Danone to invest NZ$40m toward 100% carbon neutrality of Nutricia spray drying plant

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Danone’s Nutricia spray drying plant at Balclutha, in the Otago region of the South Island.
Danone’s Nutricia spray drying plant at Balclutha, in the Otago region of the South Island.

Related tags Danone New zealand biomass

Danone has announced a NZ$40 million ($26.5m) investment in its New Zealand Nutricia spray drying plant towards achieving carbon neutrality (zero net carbon dioxide emissions) by 2021.

This will be driven primarily by the installation of a NZ$30m ($19.9m) biomass boiler that will reduce the plant’s CO2 emissions by 20,000 tonnes per year.

‘Biomass’ or ‘bioenergy’ is energy from plants or plant by-products. When combusted, CO2 and other by-products of combustion are also released. However, Danone said, the CO2 released is largely offset by that which was absorbed in the original growth of the biomass, or which will be captured in the growth of new biomass to replace the biomass being used.

Danone’s Nutricia spray drying plant is located at Balclutha, in the Otago region of the South Island. The plant processes raw milk from 18 local farms into powder that is used as the base for production of leading infant milk formula (IMF) brands including Aptamil and Karicare.

Boilers play a central role in spray drying – the process of converting milk into a dry powder through the application of heat – with around 85% of the entire plant’s energy consumption coming from steam production. Unlike gas or the more common coal-powered boilers, Danone’s biomass boiler will be powered by sustainable wood fuels, which will be sourced locally, which Danone said will deliver a positive economic impact.

Cyril Marniquet, Danone’s New Zealand operations director, said, “This significant investment, in what we expect to be New Zealand’s first carbon neutral plant of its kind, underscores Danone’s global ‘One Planet. One Health’ vision and the belief that the health of people and planet are interconnected.

“We share the New Zealand Government’s ambitions in delivering a low-emissions, climate resilient future. At Danone, we’ve set ourselves an objective of becoming a carbon neutral company across our entire scope – from farm to family – by 2050. It is through key investments like this one that we take a step forward towards reaching this ambition.”

As part of its global journey towards carbon neutrality by 2050, Danone has also set intermediate targets – officially approved by the SBTi (Science-Based Targets initiative) – in line with the global measures necessary to meet the Paris Agreement objective of keeping global warming below 2°C. These targets include a 50% reduction in carbon emissions intensity across the company by 2030.

Biomass boiler

Veolia, a global resource management company, will be responsible for designing and managing the construction of the biomass boiler.

Alexandre Lagny, general manager New Zealand for Veolia, said the company was excited to deliver the project as part of its global strategic partnership with Danone.

“Veolia has supported Danone with the development of the biomass project, aligning available biomass resources with optimal conversion technologies, while leveraging the company’s operational expertise to achieve the best possible environmental footprint for the site,”​ Lagny said.

Danone’s investment in the plant also includes the installation of a new water treatment plant to more efficiently treat water waste, while ensuring compliance with Danone’s global clean water standards.

Nutricia production facilities in New Zealand

Danone acquired the Balclutha spray drying plant and its Airport Oaks (Auckland) blending, packing and canning facilities in 2014. Since then, the company has invested NZ$150m ($99m) to double production capacity of finished infant formula products in New Zealand.

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