olam food ingredients uses cocoa shells to cut carbon emissions
Two circular biomass boilers have entered operation at olam food ingredients’ cocoa processing factories in the Netherlands and Germany, as the ingredients company seeks to cut CO2 emissions by 23% and achieve sustainability goals.
The boilers use cocoa shells, a by-product of the production process, as fuel to generate steam, which in turn powers the crafting of cocoa ingredients from olam food ingredients’ ofi’s premium brand, deZaan, at its factories in Koog aan de Zaan, Netherlands, and in Mannheim, Germany.
ofi believes this will be the first cocoa shell boiler of its kind in the country.
The boiler at Koog aan de Zaan was partly funded by a subsidy from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and took over four years from concept to completion. It will reduce natural gas usage and CO2 emissions at the facility by 50%. In 2022 alone, ofi used 8,000 tons of residual cocoa shells to generate green energy equivalent to using 3.4 million cubic meters of natural gas, helping cut absolute CO2 emissions at the facility by 23%.
The second boiler at ofi’s factory in Mannheim has been developed through a joint venture with energy company MVV. It has the potential to provide up to 90% of the steam needed to power the facility, saving approximately 8,000 tons of CO2 annually. The new roll-out adds to the circular biomass shell boilers used in ofi cocoa factories in Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, and Singapore.
This latest move forms part of ofi’s ambition for sustainable cocoa, Cocoa Compass, which sets ambitious goals – including a 30% reduction in natural capital costs by 2030. In 2021, ofi reduced these costs in its global cocoa processing operations by 11% per metric ton of product output from processing, partly thanks to its network of biomass shell boilers and other initiatives such as green electricity and solar panels.
Susanne Folkerts, global operations head of sustainability & environment, ofi, noted that the boilers are key in reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions and making the Cocoa Compass ambition real.
“We’re thrilled to have been recognised by the Dutch government as a sustainability innovation leader and hope that other manufacturing businesses are inspired to invest in circular biomass as part of their decarbonisation journeys,” Folkerts said.
David van Baarle, industrial sustainability specialist, The Netherlands Enterprise Agency, (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, RVO) said: “ofi has demonstrated how making the most of byproducts can lead to significant CO2 savings. By developing a biomass boiler that uses its own cocoa shells to power the production of its deZaan cocoa ingredients, it is setting an inspiring example for other industrial companies. We are therefore grateful that ofi is giving its industry peers the opportunity to follow its example.”
Ralf Klöpfer, sales director at MVV Energie said implementing this “feat of engineering” with ofi was not without its challenges; however, it has been worthwhile to support a vision for a climate-neutral future by 2040 and break new ground in the process.
“MVV is committed to becoming one of the first energy companies in Germany to be #climatepositive. With our Mannheim model, we can support our customers in realising their sustainability goals, which is why we are particularly pleased to have been able to partner with ofi on this circular biomass initiative,” Klöpfer added.