CO2-emissions in milk processing
There’s a lot of energy in our products – quite literally, since a great deal of it is required for heating, refrigeration, pumping and homogenisation during the production process. Added to this are transportation to, and storage in, our suppliers’ stores, our own, and our customers’. A significant proportion of this energy is derived from fossil fuels. In 2016, the energy source consumed by Emmi generated 114,486 tonnes of CO2.
When we talk about our CO2 emissions, we want to do so in a way that is transparent, understandable and meaningful. To this end, we are guided by current “carbon accounting” practices. Where a company’s CO2 emissions are concerned, experts differentiate between three different segments or “scopes”. This is designed to facilitate the systematic recording of greenhouse gas emissions.
Scope 1 comprises a company’s direct emissions. At Emmi, these are traditionally CO2 emissions generated from the consumption of fossil fuels:
- Natural gas and crude oil for the process heat we need
- Diesel consumed by our lorries
- Greenhouse effective cooling agents
Scope 2 covers the emissions produced by a company indirectly.
- Emissions generated from the production of electricity, district heating and steam, which we purchase for our sites. For example, electricity produced from coal. From an environmental perspective, not all electricity is the same and it is only as clean as the energy source from which it is produced.
Scope 3 is the broadest, encompassing all upstream and downstream emissions. For food companies, these are primarily made up of emissions linked to raw materials, machines and so on.
- Greenhouse gases emitted from the cultivation and production of agricultural raw materials (milk, sugar, fruit, coffee, cocoa).
- Greenhouse gases associated with the manufacturing and disposal of packaging for our products.
- Emissions from the manufacturing of production equipment, lorries and so on.
- Emissions from transportation not performed by Emmi itself. This includes all material transportation costs as well as business trips by plane and our employees’ commutes.
Our carbon footprint
In 2018, the energy sources consumed directly and indirectly by Emmi generated 114,486 tonnes of CO2.
Of this amount, 60 % stems from fuels that we use at our production facilities (predominantly natural gas and crude oil), 25 % is attributable to the electricity we consume, 10 % is from transportation and and with 5 % also the cooling agents used for the cooling of storage rooms (e.g. Freon) are a relevant source of CO2 emissions.
Reducing our energy consumption is the top priority
Over the past two decades, we at Emmi have made a considerable effort to reduce the energy consumption of our production facilities. We have made the most progress to date in our home market of Switzerland, which is mainly linked to the country’s relatively strict environmental policy and in particular the incentive fee levied on fossil fuels since 2008. This provides companies with a financial incentive to invest in climate protection.
In the coming years, we want to transfer the experience we have gained in Switzerland to our production sites abroad, taking the approach of first reducing energy consumption and then testing the use of alternative energy sources. Systematic energy analysis saves not only energy but also money.
With this in mind, we aim to considerably reduce our Scope 1 CO2 emissions in the medium term.
Once a site’s energy consumption has been optimised following a careful analysis of input and output and the implementation of appropriate measures, attention is turned to replacing the remaining fossil fuels. Since major structural measures are often involved at this stage, time and money requirements are very high. In addition, the use of alternative energy sources (solar installations, biomass, geothermy, etc.) must be adapted to the respective conditions, including geography, climate and policies. By 2050 at the latest, we aim to supply all production facilities exclusively with renewable energy.
While the reduction of CO2 emissions from electricity purchased in Switzerland and many European countries is principally a financial issue, the electricity markets in other areas of the world are often less progressive, focusing instead on reliable and sufficient electricity supply in the short term. Nevertheless, in countries where sustainability is “only” a question of money, there are also boundaries. A company’s central responsibility – operational sustainability, i.e. its long-term existence – can’t be ignored.
For that reason, we regard a reduction in our Scope 1 and Scope 2 CO2 emissions of 25 % by 2020 as a sensible objective, being ambitious yet also realistic.
And what about Scope 3?
Factoring in Scope 3 CO2 emissions at a food company is entirely justified, and so it is at Emmi. In our initial, very rough estimates, we currently assume that our Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions amount to around 2,400,000 tonnes, which is 17 times the amount of our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
Most of these emissions (approximately 90 %) are generated in milk production. Based on our understanding, the root cause is an inherently natural carbon cycle: when grass grows, it absorbs the carbon (C) from the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air. Cows eating the grass emit methane (CH4). The crux of the problem is that methane has a much greater impact on the environment than CO2. Conversely, it must be kept in mind that dairy farming allows us to create a nutrient-rich food from a resource that is inedible for humans, grass. For this reason, we see extensive, roughage-based milk production as making fundamental sense. As a milk-processing company, we aim to support this industry.