Issue 34

Green initiatives power development

Arla Foods Ingredients moves processing Closer to Nature

Each paper sack used to package Arla Foods Ingredients’ innovative whey products has become up to 50g lighter after the switch from a three-layer to a two-layer design. With around two million 15-20kg sacks filled each year, the initiative has reduced annual paper consumption by ninety tonnes at the whey processing plant in Denmark. Beyond the clear reduction in resource consumption and costs, the two-layer sack has an additional benefit – its increased strength, resulting in fewer returns and more satisfied customers. 

This all-round win is one of the many ongoing improvements by Arla Foods Ingredients to reduce the environmental burden of its activities. “We use a lot of energy and other resources for our powder production, so, of course, environmental management is important. In the 17 years since we produced our first annual green accounts, environmental awareness has become even more integrated in our processes,” comments Erik Vesløv, site director.

Cutbacks on energy
It means a lot to the plant that the processes used are as energy-efficient as possible. Heat recovery, valve insulation and variable-speed drives, for example, have made significant inroads in energy consumption. In 2012, the new spray-drying tower currently under construction will go into operation – a model of the latest energy-saving technology.

“With its built-in energy efficiency, the tower will reduce our energy consumption by 10% per kilo powder produced,” says Vesløv. The plant can then look forward to the realisation of the Arla Group’s biogas project. If all goes according to plan, renewable biogas will meet a significant part of the plant’s overall energy needs from 2014.

20% less water consumption
Investments totalling DKK16 million (EUR 2.1 million) have brought about a 20% reduction in water consumption in the past year alone, most notably due to increased water recycling. Ultraviolet water purification in the plant’s water treatment plant is also under implementation to ensure the highest microbiological quality of reclaimed water, allowing it to replace well water.

Water, energy and cleaning chemicals are all necessary for keeping the processing equipment clean and maintaining the high product quality. Here, external experts are assisting with a complete cleaning in place review to enable further reductions in consumption. When it comes to sustainable development, Arla Foods Ingredients is strongly committed to its Closer to Nature philosophy. That much is clear from the continuous improvement programme. It just never ends.