Circular economy keeps resources in use
Overcrowding, population growth and climate change are all directly or indirectly affected by what is happening in our society. As these issues are great, they can be difficult to grasp. In fact, a heated debate is even taking place on whether climate change exists. Fortunately, at the same time, an active search for solutions is on.
But what can we do to stop global warming and overconsumption of natural resources? The biggest problem is that we are not able to utilise materials efficiently enough, and we too much non-renewable sources to create new stuff. Instead of producing new materials, we should obtain models of circular economy and consume by recycling. We need to maximize the value of materials and keep resources in use for as long as possible. In addition, we must ensure that our activities do not result in waste and trash, and if they do, they will be reused.
The introduction of more sustainable operating models requires quick actions. Not only do we have to work hard to develop our own operating models, we also have to show a strong example for developing countries, where population growth is booming. For meat industry, the growing population means increasing demand, which also means an increasing number of animal by-products in the same proportion. However, there is already a responsible way to handle all these raw materials – Honkajoki® concept.
Honkajoki® concept creates growth and wealth by recycling
During our 50-year history, we have developed a circular economy concept that is one of the most efficient, responsible and resource-wise animal by-product processing models today. With the concept, we are able to
- reuse the valuable nutrients of animal by-products
- prevent animal epidemics and pathogens from spreading
- advance the sustainable use of nature’s resources
- minimize the environmental load of production.
Our goal is to maximize the utilisation of raw materials with minimal waste and emissions, and we are committed to developing our products as well as the ways in which they are produced. Thanks to technical innovations, we can use all our organic waste 100% either in the Group’s own products or in energy production. By automating our operations, we streamline our internal processes, accelerate the processing time of materials, and reduce energy consumption. Intelligent technology helps us to collect production data, which helps us optimize our production and costs.
The concept enables achieving energy self-sufficiency, which is especially important in areas where infrastructure is inadequate and energy supply uncertain. Different types of environmentally friendly energy solutions, such as windmills, biogas, or animal fat, can be used to produce an energy equivalent to a unit. Condensed production heat can be sold forward, and wastewater can be treated in a unit’s own wastewater treatment plant.
The Honkajoki® concept offers a scalable and energy-efficient solution for manufacturing companies in developing countries where animal by-products are not yet being utilised optimally. The concept also provides a way to prevent animal epidemics that are a serious risk to the economy and the environment. In China, for example, African swine fever has led to a situation where up to half of the country’s pig population must be culled. If the diseased animals are not treated properly, it is difficult to destroy the virus.
Promoting renewable energy production
In Finland, for example, fossil fuels accounted for about 36% of energy production in 2017. The share of renewable fuels has increased all the time, but if climate change is to be stopped, fossil fuels should be completely replaced.
One of the most important goals of our emissions policy is to find applications for our products that promote the use of low-emission, green energy. One of these applications is renewable biodiesel with up to 90% less carbon footprint than fossil diesel. At present, a large part of the fat products we produce goes to biodiesel production. The use of renewable diesel, which is made entirely of renewable raw materials, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 50-90% compared to fossil diesel.
We utilise animal by-products also in our energy production. Surplus energy and condensate heat are sold to other companies in the Honkajoki Kirkkokallio area, such as greenhouses. In addition, our goal is to switch from diesel-powered transportation equipment to renewable fuels, and we are currently studying the possibility of moving to biodiesel trucks.
Reducing environmental load
We have set objectives for our activities to reduce the environmental impact, and we follow the achievement of these objectives through various environmental management tools. This year, we will also start using an application for the carbon footprint and lifecycle calculation of our end products. The software enables us to analyse the effects of the emissions from our operations more comprehensively as well as to optimise our objectives to reduce them.
All the organic waste is utilised efficiently in our own production or in the processes of other operators in the Kirkkokallio area. Typical production waste, such as metal and wood waste, is recycled in accordance with environmental standards. We also strive to continually improve the recycling of waste in our production, so that as little as possible of it would end up in landfills.
Water is a critical component in our production. All water used in our processes is groundwater, which is possible thanks to Finland’s abundant groundwater resources. We are constantly working to improve our water consumption to ensure the sustainable use of water resources.
Over the years, we have also invested heavily in our wastewater treatment plant, and all the concentrations have been reduced to a minimum. Honkajoki Ltd’s wastewater treatment plant treats the company’s own process and condensate waters as well as the wastewater of Lihajaloste Korpela Oy. In 2018, wastewater monitoring showed that the results of organic matter and nitrogen extraction achieved at the treatment plant are nationally at an excellent level.
We optimize kilometers
There are tens of thousands of farms and slaughterhouses in our business area where we get our raw material. In 2018, more than 3,000,000 kilometers were driven. The most important ways of optimizing mileage and thus reducing the environmental impact of driving are, first and foremost, careful planning and monitoring of logistics, cooperation with local transport companies, high container filling rate and right equipment.
The Group’s logistics department plans the transportation of raw materials through the HELOS logistics system, developed for our needs. The system receives transport orders and optimises transport routes, so that the collection containers can be as full as possible at the lowest possible mileage. The system allows us not only to optimise the mileage, but also to improve the transparency and performance of the Group’s logistics costs.
We actively follow various indicators related to emissions and the cost efficiency of rounds, such as driving speed, consumption, and the development of loading and unloading times. We fill the containers as full as is possible for the good quality of the raw materials. At present, the filling rate of containers is about 80%, and we are constantly looking for new technological and logistical solutions to raise it.
Work for more sustainable world continues
We have gotten far, but our work on energy-efficient circular economy solutions continues intensively, for example, by promoting circular economy and agroecology models in cooperation with research institutes. We want to be pioneers in our industry, which means we have to keep going and continuously search for new, innovative solutions.
We want to achieve energy efficiency that leaves no waste at all, and we want to develop production processes that are as emission-free as possible. We also want to build more sustainable consumption by keeping the valuable nutrients from animal by-products in the natural cycle as long as possible.