Food processors work towards energy reduction

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Unilever, Kraft foods, Social responsibility

Food giants such as Unilever, Kraft and Campina have put in place
measures to achieve significant reductions in energy consumption,
underlining the trend towards growing corporate environmental
responsibility.

For example, Campina, one of Europe's largest dairy companies, has produced a statement that outlines the measures taken to improve the group's environmental performance. Contained in the Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2003, which has been published in Dutch, German and English, it outlines investments made in recycling water, an energy consumption reduction of 2 per cent and a €6 million allocation for environmental projects.

"We do what we say and we say what we do,"​ claimed Tiny Sanders, chairman of Campina's executive board. "That's transparency. And this report is how we have chosen to account for our performance in 2003 from a social responsibility perspective."

Campina's says that its corporate policy is designed to reduce the impact of its activities on the environment, with the main focus in 2003 being on cleaner water and on using less energy. Campina says that the various investments made by the group have benefited the environment by, for example, reducing the environmental impact of production facilities in Torun (Poland) and recycling water used for rinsing purposes at the company in Winnica (Poland).

Likewise, Kraft Foods has selected Rockwell Automation's Power & Energy Management Solutions (PEMS) team to develop and execute a sustained energy reduction initiative across all its manufacturing facilities in North America.

This multiyear initiative is designed to facilitate Kraft's understanding and management of how energy is used within its plants and help the company identify opportunities to reduce energy costs through lower consumption. Rockwell Automation, a leading provider of industrial automation power, control and information solutions, is therefore helping Kraft adapt to new environmental expectations.

As with Campina's Corporate Social Responsibility Report, Kraft's involvement with Rockwell Automation illustrates just how much changing opinions concerning waste, energy consumption and emissions are forcing manufacturers to alter their methods of operation. Big food manufacturers such as Kraft need to be tuned in to these changes if they are to meet new government regulations, appease public opinion and make potentially substantial savings.

Unilever is another food giant that has actively been looking at ways to achieve energy reductions. A distribution centre in Coventry, UK for example has been fitted with state-of-the-art insulation and energy re-use facilities and has produced savings in refrigeration costs of some 40 per cent compared with traditional designs.

Much of this improvement comes from special mats beneath the cold store which re-use heat from the refrigeration plants. The company claims that the building has been designed to blend into the landscape.

Unilever claims that it is leading the industry in this respect - the Unilever Bestfoods UK (UBF) division has saved £1.34 million since 2001 by reducing energy use. The company, which manufactures brands such as Marmite, Flora and Pot Noodle, has cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 14 861 tonnes.

Government pressure has been a decisive factor. In 2001, the UK Government introduced the Climate Change Levy, a business tax on energy use. Companies who reduce energy consumption in line with government targets are eligible for an 80 per cent tax discount. To qualify, UBF must reduce energy use by 10 per cent at its manufacturing sites by 2010. Interim targets are set and reviewed every two years.

To meet these targets UBF has installed energy efficient equipment and reduced leaks of compressed air and steam. 'Switch it off' campaigns are used to raise awareness and motivate staff to save energy.

Since 2001 all but one of the company's nine sites have exceeded their interim target. This entitles UBF to sell CO2 allowances to other companies and this will generate further revenue. UBF expects to save a further £1.34 million by achieving its targets for 2004.

Related topics: Ingredients

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