Energy & Emissions

Cutting CO₂ emissions by 20% from field to fork

The Broader Context


According to the United Nations, climate change “is one of the major challenges of our time and adds considerable stress to our societies and to the environment¹.” As the earth’s climate changes, scientists expect extreme weather patterns to follow. This includes severe rain and storms, and searing heat and droughts.  

Limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as agreed in the Paris Climate Treaty in December 2015, is the key challenge (SDG13) for governments, businesses and citizens around the globe.

Despite not being heavily impacted so far, the northwest of Europe, and the Netherlands specifically, is  at risk from steadily rising sea levels, the impact of which will be visible this century².

Flooding due to heavy rainfall is another concern, which can lead to arable crops being damaged when potato fields cannot be drained fast enough.

Of all global greenhouse gases (GHG), 24% are linked to agriculture and food production. This means our business is not only dependent on nature for the cultivation of potatoes, but also an emitter of GHG emissions. We are also directly exposed to climate change, for example through the increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and droughts, as northwest Europe experienced during the summer of 2018. This impacts our ability to supply sufficient, high-quality potatoes (see the Sustainable Agriculture for more information).  

At LW/M, we consider ourselves a frontrunner within our sector in terms of reducing energy and GHG emissions. We want to set the standard for good environmental stewardship. We are currently in the process of developing our new energy & emissions strategy, which will focus on emissions first, energy second. We are developing this strategy in partnership with external consultants, and are searching for partners with whom we ‘swap’ energy, thereby making the most of the heat we produce and the greenhouse gases we emit.

[1] http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/climate-change/
[2] According to the most recent scenarios of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, sea levels on the Southern North Sea will be 25 to 80 cm higher in 2071-2100 (averaged year 2085) than in 1981-2010. For 2100 an upper level of sea level rise is projected at 100 cm. In addition, the subsidence of the Dutch soil will continue up to 4 mm/year, depending on the location in the Netherlands. See: https://www.climatechangepost.com/netherlands/coastal-floods/

Objective

Our 2020 objective is to reduce direct energy usage per tonne of finished product by 30%, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy at the same level. Additionally, we are focused on reducing the total carbon footprint in our supply chain.


2018 Results versus 2008 baseline

  • Energy intensity was reduced by 23.9%
  • Emissions intensity - energy related - was reduced by 29.8%
  • We cut our total product carbon footprint by 20.4%
  • We reduced our road kilometers by 6.5 million per year and reduced GHG emissions from transporting goods to our customers by 6,033 MT CO2 equivalent (-8.8%).

‘The project providing us with waste heat from LW/M’s Kruiningen plant is fantastic. While it’s small scale, it allows us to build a framework on which to expand. For example, while we currently use the heat for one of our storage areas, we hope to be able to expand to other storage areas, or even to use the heat for our offices, in the future. This is a very sustainable way of drying the onions. Not only does it mean we don’t have to burn so much gas to create the heat, reducing our CO2 emissions, it is also a better drying method. Burning gas produces some humidity, while the truly dry heat delivered by LW/M means the onions are dried more efficiently.’

Chayenne Wiskerke
CEO Wiskerke Onions
Kruiningen, the Netherlands

‘Every six weeks the Water, Energy and Emissions (WEE) team meets and we discuss our energy performance, and how we could improve. This is a great forum to exchange ideas and best practices aimed at lowering our energy use. We have implemented a number of projects to save energy at Bergen op Zoom in recent months, but the most important one is the heat recovery system in our potato blanchers. The system removes some of the heat from the water exiting the blanchers, and we use it to pre-heat the water going into the blanchers. This saves us 10 m3 of gas per tonne of produced product, which is a fantastic saving.’  

Luc Wuijts
Maintenance Engineer
LW/M Bergen op Zoom
Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands

‘Through our cooperation we have come to see see that LW/M is open to a broad range of suggestions. They want to evaluate the different sustainability options open to them, and they like to inspire and be inspired. They are looking for innovative ways to make a difference, for example by sharing their waste heat with a neighbouring business. We have the feeling that we are on a learning curve with LW/M, and that together we make progress with our sustainability agenda, which helps us to be a better organisation. We both want to be frontrunners in sustainability, and it is clear that our collaboration makes us stronger.’

Jan van Nieuwenhuijzen
Managing Director ENGIE Refrigeration
Zoetermeer, the Netherlands

Key Results 2017 – 2018

We continued to work hard on energy efficiency across our plants, and are on track to reach our 2020 objective of a 30% reduction versus our baseline year 2008. We have included figures from our Broekhuizenvorst plant in this report, resulting in a slight deterioration in our overall progress versus our target. It will take some time to optimise the energy usage in this plant, which will have an impact on our 2020 goal.

The period under review was characterised by the optimisation of a number of projects we first introduced in our last report. The progress we made on those, and our next steps, are detailed below.

Premium Product Line (PPL)

We reported previously on the introduction of a Premium Product Line (PPL) at our Bergen op Zoom plant in the Netherlands. An ultra-modern production line for premium frozen potato products, the PPL helps us meet the growing international demand for high-quality potato products. At the same time, using the most efficient technologies available helps us save energy. The main developments within the PPL over the last two years were:

  • We fine-tuned the PPL, optimising the system’s running. At a process level, we saw that we could make some simple improvements that resulted in a reduction in water and energy usage.
  • We developed a system which decreased our wastewater temperature to an optimum temperature level for our wastewater treatment plant, and now use this waste heat in our production process. This reduces our need to produce and consume steam, saving energy.
  • Because the PPL is producing high-quality products, energy consumption is higher than for our regular products. It is clear that as we see a shift towards premium products, it will be ever-more important to look for the most energy efficient technologies available.

Pulsed Electric Field (PEF)

Our Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) technology has been a resounding success, saving water, energy, raw materials, and producing a higher quality end product. PEF replaces the traditional 'preheating' of potatoes, which prepares potato tubers before they are cut efficiently into French fries. The result is less starch is lost during cutting, and we lose less product due to fewer broken strips. Our plan is to continue to rollout PEF technology across our plants.

Biogas boiler in Oosterbierum

In the past, we ran a biogas motor on biogas produced at our wastewater treatment plant in Oosterbierum, producing electricity from this gas. In the past, we were not always able to use the heat from the biogas motor. Today, we are using heat produced from our biogas boilers across all our plants. This increased our energy efficiency from biogas from 45% to 90%.

LED lighting

We are in the process of replacing the lighting across our plants with LED lighting. This is a major effort that we aim to complete by 2020. It reduces the frequency of bulb replacements, saves maintenance costs, and cuts energy costs as LED lights are more energy efficient. This is an additional step in reducing our CO2 emissions from electricity and shows we also care about the small things, as this reduces our electricity use by ~0.5%. For our head office and other offices that we own, we will switch to LED during the scheduled replacements of current lighting.

Renewable energy

Over the past two years we have taken a major step forward in reducing our CO2-emissions from energy. We now purchase and use electricity from renewable sources at five of our six plants. At our newly acquired facility in Broekhuizenvorst, we will switch to electricity from renewable sources in 2019. Currently, 14% of our total energy use (gas and electricity) across all our plants comes from renewable sources.    

Sharing best practices

Sharing best practices is a key way to increase efficiency within the company. Over the last two years we have expanded a number of successful projects company wide, all of which have helped us cut our energy use and reduce emissions. These include:

  • We installed eco-peelers across the company. The eco-peeler removes potato peel more efficiently than traditional steam peelers, and uses 20% less steam per tonne of potatoes peeled.
  • We added two plants to our energy management system, meaning that all our plants are ISO 50001 certified. The Broekhuizenvorst plant, which we acquired in 2017, will be included in our company energy management system in 2019. After certification this plant will added to our ISO 50001 multi-site certificate.
  • All our plants were transferred from stand-alone ISO 14001 certificates to a multi-site system in 2017 and audited against the ISO 14001 HLS standard in 2018. This helps us to run our environmental management system more efficiently and effectively, supports best practices sharing, and reduces the number of external audits. Our Broekhuizenvorst plant will be added to this system, and aims to be certified in 2019.

A new energy and emissions strategy

Looking beyond 2020, we have started to develop a new energy strategy. Its focus will be on emissions first, energy second. In other words, our goal will be to reduce CO2 emissions in a bid to tackle climate change. Our reasoning is simple. Global energy-related CO2 emissions continue to rise, year-on-year. And energy accounts for around two-thirds of man’s total CO2 emissions¹. From an energy perspective, this means replacing natural gas with renewable sources. Where possible we will continue to improve our energy efficiency, as the most sustainable form of energy is the one you don’t use.

In the future, this could mean looking at options such as geothermic energy sources, industrial heat pumps, producing steam from (waste) wood pallets, using hydrogen within our factories, or even using waste heat produced from neighbouring industrial plants.

Being good neighbours

At our Kruiningen plant, in summer 2018 we began supplying our neighbor, Wiskerke Onions, with waste heat from the frying process in our factory. Wiskerke are using this heat to dry their onions after harvesting in a newly built, highly sustainable storage facility. This works well, as their heat requirements are at their greatest at the moment when ours are at their lowest. 

This saves Wiskerke 500,000 m3 of natural gas, and reduces our total emissions by 875 MT of CO2 per year. This is the equivalent of the energy use of 300 Dutch households. 

Going forward, we aim to work with a number of external parties to translate our ideas into achievable targets and a workable plan.


 

 


Transporting our goods

We continued to work on ways to transport our products in the most sustainable manner possible, with the aim of lowering our CO2 emissions. Over the last two years, for example, and working closely with our logistics partner Visbeen, we reduced the number of kilometers traveled per tonne of product transported by nearly 6%.

In FY 2017, this meant that on average, per tonne of product, 459 road kilometers were travelled. In FY 2018, this dropped to 432 road kilometers, due to optimized routing and by using other transport methods, such as water and rail, which also generate lower CO2 emissions per MT.

Going forward, we will continue to look for ways to optimise loads across our international transportation network. In total, this has led to an avoidance of 6.5 million road kilometers annually versus our 2008 baseline, and a reduction in GHG emissions from transporting goods to our customers of 8.8%, or 6,033 MT of CO2 equivalent.

Waterways

We transport a significant percentage of our products by waterway. For example, we use short sea shipping (which is when our products are transported by sea close to a coast) for transport between the European continent and the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Norway and Sweden.

We also ship outbound deliveries by barge between Bergen op Zoom and Rotterdam in the Netherlands to the Republic of Ireland, while our dehydrated potato flakes are send by short sea shipping between the Netherlands and Portugal. In FY18, 87% of all containers intended for overseas destinations were transported by barge to Rotterdam. We are looking into possibilities to collaborate with other companies to further improve on sustainable shipping to further reduce CO2 emissions from transport.

To help support our focus on transporting by waterways, in 2017 we joined the BICEPS Network, a network of international shippers that work together to accelerate the transition in the global shipping sector towards more sustainability. The Network’s mission is to boost initiatives and create momentum for the implementation of sustainability solutions in the shipping sector by using the power of demand of shippers.

In total, the following percentage of finished goods are transported by waterways:

  • The United Kingdom: 99%
  • The Republic of Ireland: 100%
  • Norway: 100%
  • Sweden: 76%
  • Potato flakes to Portugal: 100%

Our goal remains to increase the distance covered by sea related to road, as this is generally more environmentally sound, and removes the noise pollution caused by truck haulage. We will look for any available opportunities to realise this.

Railways

Rail networks across Europe remain a vital transport method, and generate less CO2 per tonne of cargo transported when compared to road transport. We currently transport 80% of frozen products to Poland by rail, and use rail to deliver 100% of potato flakes to Spain and Italy. At the end of 2018 we began using Verona as a rail hub into Italy, which will enable us to access their rail infrastructure.

Helping customers

In our last report, we outlined how we are working closely with Visbeen, our delivery partner, to add customer value by transporting goods on both the inbound and outbound shipments.

Over the last two years we expanded this initiative, and now provide a similar service for a German food importer, the United Kingdom’s second-largest supermarket chain, and a foodservice group from the Netherlands. By transporting loads for different customers on outbound and inbound journeys, we increase transport efficiencies, deliver full loads across Europe, and cut our emissions and energy usage.

Next steps

Looking ahead, there are a number of initiatives we will take in the coming two years to make our transport of finished goods more sustainable. These include:

  • We are transforming two of the Longer Heavier Vehicles (LHV) that operate at our Oosterbierum plant to alternative fuels. One will run on liquefied natural gas (LNG), the other on biofuel created from used frying oil, currently used as biofuel by a local vendor. We aim to close loops in our own value chain.
  • We will create a new short sea shipping connection between Belgium and Spain, further reducing road transport
  • Over the course of 2019 and 2020, we will establish rail connections between Rotterdam and Spain and Germany, further cutting road kilometres.

 [1] https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

Outlook for 2019/2020

We have made solid progress over the past two years rolling out best practices, and optimising new technologies. Going forward, our aim is to:

  • Optimise the organisation of energy

    We want to better monitor and understand where we are losing energy within our processes. Introducing more automation of energy and waste (heat) monitoring will enable us to develop solutions faster and more accurately.

  • Optimise those projects currently running

    Our goal is to increase the waste heat recovery within our condensers. If we are able to reduce the temperature in the systems further, we will be able to capture more heat from them for reuse.

  • Develop our energy strategy 2020-2030
    Our focus will be on emissions first, energy second. In other words, we will look for ways to reduce CO2 emissions in a bid to tackle climate change. We will continue to work on developing this strategy, which should be ready by 2020 and for which SDG13 serves as a guide.

Key challenges

One of our key challenges is creating a culture where people feel engaged with our energy and emission reduction targets. To achieve this, we need to create greater involvement within the company, from top to bottom. We hope to achieve this in a number of ways:

  • By creating better education plans we aim to improve knowledge and awareness amongst our people. We will develop a process that will help our plants to become more involved, and run pilots to test our way of working to engage people at all levels of the company to contribute.

  • One of our challenges is to continue to find the most sustainable way of transporting our goods.  We want to continue to work with transporters to discover how we can make methods of transport even more sustainable. One way to do this is to collaborate with other companies, for example through the BICEPS Network, to push towards a more sustainable agenda.      

  • By changing the way we think and approach projects. In the past we searched for the easiest projects, with a short payback time, that were driven by energy efficiency. Going forward we will focus more on further reducing our CO2 emissions, and will incorporate this thinking into our investment strategy, as we are aware it has an impact on payback times.

  • In the Netherlands, by 2022 we need to switch to an alternative heat source from the Groningen gas currently used in our Oosterbierum plant. This is part of a 2017 national government decision to reduce the amount of natural gas used from this source to reduce the risk of local earthquakes. We will use this challenge to speed up our aim of being climate neutral at this facility.

  • In line with SDG13, we aim to become climate neutral towards 2050 and will investigate how and when we can get there. Currenty, the actual market prices for CO2 (European ETS) simply slow down the urgently needed reduction of greenhouse gases.