The Netherlands: Ofi moves to reduce emissions with eco-friendly biomass boilers

Olam food Ingredients (ofi) has moved to improve its environmental performance through installing two new circular biomass boilers at its core plant targeting reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, writes Neill Barston. As the company explained, the newly-installed systems at its core Koog aan de Zaan site use cocoa shells, a by-product of the production process, as fuel to generate steam.

This in turn powers the crafting of cocoa ingredients from the company’s premium brand, deZaan, at its factories in the, Netherlands, and in Mannheim, Germany – where it is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Confectionery Production has previously had the chance to experience its core Dutch site, which has seen significant development within recent years.

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%. This is the equivalent of warming over 3,000 Dutch houses per year.

Furthermore, as the company explained, 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 costs2 by 2030. In 2021, ofi reduced these costs in its global cocoa processing operations by 11% per metric ton of product output, 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 said:”We’re taking action to protect the planet and unlock value for our customers so that they can offer their consumers more sustainable choices. From the support we give to farmers worldwide to how we turn their cocoa into high-quality ingredients in our processing factories. These innovative boilers are key in reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions3 and making our Cocoa Compass ambition real.

“We’re also playing our part to accelerate the climate agenda of the EU Green Deal, in which moving to a more circular economy is fundamental. 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.”