CPChem and BNSF: Superior Sustainability and Service

Written by Caitlyn Oxford-Willig, Staff Writer, BNSF
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For several years, Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem) and BNSF have worked closely on improving successful service and sustainability practices.

CPChem was one of the customers honored during our inaugural BNSF Sustainability Awards for making their operations more sustainable. They are also a member of our Sustainable Freight Leadership Council, which provides a platform for BNSF and industry thought leaders to share expertise and learn from each other with the goal of making a lasting impact on global carbon emissions while creating more sustainable supply chains.  

One example of this is BNSF’s and CPChem’s collaboration on the Empty Hopper Car Optimization initiative. CPChem was one of the first customers to engage with BNSF on a project like this. This initiative supports the reduction of carbon emissions and increases fuel efficiency because it minimizes miles, handlings and transit on the return of CPChem’s empty private hopper cars. Since the program started in 2020, together we have saved 1.6 million miles and 46,000 transit days and eliminated more than 31,000 rail car handlings departing yards. 

“Private car optimization is a great collaboration initiative between BNSF and CPChem. It has a range of important benefits, including the reduction of risk due to fewer car handlings,” Brandon Archambeau, BNSF’s assistant vice president for Merchandise Service Design, said.

As one of the world’s top producers of ethylene and polyethylene, CPChem has been advancing the circular economy through investments and rail movement of circular polyethylene. A circular economy extends the use of existing materials and products. In 2020, CPChem was the first company in the United States to announce its success in commercial scale production of circular polyethylene made using advanced recycling technology under the Marlex® Anew™ product line. Its goal is to produce 1 billion pounds of circular polyethylene by 2030. 

“BNSF Railway is pleased to collaborate with CPChem to integrate rail into CPChem’s advanced recycling supply chain,” Vice President of Environment and Sustainability John Lovenburg said. “These circular solutions upcycle waste into new product, reducing landfilled materials.” 

CPChem is also working with the Plastics Industry Association by participating in a New-End Market Opportunities (NEMO) study. In addition to other applications, the study analyzes the performance of post-use plastic as paving material. CPChem recently used a specialized asphalt mix containing approximately 1,000 kilograms of recycled plastic to pave a 67,000 square-foot parking lot at its Port Arthur, Texas, facility. The material is estimated to contain the equivalent of more than 191,000 plastic bags.

CPChem has repaved roads at several facilities with plastic asphalt. The plastic asphalt looks and acts the same as traditional asphalt but uses thousands of pounds of recycled waste plastic that was diverted from landfill. Photo courtesy of CPChem.

Recently, BNSF teams have worked with CPChem to provide continued service, ensuring its plants and customers can operate consistently. Through creative operating solutions, transparency and communication, we’ve assisted CPChem in improving and maintaining its services. These efforts allow CPChem to continue to work on sustainability while operating reliably.  

At its Cedar Bayou plant near Houston, CPChem recognized the need to improve communication and outline new, mutually agreed-upon communication practices for safer and seamless railcar service. We also trained Cedar Bayou Plant employees in how to use our web tool for railcar management.  

“CPChem has always appreciated the collaboration with BNSF to find innovative ways to improve how we work together,” CPChem Rail Services Manager Samantha Norris said.

The Cedar Bayou facility in Baytown, Texas, is situated on 1,800 acres of land in the heart of the Houston Ship Channel region, 28 miles east of Houston. Photo courtesy of CPChem.

We helped reduce dwell times in Dayton by adjusting the workload throughout different shifts to enable on-time train departures and consistently meet CPChem’s processing window. Our operations and service design teams also audited spot and pull schedules to help ensure accurate reporting.  

Minimizing our impact on the planet is important, and we work alongside our customers to achieve that goal. Companies like CPChem are implementing sustainable practices in their industries as well as the rail industry. At BNSF, we do more than just help customers reduce carbon emissions, and CPChem is a great ally in our efforts.

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