This week is European Week for Waste Reduction which aims to raise awareness around sustainable resource consumption and responsible waste management. As a company targeting net zero waste, this topic is important to us. A key consideration in all our operations is to minimise our environmental impact by, in part, eliminating landfilled waste – we’re focused on beneficially using 100% of our waste by 2030.
We’re minimizing the environmental footprint of our operations and our value chain by also focusing on science-based greenhouse gas reductions, sustainable water use, and sustainable agriculture.
Manufacturing in most sectors typically generates by-products often considered waste, but we understand that materials we can no longer use can still be beneficial. Most of our waste is organic matter that comes from processing our plant-based raw materials. It can usually be used by others, particularly as nutrients for animals and farmland local to our operations.
Using every bit of the corn kernel
Nothing is wasted in our corn wet milling process. Brad Morrison, Director, Global Raw Materials Procurement explains how each part of the kernel is used. “After steeping in water, the softened kernels go through various milling processes to separate out the starch, fibre, gluten and oil. Starch is the largest component and we extract it from the endosperm to use in our food and industrial ingredients. Protein-rich gluten, also from the endosperm, goes into corn gluten meal, used in aquaculture feed and pet food. Fibre from the hull is used in corn gluten feed for livestock, and we sell oil from the germ to the food industry. We even use the steep-water – it contains nutrients used in animal feed and fermentation. In these resource constrained times, it’s good to know we’re being efficient and sustainable.”
100% of our waste beneficially used
Two of our manufacturing sites in Europe are beneficially using 100% of its waste: Ossona, Italy and Mold, UK.* Our three other European manufacturing sites are continuing to work towards 100% with Koog, The Netherlands at 97%, Boleraz, Slovakia at 96% and Noto, Italy at 89%.*
In addition to this, we are currently collaborating with Bangor University, Wales, UK, on a project to make practical use of leftover food waste. In 2018 we joined the Pro-Enrich project, a European collaboration between 13 companies and three research organisations, aiming to develop an efficient, cost-effective way of processing agricultural residues into alternative proteins and other ingredients.
Earlier this year, we also announced that we had exceeded our 2020 environmental targets. Waste to landfill was reduced by 37% (target of 30%) – the environmental benefits of this are equivalent of 1,700 fewer garbage trucks taken to landfill. Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, generated by on-site energy use, were reduced by 25% (target of 19%), equivalent to the carbon captured by nearly 1 million acres of US forestry.
Our teams around the globe have been working hard to eliminate waste from our operations while also seeking means to sustainably and beneficially use materials that no longer have value to us, but can add value for our wider community. Our 100% beneficial use target forms part of our ambitious environmental targets for 2030 for GHG emissions, waste, water and sustainable agriculture. However, the journey doesn’t end there. Reducing the amount of waste or, ensuring that all waste we produce is used in a beneficial way, is an ongoing commitment; one that we are dedicated to reviewing and adapting to regularly.
* AECOM verified eco performance for CY2020 (% beneficial use)
You may also be interested in:
European Week for Waste Reduction
Caring for our planet
How our plant in Mold became 'zero-landfill'
How we’re approaching Zero Waste
How we’re upcycling food waste into new proteins and ingredients
Our Santa Rosa facility beneficially uses 99.9% of its waste