Protection of resources

Our responsibility to the environment.

We use resources such as water and energy to best preserve them for future generations and to guarantee protection for the environment, people and animals. In doing so, we focus on the constant reduction of resources consumed.

Protection of resources

The food industry is an energy-intensive industry. As one of the leading companies in the meat industry, we are aware how important it is to protect natural resources and save energy. We thus focus on three areas of activity: saving energy, the most effective use of energy, and high efficiency through production of our own energy. We invest in modern technologies and regularly review our energy mix to improve even further.

We are aware that substantial resources are used before the carcass reaches us, particularly during the animal husbandry stages. We have developed a new feeding concept in collaboration with the North Rhine-Westphalia Chamber of Agriculture. The ‘Animal-optimised, Nitrate and Soya-reduced Feeding Concept’ (TONISO) significantly reduces the nitrogen secretions in manure. It reduces the nitrogen content by up to 30 per cent. We also aim to halve the soya share in feed, specifically for piglets and in pre-fattening feed. This preserves resources in animal husbandry and reduces the quantity of nitrogen and nitrates entering the groundwater via fertilisers.

Susanne Lewecke

Director of Environment and Energy Management

Important key figures

Our actions

Careful handling of energy is beneficial for everyone. For this reason, we use both energy from our own energy production as well as energy from the public energy grid. This combination benefits both us and the public energy grid. Our own energy is produced via combined heat and power units. The accrued heat is used for cooling via absorbers which absorb the heat to generate cold and feed it into the existing refrigeration circuit. At our site, we strive to generate ourselves 20 to 40 per cent of the energy we use.

All of our refrigeration and compressed air generation plants are connected to heat recovery systems. We can thus use the accrued heat to heat the process water and prepare a large part of this for cleaning the machines, production rooms and containers (E 2-crates, boxes etc.). This secondary use of the accrued heat means that no additional primary energy is required – in this way we can meet our requirement of careful use of natural resources.

Through the efficient use of freshwater, we have been able to significantly reduce consumption at all production stages in recent years.

The accrued wastewater is cleaned separately in special treatment stages until it is as clean as domestic wastewater. For a comparison, the chemical oxygen demand (COD) from domestic wastewater is, on average, 600 mg/l, while the COD from our pre-treatment is approx. 100 mg/l. This good biological quality means that the pre-filtered wastewater can be mixed with the communal wastewater. We clean the wastewater using chemical-physical flotation, a separation process in which substances are transported to the water surface using air bubbles. A further biological treatment takes place afterwards.

With the installation of other exhaust air cleaning systems, we ensure that no odours are released outside.

Our environmental protection expert Susanne Lewecke describes our actions with regard to resource consumption.

To ensure that we can use the necessary resources as effectively as possible, we use our findings from the certified environmental and energy management system as per ISO 14001 and ISO 50001. This enables us to implement a continuous improvement process. The specialist department communicates the results to the company management in the form of management reviews and defines alternative additional and new measures for saving resources. To be able to better analyse the consumption at the respective production sites, we have defined the balance limits.

Sustainability in accordance with worldwide standards

One hundred per cent of all German sites within the Tönnies Group are certified in accordance with the energy management system DIN EN ISO 50001, an international standard for systematic energy management. Furthermore, 85 per cent of the German sites within the Tönnies Group are certified in accordance with the environmental management system DIN EN ISO 14001, which defines requirements and standards for ecological assessments. Our goal is to have our other sites and plants certified in accordance with 14001 by 2020.

We created the first carbon footprint in 2009 for our largest plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück in collaboration with the Bremen Energy Institute. Since then we have created an annual carbon footprint for our plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück and now also for all other plants. For the carbon footprint for a single product, we have tracked the path of a schnitzel: from raw material preparation to the end consumer, our analysis shows that the slaughter and butchering only contributes to approx. 2 per cent of the total carbon footprint; finishing is approx. 10 per cent of the carbon footprint; and the manufacturer of the fattening feed is approx. 55 per cent.

What proportion of the carbon footprint for a schnitzel weighing 1 kg does each individual production step make up?

As a result of our continuous actions on resource and energy saving, we have managed to save 15,000 tonnes(t) of CO2 this year at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück plant. We can actively save CO2 in the field of heat recovery from the blast furnaces in pig abattoirs in particular, as well from all refrigeration and air compressors and through investment in optimum aggregates.

Our combined heat and power units: optimum resource management

We continuously invest in the modernisation and new construction of state-of-the-art plant technology to optimise our resource consumption. By constructing a total of five combined heat and power units (CHP) in Rheda-Wiedenbrück and in Sögel, we produce a large share of our energy ourselves for use in production and refrigeration. We are also saving resources – this protects the environment and our finances. Our CHP uses sophisticated technology that is based on innovative NH3 absorber technology and which has been specifically developed for Tönnies. The CHP enables the energy quantities from the energy provider and the self-generated energy quantity to be controlled easily and efficiently. We take a consistent energy quantity from our supplier and, in the event of peaks, can supplement this through our own energy generation.

Two CHPs in Sögel:

  • two combined heat and power units (two x 2 MW electric)
  • through the optimum use of the heat energy, saving of approx. 1700 t CO2
    With the combined heat and power stations we create a third of our energy ourselves here in Rheda-Wiedenbrück; at the plant in Sögel more than half of the energy is self-generated.

CHP Rheda-Wiedenbrück:

  • in 2017 we generated approx. 61 million kWh of power using the three combined heat and power units (three x 2.7 MW electric)
  • a saving of approx. 2800 t COdue to optimum use of heat energy

As an international industrial company, we are aware of our social responsibility to handle resources carefully. Our claim is the avoidance and reduction of environmental pollution. On the basis of our environmental and energy management system, we can guarantee responsible handling of resources.

Our next goals

Through the increased use of regenerative energies we are working towards a significant further reduction in the consumption of primary energy. We use, for example, geothermal energy, photovoltaics, heat pumps and solar panels.

It is important for us to generate even more of our own energy ourselves. Meaningful own energy production is only possible if all generated heat is used. For this reason, we strive to generate between 20 and 40 per cent of our energy ourselves.

With the use of absorber technology and optimisation of the temperature zones in the refrigerated warehouses, we are pursuing our goal of using refrigeration as effectively as possible and using resources in a conscious and regulated way.
With the use of robot technology and highly efficient water-saving jets during cleaning, we are reducing the use of fresh water and detergents.
With the new application technologies, we would like to better utilise the resulting sludge. The pre-drying and mono-incineration of sludge is particularly relevant in this regard as phosphates can be recovered from the ash.
We strive for the further use of oxidative processes for exhaust air cleaning. In doing so, we want to ensure that no odours are released outside.

What is the role of environmental protection at Tönnies?

We see environmental protection as a key factor in everyday operations at our company. To constantly optimise our processes, we record all environment-relevant usage and process data. We then evaluate this data as part of our environment and energy management system.

The expert

Questions on resource protection to Susanne Lewecke, Director of Environment and Energy Management at Tönnies

The media used are permanently recorded and compared to the production quantities. We analyse and correct deviations promptly and utilise as much waste as possible.

We test new environmental and energy technologies, e.g. in wastewater and sludge treatment, but also in exhaust air cleaning. In the field of water protection, our plants are secured so that no pollution of water or land occurs. We divide the water present on the sites into three areas: 1) waste water; 2) surface water: all surface water in the traffic areas is cleaned using a retention soil filter; and 3) roof drainage water.

To ensure maximum safety when storing hazardous substances, we use barrier systems. Tönnies input: how do these barrier systems work?

By using efficient aggregates in the field of refrigeration and compressed air generation, we achieve significant savings in energy. The intensive use of heat recovery systems offers great potential savings. Through our own energy generation and simultaneous utilisation of heat by absorbers, we can save a large part of our CO2 emissions.

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Susanne Lewecke

Director of Environment and Energy Management