German dairy processing giant Deutsches Milchkontor (DMK) has published its first sustainability report and says it aims to express sustainability ‘more as a part of our corporate culture’.
The country’s largest dairy company, the €4bn turnover firm was (formed following a merger between Nordmilch and Humana in May) outlined a raft of measures it is pursuing to support sustainable production.
CEO Dr Josef Scwaiger said: “It is our stated goal to harmonise DMK’s long-term economic success with social expectations and developments.”
Goals unveiled in the report include reducing energy consumption by 10 per cent "in the medium term", reducing non-recyclable waste to 5 per cent and having an ‘ecological balance sheet’ certified in line with DIN ISO 16001 (a German standard assessing energy management) by the end of 2012.
DMK reported that its overall electricity usage fell to 339,914,474 kilowatt hour (kWh) in 2010 from 379,363,328 kWh in 2009.
But gas usage increased 1 per cent, from 1,164,612,341 kWh to 1,180,412,135 year-on-year.
Water usage ratios
And despite the lack of comparative statistics to benchmark its own water usage performance against the previous year, DMK said its ratios of fresh/waste water (measured against milk production volumes) in 2010 were below the German industry average.
For instance, the co-operative used 7,061,435m3 of fresh water at a ratio of 1.14:1 in terms of milk volumes, against a German national average within the dairy sector of 2.14:1.
Sustainability measures already undertaken before DMK's creation include two wood-chip plants commissioned at factories in Bad Bibra (December 2006) and Warren (February 2011) to produce process steam, which DMK said it was using as an alternative to fossil fuels to drive production processes.
Biogas from whey permeate
At the Waren site, DMK said that 90 per cent of energy came from biomass from the region, which saved on natural gas use and prevented emissions of 3,450 tonnes per annum.
“Constant use of these systems contributes financially and environmentally to sustainable corporate development. Wood is not only a cost-saving energy source, but a renewable raw material,” said DMK.
“It is also carbon neutral, because the material used is drawn from the local region, with no long transport routes.”
Looking forward, the company said: “DMK is vigorously pushing forward pilot projects such as the use of whey permeate to produce biogas.”
And with cooling technologies central to milk processing – but amongst its most energy-intensive areas – DMK said it had invested money into a new ice water system at its Rimbeck factory, to provide more energy-efficient cooling and 20 per cent energy savings.
DMK also highlighted the need, “particularly against the background of the recent food crisis in Germany, to justify and strengthen consumers’ confidence in our products”, via cooperation with scientific bodies such as the Max-Rubner-Institut.