Material efficiency and waste

Efficient use of materials have a beneficial effect on the environment. They help to mitigate climate change, reduce energy and water consumption, and maintain biodiversity. Material efficiency at HKScan means, amongst other things, making use of animal raw materials and all parts of the carcasses, and developing packaging by taking into account eco-efficiency of the materials used and the minimisation of food waste. Other examples of material-efficient practices are minimising waste in production and food waste, and waste recovery.

Biotech

HKScan’s Biotech business line is responsible for the Group-wide development of business operations related to side streams of products of animal origin. These operations are separate from the food production operations. The goal is to create circular economic business and to direct the side streams as efficiently as possible to other industries, such as leather, animal feed or pet foods. The remaining animal-based matter is used to produce biogas. About 40–50 per cent of the live cattle weight is used directly as food, and as much as 50 per cent of the rest can be used in other ways. The corresponding salvageable amounts for pigs, broilers and lambs are about 40 per cent. Consequently, the environmental impact related to farm animals can be divided into the groups of products produced from by-products as well.

In the value pyramid of the Biotech business operations, the pharmaceutical industry is a good example of an area where high-value-added applications have been developed. For example, gallstones from cattle contain compounds that are used in various medicines for their inflammatory properties. Heparin isolated from the mucous membranes of pig intestines is used in the manufacture of anti-clotting medicines.

EXAMPLES

1. We increased the value added of animal bones by directing larger quantities for use in broths.

2. Due to changes in legislation in Sweden, we made more effective use of category 1 (Animal by-products regulation EU N:O 1069/2009) raw materials in value added use.

Packaging materials

In 2017, HKScan continued its long-term sustainable development work to develop more eco-friendly packaging and to improve material efficiency. Although packaging materials for meat and meat products and ready-to-eat foods are only a small part of a product’s overall carbon footprint, packaging solutions can also have effects in other ways, e.g. on biowaste generated by consumption. Among the areas for development work in this area are new packaging and packaging line investments in Estonia.

For the first time, HKScan reported the amounts of packaging materials used, and their sources. The amount of virgin material from non-renewable sources used in 2017 was 57 per cent. This covers the use of plastic, aluminium and steel in packages. From renewable sources (cardboard, paper) came 38 per cent of materials. Of these, 16 per cent were of virgin origin and 22 per cent were of recycled origin.

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Examples

1. At the Tabasalu production plant in Estonia, over EUR 500 000 will be invested in the new environmentally friendly packaging line for the Tallegg® branded products. A total of ten Tallegg® products will be packed on the new line. The new packaging has resulted in a reduction of 71 per cent in the amount of material used for the packaging. The packaging also contributes to a reduction in CO2 emissions from transport, as packages storage space needed is 96 per cent less than with the previous packaging materials. The new packaging technology has also significantly extended the shelf life of products, which also helps to minimise food wastage. Smaller packaging also reduces the amount of household waste. In addition to reducing the environmental burden, the new packaging line is also 50 per cent more efficient.

2. The Scan® branded Gårdfärs minced meat brand was launched in Sweden in a new chub package. Due to the new overall process, the shelf life of the product has been extended from nine days to 16 days. In addition, the environmental impact of the chub package is 39 per cent lower than with standard packaging.

3. In Finland, new packaging was introduced for products sold under the HK® brand. The packaging uses a combination of cardboard and plastic. 

Food wastage

Reducing food wastage in the production process is important both for preventing the loss of value caused by waste, and from the point of view of the environment and responsible production.

Examples

1. In Finland HKScan was part of the Ham Trick campaign, the aim of which was to recycle the dripping from 100 000 Christmas hams for refining into renewable diesel. Over 145 000 households participated, way above the target. The amount of ham fat collected, around 44 000 kg, was almost four times the amount collected in 2016. The amount of diesel produced as a result of the 2017 campaign would fuel 14 car trips around the globe. Renewable diesel reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions during the fuel life cycle by as much as 90 per cent compared to conventional, fossil diesel. The revenue from the Ham Trick campaign, EUR 25 000, was donated to support low-income families. The joint project was created on the initiative of the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland in 2016.

2. In Finland HKScan participated in the Consumers’ Union of Finland’s annual Hävikkiviikko (“Wastage Week”) campaign against food waste by giving consumers tips to reduce food waste. The goal of the Hävikkiviikko campaign, held every autumn, is to promote greater efficiency in all parts of the food production chain, and to increase people’s appreciation of food.

3. The efficiency of the new poultry slaughter line in the Rauma plant enables the bird carcasses to be used efficiently, thereby reducing the number of side streams that are generated.

4. At the production facility in Poland, production losses have been reduced, and the amount of food wastage has been reduced with new packaging solutions.

Waste

HKScan’s measures to reduce waste volumes in production facilities are based on a waste hierarchy. In practice, this means preventing the generation of waste, reusing and recycling materials, the use of waste for energy, and landfill placement as the final option.

Around 80 per cent of the waste material produced by HKScan is of animal origin, and is directed to biogas or diesel production. Energy is recovered from the fractions that cannot be recycled or directed to the production of biogas or diesel. Such fractions include those parts of the carcass that are covered by Category 1 of EU regulation 1069/2009. The remaining solid matter is directed to fertiliser use. About 2 per cent of the waste produced by operations is recyclable waste, such as plastics, metals, cardboard or paper. Landfill waste accounts for 0.1 per cent of the material reported. The amount of landfill waste decreased by 98 per cent from 2012 to 2017.

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Example

At the Linköping production plant in Sweden, a project called “sausage hunt” was launched, with the aim of reducing the amount of raw material and products generated on the floor. Projects aimed at reducing the amount of product waste are also underway.

CHEMICALS

HKScan has a system in place for monitoring the amounts of chemicals used, and their environmental and health impacts. Reducing the amount of chemicals that are used and replacing them with more environmentally friendly options is an ongoing effort. More chemicals are used in cleaning than for any other purpose.

Examples

1. At the new Rauma plant in Finland, the acidification of feed material was discontinued. This meant that formic acid and potassium sorbate are no longer used. The combined amount of these used at the Eura production plant, which is in the process of being closed, is about 64 tonnes per month.

2. At the Skara production plant in Sweden, the amount of chemicals used was reduced. This was done using PRIO, a web-based tool developed by the Swedish Chemicals Agency to help in preventively reducing health and environmental risks from chemical substances. Investments in chemical storage facilities were also made at Skara.

3. In Latvia, the use of chemicals has been reduced to 7 per cent of the earlier total volume.

4. All the chemicals used in the Linköping production facility are risk-rated, and the number of different chemicals used has been reduced. In addition, the staff who are responsible for hygiene were trained in chemicals and their use.

environmental deviations

In August 2017, a diesel fuel leak occurred at the Halmstad production plant in Sweden. The leak was caused by a vehicle. Fuel spilled into a nearby ditch. The rescue service removed the diesel fuel from the ditch and cleaned the soil. The event was reported to the local authority.

At the Kristianstad production plant in Sweden in December 2017, a leak of ammonia occurred, due to a malfunctioning heat pump control device. The malfunction resulted in the ammonia gas pressure rising so high that the safety device was activated, discharging the overpressure into the open air. This discharge set off a gas leak alarm. The equipment was shut down immediately. The fault was investigated, and after the necessary precautions had been taken, the equipment was restarted.