In 2018, Methanex saw improvements in many aspects of our Responsible Care and sustainability performance. These achievements were the result of well-established Responsible Care governance, strategies, and management systems.
Our seventh successful verification by the Chemical Industry Association of Canada (the most comprehensive review of our global Responsible Care program to date) soundly affirmed the strength of our Responsible Care ethic and management system. The verification team’s praise for the level of knowledge, support, and enthusiasm for the Responsible Care Ethic and Principles for Sustainability they found throughout our regions is reflected in our performance. We still have work to do in some areas, but we’re on the right track.
Last year we had very good results and solid progress in process safety, environmental performance, and social responsibility. We have achieved these results by continuously staying focused on our strategies for operational excellence, which include running safe and reliable plants. However, even with our steadfast commitment to a zero-injury workplace, we experienced a higher injury-frequency rate in 2018 than in 2017, and we realize we have more work to do to meet our occupational safety goals. We are confident that continuing to focus on Responsible Care leadership and cultivate a learning culture in our workforce will produce the results we’re aiming for and have lasting effects on our team members.
We had zero significant spills in 2018. We have enhanced process-safety management systems and effective application of lessons learned to prevent spills to the environment. A focus on plant reliability, use of the latest technologies in our newer plants, and refurbishment of our older plants are measures contributing to sustained improvements in emissions intensity across our sites. We continue to incrementally improve our energy efficiency, minimize emissions, and conserve natural resources in manufacturing methanol while exploring opportunities to bring methanol into cleaner fuel and energy applications.
Methanex’s global team and system of integrated capabilities enable us to deliver on our promise of unmatched, secure supply of methanol and Responsible Care leadership.
We continue to identify, develop, and support emerging opportunities for methanol as cleaner energy and work closely with industry stakeholders in the areas of marine fuel, automotive fuel blending, and methanol to power. Through our wholly owned subsidiary, Waterfront Shipping, we operate a growing fleet of vessels capable of running on methanol and reducing emissions, in compliance with the International Marine Organization’s (IMO) new requirements for low-sulphur fuels taking effect on January 1, 2020. Our work with partners in China to pilot the use of high-level blends of methanol as an automotive fuel is producing significant results. Two cities in China have recently converted the majority of their taxis to operate on 100% methanol fuel, and interest is growing for use of methanol as a clean-burning fuel to replace coal in the industrial boiler and kiln industries.
As the market for methanol continues to grow, so does the importance of our work in product stewardship. In 2018, we reached record numbers of people with information about methanol and Responsible Care, one part of our multi-pronged approach to making sure methanol travels safely from origin to destination. Through well-established and industry-leading programs involving industry partnerships, inspection programs, Responsible Care seminars, collaboration with government, and coordination of emergency planning with community partners, we continue to evolve our Product Stewardship program to address changing needs. See our Product Stewardship chapter for many stories about our work in this area.
A network of global production sites, a fleet of dedicated ocean vessels, an integrated global supply chain, and highly responsive local customer service support allow us to carry out our business.
This network also allows us to create meaningful impacts in the world, both through the role that our product plays in everyday lives and in the many ways that we contribute to the communities where we operate and live.
Continuously developing our people is how we maintain our leadership position. In 2018, 185 team members spent approximately 7,300 hours in leadership training, and even more engaged in our learning and development programs, a key pillar of our culture and one that we are continually improving. Every story in this report—from partnerships in Egypt and China to safety efforts for turnarounds, health promotion programs, collaborations with universities, and burgeoning seminars about Responsible Care—is evidence of the skill, innovation, and commitment our people bring to their work.
The consistent execution of our strategy happens at every level of our organization, from management to the teams in each of our regions—a far-reaching group united by our commitment to Responsible Care and to working together as One Team. Each year, I take pride in the ongoing dedication of our people and teams, not just at work but in the efforts they devote to giving back to the communities where they live. In 2018, we again made significant contributions in all of our locations around the globe, through corporate investments and the volunteer efforts of our people. Across these regions, nearly USD $1.5 million and over 12,000 hours were spent supporting our communities. Giving back to our communities and being a good neighbour are expressions of our values and are fundamental to our culture.
Collaboration—within the company, and with our stakeholders—is essential to advancing our strategy. With talented, committed teams, sound practices based on the Responsible Care Ethic and Principles for Sustainability, and a firm commitment to operational excellence and Responsible Care leadership, we are creating a bright future, together.
President and Chief Executive Officer