular audits and analyses by third parties, in order to evaluate the overall cybersecurity situation and the fulfillment of the road map. The Executive Committee of Messer Americas is informed on the current cybersecurity status through regular updates provided throughout the year by the management, including the CIO and Information Services. The road map and the required financing for additional tools and resources are approved in this way.
Messer Americas regularly audits its Information Technology to protect against cybersecurity attacks and threats. Those audits cover end devices, servers, applications and data, along with cloud platforms, which are regularly monitored by members of the infrastructure and security organization, in order to ensure a rapid reaction to attacks, weaknesses or emerging threats. Messer Americas has IT security guidelines and procedures designed to ensure that the infrastructure, access and data are appropriately monitored and administered.
Employee awareness and training are an important part of Messer Americas’ cybersecurity program. This is achieved through a combination of training, communication and the use of online tools that apply social engineering concepts to assess the employees’ awareness and the potential vulnerability to threats and attacks (e.g. phishing, compromising of business e-mails, etc.).
Messer acknowledges its obligation to comply with applicable data protection regulations. Underscoring that obligation, appropriate structures have been established for the purpose of guaranteeing a continuously high level of data privacy.
Messer Americas complies with the applicable data protection laws. Data protection is handled in both Messer Group’s Code of Conduct for America and in Messer Americas’ Code Supplement. In addition, Messer Americas has adopted its own data privacy guideline for North America, which is available on the compliance web page of the Messer Americas’ North American intranet. Both the Senior Counsel & Regional Compliance Officer of Messer Americas and the Head of Human Resources for North America Business Operations are listed as contacts for questions and data protection topics. Members of Messer Americas’ legal and compliance teams are also available throughout the Americas to answer questions and address issues concerning data protection. Messer Americas also relies on external legal consultants, who provide advice on compliance questions as needed, especially in South America. Data privacy instruction is included in Messer Americas’ e-learning course on the Code of Ethics and Conduct, which includes a data privacy module. The “Code of Ethics and Conduct” e-learning course is mandatory for all Messer Americas employees.
A sustainable supply chain is one of the foundations of Messer’s economic success.
The relationships between Messer and its key suppliers play a crucial role here. Those relationships are maintained by Messer Group GmbH’s Logistics / Sourcing and Engineering / Production departments in their respective areas of expertise. These central departments take charge of or provide assistance with the Europe-wide purchasing of logistics services and special commodities, merchandise, facilities, machinery, and transport equipment, as well as vessels and containers. They are both ISO 9001-certified and have put in place robust and effective quality management systems as part of the certification process. Periodic audits of key suppliers are an essential part of supplier assessment.
The Production department helps the Messer national subsidiaries operate and maintain existing production facilities (troubleshooting, maintenance planning, know-how transfer/training, standardization) with the goal of production process optimization. The centralized computer-aided monitoring and control of equipment are used to reduce energy consumption and thereby continuously improve the profitability and CO2 footprint of our plants. Optimization opportunities developed in regular process and energy audits are consistently implemented.
The Engineering department is responsible for all technical and procurement-related aspects concerning the implementation of projects for the production of all types of gases, primarily within Europe. This includes the development and construction or conversion of plants that produce technical and medical gases. In addition to plant design, project management and construction management, this work also encompasses everything ranging from the procurement / purchasing of all required components to plant start-up. Important factors in the design and construction of new plants include the incorporation of findings and values obtained through plant and equipment operation to improve the efficiency of production facilities along with the use of technically high-quality, durable and energy-efficient components. A small group of specialists focuses on the advanced development of our processes. In that continuous further development work, we use the latest process design programs and software tools.
In collaboration with Messer GasPack, Logistics / Sourcing ensures the availability of products (all kinds of gases) and their transportation, for both Messer and its customers. This also includes the development of new logistics concepts and the rollout and operation of optimization and monitoring tools. In addition, the department handles and/or coordinates the procurement of tankers, stationary customer tanks and vaporizers throughout Europe; the procurement, lease and periodic inspection of pressurized tanks and fittings; the procurement of electricity for the production facilities; and the procurement of gases from external sources. Logistics / Sourcing also helps the national subsidiaries manage transport contracts and organize the transportation of heavy loads. Handling these specialized functions on a centralized basis not only provides economic benefits, but it also serves to maintain consistently high-quality standards throughout the company.
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic sharply restricted the ability to conduct supplier audits. All outstanding audits will be completed as soon as the situation allows again.
The audits focus primarily on the production process, the quality of the products manufactured, and sustainability. Since 2018, the key suppliers are also required to adhere to the principles of the UN Global Compact, placing additional focus not only on sustainability but also on human rights, environmental awareness and working conditions, among other things. In the event of an unsatisfactory assessment, we work together with the supplier to develop measures to improve performance. Critical non-compliance leads to rejection of the supplier.
Messer Americas used the internal assessment system to audit more suppliers in 2020. About 28.8 percent of suppliers were rated “excellent,” 57.5 percent were rated “satisfactory,” and 13.7 percent were rated “substandard.”
Messer Americas’ Procurement group handles product category management, strategic procurement and expenditure management within the procurement organization, in order to achieve savings while complying with health and safety standards at the same time. Messer Americas’ sourcing team is strategically aligned to the business and has expertise in the categories Indirect, Plants and Production, Merchant Packaged Gas, Customer Engineering Services, Logistics and Fixed Assets. In that context, Messer Americas’ sourcing team focuses on Category Management, Contract Lifecycle Management, Supplier Relationship Management and Compliance. Procurement is an integral part of our organization and works together with the operative team on all current investments. Messer Americas’ sourcing team is subject to Messer Americas’ procurement policy and Messer Americas’ procurement guidelines.
Messer Americas’ Procurement group maintains a supplier management system to guarantee quality and compliance with our standards of operating performance, safety, the environment and social responsibility. Messer’s suppliers must submit a binding acknowledgment of our Supplier Code of Conduct Declaration. Moreover, Messer in the USA measures compliance with our standards by demanding compliance with our Conflict Minerals Declaration and our Supplier Quality Declaration.
Messer Americas has a highly dedicated team of energy experts who manage electrical power, Messer’s largest variable cost. The energy team works closely with the operations team to maximize utility and efficiency by reducing power consumption during periods of high electricity prices or electrical grid emergencies.
In deregulated energy markets, the energy team has developed and implemented a strategy for direct wholesale electrical power procurement, which enables Messer to purchase electrical power directly from wholesale energy markets. The energy team uses an energy risk management program, which has provided Messer with lower and less volatile electrical power costs. In regulated energy markets, the energy team works closely together with utilities, authorities and other interest groups to ensure that Messer obtains fair and reasonable electrical power rates in line with operating costs. Messer Americas’ energy team works closely together with local, state and federal authorities to obtain allowances that reflect the operating flexibility and energy efficiency of Messer’s plants. Moreover, Messer’s participation in various industrial groups also helps shape national and state energy policy concerning current issues such as green energy, sustainability, reaction to energy demand, and the resilience of the electricity grid.