The figure shows how many tonnes of CO2 were emitted for every tonne of product Cosun produced in the years 2013-2017.
The CO2 emission was slightly higher in 2017 than in 2016. Contributory factors to the increase included the early start of the beet campaign, the replacement of cane sugar with beet sugar and the longer thick juice campaign at Suiker Unie. The composition and quality of the crops we process vary from year to year and very little influence can be brought to bear on their net impact on energy consumption. Yet energy accounts for a substantial proportion of our costs.
Cosun has set itself the goal of reducing its total energy consumption by at least 2% on average every year in the period 2010-2020. We have found, however, that every additional energy saving takes more effort and is less cost effective given the low energy prices in recent years. We are therefore slightly behind our target at present.
A project has been launched within Cosun to identify how the various Cosun business groups and locations can operate completely free of fossil CO2 emissions by around 2050.
All three of Suiker Unie’s sugar factories operate biomass digesters to turn organic waste flows from the production processes into biogas. Organic waste is converted into biogas if we cannot find a higher-value use for it, for instance as an ingredient in animal feed. If we have more organic waste than our digesters can handle on site, we prefer to sell it to an external biomass processor. In both cases, the biomass is not waste but an economic and sustainable application of residual matter.
Our biomass digesters ran at full capacity in 2017 and more biomass had to be processed by third parties. The higher production volume, particularly at Suiker Unie, meant more residual matter had to be sold to external processors. The figure shows how much organic matter has left our factories for external processors or composters over the years.
Suiker Unie makes green gas from vegetable residual matter such as sugar beet tops and tails, foliage and some of the pulp that remains when the beet are processed into sugar. We digest pulp only if we cannot sell it as animal feed. Digesting the pulp is then an alternative to drying it. Drying costs so much energy that it is better from an environmental point of view to turn the pulp into energy in the form of biogas.
Suiker Unie’s three biomass digesters produce more than 30 million m3 of green gas every year. Most of it is fed into the national gas transmission network. This is the most attractive option financially. To implement our green deal with the government, however, nearly a third of Suiker Unie’s truck fleet also drives on our own green gas.
For many years, other production units within Cosun have been operating methane reactors to extract biogas from process water. The Aviko facility in Steenderen supplies process water to a nearby treatment plant that extracts biogas and minerals (mainly struvite) from it. This also helps close the mineral cycles for plant fertilisers such as phosphate.
Cosun produces two kinds of waste: sorted waste and mixed waste. The sorted waste is disposed of separately. It consists of materials such as paper and board, wood, stones, plastics and chemicals. The remainder is mixed waste.
The quantity of waste per tonne of product was lower in 2017 than in 2016. In 2016, the demolition of the old washing house at the sugar factory in Dinteloord and building work in Vierverlaten had created more waste than usual. To put the amount into context, for every thousand kilos of end product that left our factories, we had to dispose of less than five kilos of waste. This is equal to just 0.1% of all the agricultural raw materials supplied to our factories! Cosun’s goal is to eliminate as much waste as possible and to recycle it wherever it can.
Cosun operates more than 30 production facilities in the Netherlands and abroad. Its large-scale industrial processes sometimes create a nuisance for local residents. If a factory is located close to a housing district, for example, it may be a source of odour or noise nuisance for local people. Trucks carrying raw materials and processing aids to our factories can also inconvenience people who live along the routes.
The number of complaints fell sharply from 168 in 2016 to 122 in 2017, chiefly as a result of the measures taken at the Aviko factory in Lomm. A new, higher chimney was taken into operation in September 2017 and complaints about odour nuisance have since fallen sharply. More than 70% of all our production facilities did not receive a single complaint in 2017. This means that the complaints are concentrated on a small number of facilities. The decline in their number indicates that local residents suffered less inconvenience. We will do all we can to continue this positive trend.