Production

Striving for efficiency

Within five years, we have reduced our absolute greenhouse gas emissions by almost 44 percent - while at the same time increasing our annual production output significantly. We are heading in the right direction of ensuring that our growth becomes independent from the consumption of resources and from emissions. 

Everyone is well aware that the Uelzena Group is a resource-intensive company.
It is not only agricultural raw materials that we need for our production processes but it is also larger amounts of natural resources including fresh water and natural gas for the generation of energy. At the same time, the production processes inevitably generate greenhouse gas emissions, waste and wastewater.

It is in the interests of everybody to keep the environmental impact of our production processes as low as possible and to use the natural, partly non-renewable resources as efficiently as possible. This striving for efficiency is part of our corporate responsibility. Of course, the company also benefits because each investment into efficiency strengthens our competitiveness.  In the long run, our aim is to ensure that the growth of the company is independent from the consumption of resources and emissions.

Over the last few years, we have been successful with this aim. For example, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions in the period from 2012 to 2016 by almost 44 percent. This is an excellent result given the short period of time. As a comparison: the Federal Government in its climate protection plan has decided to reduce German greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2050 by 80 to 90 percent. For the industry, the Government set an intermediate goal until 2030 of approximately 50 percent and 34 percent for the agricultural sector.

Our management approach: Production

Energy, water, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and wastewater are the key sustainability aspects involved in our production. Our Stakeholders and here in particular customers within the scope of their supply chain management, authorities and communities as well as our members as shareholders are asking about how we intend to handle these aspects.

We manage these sustainability aspects in an active manner. Our objectives are: to continuously reduce emissions and consumption of resources per ton of product produced while increasing productivity at the same time. We are achieving this by implementing a whole series of Measures including a systematic energy management system at all sites, operating our own wastewater treatment plants and recycling waste. We will expand or supplement this set of measures as needed.

"Investments in modern technologies in our Ratzeburg facility will increase productivity as well as energy efficency."

Olaf Braumann, Managing Director Production and Technology, Schoppe & Schultz

Energy and emissions

In 2016, we invested into energy efficiency at all of our sites. Our cheese making facility in Altmark has adjusted their heating system and now uses regenerative heat from power generation to heat water for their cheese mould dishwasher. In doing so, the exhaust heat of its in-house co-generation power plant can be even better utilized on site. In Uelzen we have improved the utilization rate of process heat by new and more effective heat recovery systems. Following large efficiency gains in 2015, our site in Ratzeburg (Schoppe & Schulz) implemented several smaller projects in 2016 such as new filters for the product infeed of the spraying tower. In Warmsen the production area was equipped with LED luminaires and the energy efficiency of several electric motors was improved by a frequency control.

Water and labor productivity

The cheese making facility in Altmark decreased its fresh water consumption by using vapor water in their steam vessels. Added to that, since 2016 the management has established measurable goals for the employees in order to implement successes and optimization in a more systematic manner. Within the reporting period, a large multi-annual improvement program (Production OC 2025) has started at Uelzen. The program aims at increasing the competency of employees and senior managers. The facility in Warmsen also invested in rationalization measures, for example, a new stretch film-wrapping machine, which helps to save labor time.

 

Results 2016: Production

In 2016, we calculated an achievement value of 99.9 percent for the action field production. We can be more than satisfied with this result. It shows that we have almost fully reached our annual interim goals that we defined in-house. This positive development is reflected in several ecological individual indicators. Almost all indicators show that our relative and absolute consumptions and emissions are continuously on the decrease compared to production output; this applies for the majority of absolute figures as well. See also Audit letter.

GRI indicators

Energy consumption within the organization (G4-EN3): In total energy input rose in line with our higher production quantity from 241,682,270 kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2015 to 243,082,118 kWh in 2016. However, several efficiency measures in our plants have resulted in an improvement in energy intensity (G4-EN5). We are now using less energy per kilogram (kg) of product; instead of 1.229 kWh/kg in 2015, it was precisely 1.200 kWh/kg in 2016.  

Direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions (G4-EN15 and G4-EN16): Because of the efficiency measures undertaken in 2016, the absolute greenhouse gas emissions were lower in the reporting period than in the previous year; they fell from 29,496 tons (t) to 28,853 t. The greenhouse gas emission intensity has also improved continuously since 2012. This means that in 2016 we emitted only 0.142 kg of greenhouse gas per kg of product. In the previous year it was 0.150 kg/kg of product and in 2012 it was 0.197 kg/kg. Hence we have improved this value during the period from 2012 to 2016 by more than 51 percent.

Total water withdrawal (G4-EN8): Our water consumption also shows positive development. In 2016, we used 1,037,194 cubic meters (m³); in 2015 it was 1,082,842 m³. It is remarkable that here again the water consumption per t of product constantly fell from 5.60 m³/t in 2012 to 5.12 m³/t in the reporting period.

Total water discharge (G4-EN22): Our wastewater quantity in 2016 was precisely 637,914 m³; this is 9,293 m³ less than in 2015. The wastewater quantity per t of product also fell constantly from 3.49 m³/t in 2012 to 3.15 m³/t in 2016.

Total weight of waste and disposal method (G4-EN23): The total weight of waste also fell from 1,348.81 t in 2015 to 1,333.21 t in 2016. Positive: The share of recyclable waste in relation to the production quantity in 2016 was 77 percent; this is the highest share since 2012.

 

Our sustainable production strategy – overview on our targets and measures

Production and environment

  • Our aim is to reduce the emission of undesired substances into the environment per ton of product produced. These emissions include greenhouse gases as well as waste water and waste.
  • Our aim is to continually reduce the consumption of natural resources such as fresh water or gas per ton of product produced.
  • Our aim is to continually increase our productivity.

Energy and climate

  • Some examples of measures that were implemented for further increasing energy efficiency: new heat recovery systems, high-performance electric motors and energy-efficient LED lights.
  • Cogeneration units at Uelzen and Bismark to generate heat, steam and electricity that we consume in a high efficiently way. The efficiency is 84 percent at each plant; this is 14 percent above the legally defined efficiency for such type of powder plants. In terms of electricity, the generated surplus is sold by Uelzena and fed into the public power network.
  • Certified energy management according to ISO 50001 that we use to continually improve the energy efficiency at all of our sites.

Wastewater and water

  • We save water by using it several times in our production processes as far as is hygienically possible. We even re-use condensed steam for the generation of steam.
  • At our Warmsen site, an on-site sewage treatment plant cleans the waste water from the facility. It then has the quality of river water.
  • At our other sites, we discharge our waste water into local municipal sewage plants. The waste water quantity as well as the waste water load are constantly optimized using a management process and on-site measures.

Waste

  • We separate our waste and recycle reusable materials including paper, wood and plastics.
  • Added to that, Uelzena prevents excess waste from deliveries if possible by respective previous agreements with suppliers.