Bühler raises its sustainability targets at networking event

Bühler raises its sustainability targets at networking event

More than 800 decision-makers and partners from across the food sector came together for Bühler’s Networking Days in Uzwil, Switzerland.

The focus of the two-day event is on the question of how it will be possible in 2050 to feed a global population of almost ten billion people sustainably and healthily.

“Climate change and the demands of our growing population are huge challenges. At the same time, we live in the best world in history. And never have we had such powerful technologies at our disposal,” said Stefan Scheiber, CEO of Bühler Group.

He added that the crucial point is that industry, research, and politics must use these new and sustainable technologies to cope with these challenges and that these various players must work together toward this goal. “Our aim is to reduce energy requirements, water consumption, and waste by 50% in our customers’ value chains,” said Scheiber, “and industry must become part of the solution.”

The companies represented at the event nourish around four billion people every day. “The fact that so many manufacturers, scientists, industry partners, and start-ups are coming together here today shows that the industrial community is prepared to bear its responsibility and to become part of the solution,” said Scheiber.

Speakers at the event included Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Norwegian prime minister and a decades-long important voice on climate change; Stefan Palzer, chief technology officer of Nestlé; Patrick Dupin, CEO of Saint Gobain Northern Europe, Francois Pienaar, who led South Africa to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup; Sunny Verghese, co-founder and CEO of Olam International and chair of the World Business Council For Sustainable Development, and John Harthorne, the founder of the start-up accelerator MassChallenge.

Dramatically deteriorated situation

As the world’s population is predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050, and chances of limiting global temperatures rises by less than 1.5 degrees centigrade are dwindling, there is an enormous need for action to build sustainable value chains in food and feed production.

Ian Roberts, chief technology officer of Bühler said: “The coming ten years will decide what heritage we will pass on to the future generations. We must act now. We must collaborate within our entire ecosystem. And we must radically change our behavior as industries, as companies, and as individuals.”

Bühler has therefore decided to increase its sustainability goals and to add water as a new aspect. Bühler’s next-generation process solutions are to become 50% more efficient, using less energy and water, and producing less waste.

“We have not changed our targets because we have achieved our original goal of 30%, but because we have concluded that they are simply not high enough,” said Roberts. In order to achieve these goals, Bühler is exploiting the possibilities of digitalisation and partnering with customers, suppliers, and start-ups – to develop solutions meeting or even exceeding these goals. “We are focusing our research and development spending and our partnerships on these new 50-percent targets. And we are convinced that this will produce good business models,” said Roberts.

Sustainable solutions already today

At the Networking Days, Bühler is presenting solutions that contribute to its sustainability targets:

  • Mill E3 and digital Yield Management System: With a completely new mill design, new technologies, and systematic digitalisation, Mill E3 uses 30% less space, use 10% less energy, and boosts yields.
  • Energy-efficient wafer baking oven SWAKT-ECO uses a novel heating concept to slash gas consumption by as much as 25% and emissions by up to 90%.
  • Laatu is a new technology for microbial reduction. Safe low-energy electrons destroy 99.99% of all salmonellae in dry products such as spices. In comparison to steam treatment, Laatu cuts energy usage by as much as 80%, while water and chemical use is reduced to zero.
  • Industrial-scale insect processing: In June 2019, Bühler and the Dutch producer Protix opened the world’s first and at the same time largest insect protein plant. The larvae of the black soldier fly transform low-grade food residues quickly and sustainably into body mass, thereby returning the waste to the food cycle. They need only very little space for growth, which gives them a very much smaller carbon footprint than other sources of protein. The protein of the larvae is processed into sustainable feeds, reducing the pressure on other feed sources such as soya or fishmeal.
  • Meat alternatives: Bühler has developed an extrusion technology allowing meat food substitutes to be produced.

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