CO₂e calculation per product: Uelzena eG focuses on integrated energy and environmental accounting
Uelzena eG has set itself the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions along the entire value-added chain. To deliver on this initiative, the company has expedited the development of an integrated energy and environmental accounting system. This new approach makes it possible for Uelzena eG to precisely determine its CO₂e footprint and derive targeted measures to reduce emissions.
.Sustainability – a core challenge for dairies
Dairies are also tasked with reviewing and further developing their sustainability strategies to ensure they can meet future requirements. The increasing significance of environmental issues and the growing demand from customers for transparency and sustainability have prompted Uelzena to develop a methodology to measure the CO₂-equivalent (CO₂e) per product and article. We have been recording CO₂e emissions in production since 2014, however it has not been possible to review the CO₂e emissions per product in detail to date. Reviewing the upstream area of production proved to be crucial as potential sources of emission could be identified and corresponding action can be taken.
The Uelzena Group has embraced this issue at an early stage and recognised that it is essential to take a holistic view of the entire value-added chain. To reduce the greenhouse gas emissions along this chain requires a detailed analysis and recording the emissions of every individual step. These include both direct emissions, which are generated in the production sites, and indirect emissions from upstream and downstream areas.
TÜV-certified methodology for CO₂e accounting
In collaboration with GKC Dairy and Food Consulting AG, Uelzena eG has developed a solution that is tailored to the company and its needs, based on the trade software FELIX® to fulfil the rising requirements and demand in the future – integrated energy and environmental accounting.
The conception phase of the integrated energy and environmental accounting began back in 2019. Implementation at the main site in Uelzen was in May 2021 and the system was rolled out to the other sites at the end of 2021. In tandem with this, we were working towards TÜV certification. The methodology of the integrated energy and environmental accounting has been officially certified since September 2022. Initially, the project began without any time pressure, however it was implemented quicker than scheduled due to our own motivation, the increasing significance of environmental aspects and customer requests. Timo Klabunde, who was leading the project and is the Controlling Manager at Uelzena, stresses the importance of this development: “The integrated energy and environmental accounting system is a milestone for us towards more sustainable production.”
Uelzena used its existing controlling software to develop the methodology and worked closely with an external consultant in order to integrate the methodology in the existing (process/primary) cost accounting system. In addition to the cost in euros per kg product, the CO₂e value per kg product is now also calculated. In total, Uelzena can now calculate the CO₂e value per kg product of more than 800 articles.
This methodology is based on the international standards of ISO 14040:2021-02 and ISO 14044:2021-02, as well as on sector-specific recommendations of the International Dairy Federation (IDF) and the European Dairy Association (EDA). It offers Uelzena eG a solid basis for establishing the CO₂e footprint per article and to identify potential for optimisation.
An internally developed method handbook provides guidance and defines the framework for recording and assessing. Based on the ISO standards, it describes the individual steps of energy and environmental cost accounting in detail, thereby supporting the implementation of the life cycle assessment. It describes how to set up a life cycle assessment study in detail, outlines methodology requirements and provides practical information and work instructions to ensure the method is consistently applied. This handbook was prepared in close cooperation with internal experts, as well as external consultants, to ensure that the methodology conforms with Uelzena’s specific requirements.
CO₂e reduction as a result of integrated energy and environmental accounting
The implementation of integrated energy and environmental accounting is already in full swing at Uelzena eG. Extensive data has been collected with which to calculate the CO₂e footprint for various products and articles. Not only are the direct emissions from processing being recorded, indirect emissions from the procurement of raw ingredients such as cocoa and sugar are also included. For the time being, however, Uelzena has decided not to include distribution and shipment in the review in order to focus on its own production and to enable targeted CO₂e savings.
We use data from the EcoInvent database to provide emission factors for various product components such as flavours, cocoa and sugar. The calculated CO₂e values per kg flavouring or cocoa takes the ingredient origin from various countries into account. However, the analysis includes the upstream and downstream contributors to the value-added chain but stops at the site gate, excluding distribution and shipment to customers. We aim to refine the database for the upstream value-added chain, especially at farm level, and to gather more specific information from our own dairy farmers. Currently, the data calculations are based on the IFEU value from 2014, which represents the average in Germany. In a joint project – systematic climate accounting – with the Chamber of Agriculture, we aim to record the actual values of our milk producers. The initial results indicate that our regional producers perform better than the average in Germany.
“The diversity of customer enquiries with different systems and questionnaires, as well as the lack of consistency in the methods used to calculate CO₂e cause difficulties and varying statements of CO₂e values for dairy products. The aim is to establish a consistent climate accounting system for the dairy industry.“
Timo Klabunde, Controlling Manager, Uelzena eG
One critical aspect is to amplify customer sensitivity, and the sensitivity within our own company, for this topic. Uelzena places great importance on all our employees appreciating the significance of the programme and actively being able to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Training and regular communication will increase awareness of sustainability and encourage all parties to get involved. A special presentation for sales and marketing has also been prepared to make critical information available to customers.
For the future, Uelzena plans to continue developing the methodology and expanding the programme to include additional environmental aspects. In addition, the company strives to strengthen collaboration with suppliers to jointly work towards reducing CO₂e emissions along the value-added chain.
The results of the integrated energy and environmental accounting will be regularly evaluated and incorporated in future sustainability reports by Uelzena eG. In this way, the company offers its customers, employees and the entire dairy industry transparency over its efforts to improve sustainability
By implementing the integrated energy and environmental accounting, Uelzena eG has taken a significant step regarding sustainability. It shows that the company takes its responsibility seriously and is actively contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The dairy industry in general benefits from these efforts as they provide motivation for more environmentally friendly production and encourages companies who are just starting.
Uelzena is currently working closely with other stakeholders in order to establish a consistent and sector-specific methodology. Furthermore, the company is planning a collaborative project on systematic climate accounting with other dairies and the Chamber of Agriculture to specifically support data collection at the farm level.