Management Approach: Environment
Climate change is currently one of the greatest global challenges. A large proportion of global CO2 emissions are generated in the manufacture and consumption of products and the provision of services. The conservation of natural resources is also becoming increasingly urgent. Hochland is aware of its responsibility for the environment and climate and considers the effects of its own actions at its locations and along the entire value chain.
The outstanding importance of environmental and climate protection was also confirmed by stakeholders in the materiality analysis updated in 2019: a climate-neutral product portfolio, resource conservation and closed cycles as well as recyclable packaging – that’s what the expectations are at Hochland.
Topics and Challenges
For the environment sector, Hochland has prioritised the topic of climate protection and CO2. In particular this includes the reduction of energy consumption and CO2 emissions in production and logistics as well as environmental and climate protection in connection with packaging.
For reasons of transparency, Hochland also reports on the subject of resource protection and in particular on the reduction of resource consumption in the manufacture of cheese products.
Hochland sees its future economic success as directly dependent on the socially and ecologically responsible use of resources. For the company, the emphasis is on the word use as opposed to consumption. For this reason, Hochland draws on the principle of recycling management for the necessary decision-making aids.
Environmental protection and energy management are central aspects of the A.U.G.En management handbook. In these guidelines Hochland has summarised binding procedural and work instructions for employees and external partners. The abbreviation stands for occupational safety, environmental, health and energy management. The company takes the above-mentioned aspects into account even during the development phase of new products and when making investment decisions for new processes. For example, Hochland uses engines with the highest possible energy efficiency class in production plants. The requirements of the current energy saving regulations are taken into account during construction measures. Hochland's building cooling system which uses spring water, external shading and heating with production waste heat also contribute to energy savings. When procuring new equipment, the company checks whether it is recyclable, as far as this is possible according to the current state of technology.
In an annual assessment, Hochland documents all environmentally relevant key figures, such as consumption volumes of energy, water and raw materials as well as emissions and waste. This evaluation serves as a basis for all decisions within the framework of A.U.G.En management.
Together with teams of auditors, the environmental managers at each site ensure that specifications are adhered to and that the necessary measures are implemented. Guidelines are defined by the company management, the plant management and the specialist departments. Thanks to flexible systems, Hochland can adjust or extend targets that have been achieved ahead of schedule. Delays are analysed in order to take effective countermeasures if necessary.
Soon it will be taken for granted that companies produce climate-neutrally.
Josef Stitzl, Managing Director
The heads of Environmental Management, Quality Management and Sustainability and Central Development (Products and Packaging) report directly to management. Group-wide topics are coordinated with the Board of Hochland SE as required.
All management systems that ensure continuous improvement are established as certified standards – according to IFS, DIN EN ISO 45001, environmental audit according to DIN EN ISO 14001:2015, energy management system according to DIN EN ISO 50001:2011.
Hochland evaluates all objectives and measures at least once a year by means of a comprehensive written management review. The steps taken in the context of New Performance Management are evaluated three times a year in terms of their effectiveness.
Hochland’s Ambitions for the Environment
We aim to offer products that inspire our customers while leaving the smallest possible
ecological footprint. Our goal is to reduce the emissions resulting from all business activities by at least
31 % by 2030 (base year 2015).
CONCRETE TARGETS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AREA
|Hochland reduces packaging material losses along the value chain to a maximum of 1 % (medium-term target 0.5 %).1|
|Together with its milk suppliers, Hochland is planning a more sustainable orientation of these farms – to this end, Hochland is deriving measures from a survey of all farmers in Schongau.|
|Hochland is continuously increasing the share of renewable energies by generating its own electricity and optimising energy procurement.|
|Hochland has reduced its energy consumption per ton of finished goods at the Heimenkirch plant by 20 % (base year 2012).|
|Hochland has reduced its energy consumption per ton of finished goods at the Schongau plant by 20 % (base year 2012).|
|Hochland has reduced its fresh water consumption and waste water volume by 1 % per year.2,3|
|Hochland has reduced the amount of its disposal waste at the Heimenkirch site by 2 % per year.4|
|At the Heimenkirch and Schongau sites, Hochland will increase the share of recycled paper in total secondary packaging to 90 % by 2018.1|
|Hochland initiates an international project to reduce cup weight (Almette brand, international).|
|Hochland determines the CO2 balance based on an employee survey on what type of transport is used to and from work.5|
1 The objective is no longer pursued due to strategic reassessment.
2 The original objective was split into two objectives due to strategic reassessment.
3 Waste water volume was reduced by only 0.288 % in 2019, but was reduced by more than 10 % over the entire reporting period.
4 In order to ensure better measurability, Hochland has changed the formulation of this target from 2020.
5 The survey was conducted in 2017 – no new survey was conducted in 2018 and 2019.
|Target not achieved||Target partially achieved||Target largely achieved||Target fully achieved|
|By 2025, Hochland production will be climate-neutral – emissions at the sites will be reduced by 50 % (reference year 2018).|
|Hochland will reduce the climate footprint of its milk by 35 % by 2025 (reference year 2019).|
|By 2025, all packaging materials will be recyclable at Hochland and will consist of at least 30 % renewable raw materials.|
|Hochland is continuously working to convert all packaging materials to bio-based, renewable raw materials by 2030.|
|Hochland will implement software to determine the CO2 footprint of its packaging materials in 2020.|
|By the end of 2020, Hochland will be converting the plastic content of its Grünländer brand packaging to recyclable films and has set itself the target of acquiring the »Made for Recyling« seal.|
|Hochland will reduce the amount of their disposal waste by 1 % annually.|
We can only remain economically successful in the long term if we use resources in a socially and ecologically responsible manner instead of consuming them. Decision-making aids draw on the principle of the circular economy.
As a food producer and refiner of the natural product milk, Hochland is dependent on an intact environment. This provides an important foundation for its business. Using natural resources carefully and economically not only has a positive ecological impact, it is also beneficial economically. Customers and consumers also expect Hochland to treat nature and the environment responsibly.
At Hochland, the careful use of resources affects the following fields in particular:
Use of resources and waste
The most important requirements that Hochland places on its packaging are the best possible protection of the products with the least possible environmental impact. The company is therefore constantly optimising its packaging in terms of material use and recyclability.
Hochland uses innovative technologies for this purpose and is increasingly focusing on recyclable materials and materials made from renewable, bio-based raw materials. Fields of application for recyclates are tested and, where possible, incorporated into packaging materials. Hochland is also considering the use of materials from chemical recycling.
In 2019, Hochland drew up a packaging policy for this purpose, which sets out the above-mentioned objectives. The core objectives are more sustainable packaging solutions that reduce the CO2 footprint and move towards closed-loop recycling – with closed recycling cycles and the reuse of materials.
To this end, Hochland looks to deploy packaging concepts that involve the lowest possible use of materials and tries to reduce the packaging waste generated throughout the entire supply chain. Wherever possible, the company uses recyclable materials that are compatible with current recycling systems. Hochland also optimises the outer packaging for transport and distribution with a view to minimising the use of materials.
Hochland has been working on the development of bioplastics for its product packaging for several years. In 2014, the company joined a consortium dedicated to research and development in this field.
Less Material Input – More Recycling
Consumption of packaging material per ton of finished product fell steadily during the period under review. Hochland has reduced this figure by 2.3 to 6.4 percent annually between 2017 and 2019. The company also continuously reduced the share of plastic packaging in total packaging material during the reporting period – from around 36 percent in 2017 to around 32 percent in 2019. Total consumption of packaging materials increased slightly during the period under review, as the volume of finished goods produced also increased. In the retail sector, Hochland is registering a trend towards smaller packaging units, which is partly reversing efforts to reduce packaging material.
Over the last few years, Hochland’s application engineers, in cooperation with film manufacturers, have been able to significantly increase the proportion of recycled material in the middle layer of bottom films, which has enabled the proportion of new granulate to be reduced. In addition, film thicknesses have also been continuously reduced. In 2019, Hochland replaced about 530 tons of PET (polyester, polyethylene terephthalate) for packaging thermoforming sheet in the middle layer with recycled PET, thus saving the same amount of newly produced PET (virgin PET). For example, the proportion of PET recyclate in packaging trays for the Grünländer brand was gradually increased from zero to 54 percent in 2019. This is only a temporary solution for Hochland. In the next step, the company is already working on completely converting the plastic part of its packaging for the Grünländer brand to recyclable films. The aim is to obtain the label Made for Recycling by Interseroh Dienstleistungs GmbH. Since 2019, the company has tested software that determines the ecological footprint of its packaging. Hochland has also compiled an overview of the recyclability of its packaging. In order to meet the requirements of a retail customer in terms of recyclability, Hochland has launched a project to coordinate the adaptation of packaging at various production facilities.
The most important goal of waste management at Hochland is to avoid waste wherever possible. Where this cannot be achieved, the company tries to reduce the amount of waste. Unavoidable waste is reused wherever possible. If this is not possible, it is disposed of professionally. Waste avoidance and reduction protects the environment while at the same time offering economic benefits.
At its Heimenkirch and Schongau sites, Hochland has appointed waste officers who advise the management, environmental committees and departmental and shift managers on all matters relating to waste management.
Annual waste balances are the central instrument of Hochland’s recycling management. They document quantities, origin and type of waste. In addition, the company is in close contact with suppliers and specialist waste management companies.
During the reporting period, Hochland was unable to continuously reduce the total amount of waste due to increased production volumes. In relation to the production volume, however, the amount of waste was slightly reduced. From 2016 to 2019, the amount of waste per ton of finished product fell by around 1.3 percent. The recycling rate1 for Hochland is above the legally required level of 90 percent. The company intends to further increase this quota. The total volume of waste (waste for disposal) is to be reduced by one percent annually.
1 The recovery quota refers to material or thermal recovery
Avoid, Reduce, Separate and Recycle
At Hochland, all waste is separated according to type. Special containers and collection containers are available for this purpose. Organic waste, waste paper and plastics have all been almost completely recycled. Together with the environmental officers and specialist companies, Hochland's waste officers look for ways to conserve resources and achieve the best possible recycling or disposal. The company raises awareness among employees with the aim of ensuring a recycling rate of 95 percent in the long term.
Waste that must be disposed of at the Heimenkirch site is documented in a waste balance sheet. In addition to the classification of waste, the quantities, origin and type of collection are recorded. At the Schongau site, Hochland launched a project in autumn 2018 in cooperation with specialist waste management companies to further reduce, avoid and select production waste. By using suitable software to record the results, the company gains transparent insights into the origin and flows of various waste fractions. Building on this, Hochland trains employees and makes use of targeted optimisation measures.
No Plastics from Fermentation Substrate in Fields
Together with its milk producers, Hochland has banned fermentation substrates from so-called non-NAWARO plants (NAWARO stands for renewable raw materials) from their fields since January 2019. This applies to residues from biogas plants in which packaged food waste is processed, as plastic particles can find their way into fields and meadows and thus also into the feed cycle and into rivers.
In many parts of the world, drinking water is a scarce and difficult to access commodity. As a company that acts responsibly, Hochland endeavours to handle this resource with care. Food processing companies, especially dairies, consume relatively large amounts of water in production, and the volume of waste water is therefore high. The goal for both plants is to reduce fresh water consumption and waste water volumes by at least one percent annually. For the Schongau plant, the additional ambition is to reduce water consumption by 2.5 percent annually, based on the volume of milk processed.
During the period under review Hochland was able to continuously reduce water consumption and waste water volumes in relation to the quantity of finished goods produced. From 2016 to 2019, water consumption per ton of finished product fell by around 14 percent. Hochland also achieved the targets for the individual sites in the reporting period.
Water from the Region and from Own Sources
Hochland needs water mainly to produce steam, for the manufacturing process and for cleaning and cooling. For reasons of hygiene, German food law requires that only water of drinking water quality be used for cleaning and direct steam heating. Hochland obtains all its production water from the plant regions via the respective water board.
Refrigeration and sanitary facilities are considered to be less sensitive areas. Here, mainly company-owned spring water is used. Hochland has two deep wells at its Schongau plant. At the Heimenkirch plant, the company covers about twelve percent of its water requirements from its own spring.
DEVELOPMENT OF WATER CONSUMPTION PER TON OF FINISHED PRODUCT
Separating Waste Water and Disposing of it Cleanly
The production waste water is disposed of at both Hochland plants via a completely separate sewer system. At the Heimenkirch site, surface water and waste water are separated. The former is channelled into the Leiblach river. All other waste water goes to the municipal sewage treatment plant. At the Schongau site, the production waste water is treated in the company’s own waste water treatment plant. It may then be discharged into the nearby River Lech. Only sanitary waste water is discharged into the municipal sewage treatment plant in Schongau. According to official monitoring, no limits of the company's own sewage treatment plant were exceeded during the reporting period.
In its water management concept, Hochland continuously optimises processes and plant technologies. The company already increased the capacity of the hot water tanks at the Heimenkirch site by 55 percent in the last reporting period.
In the current reporting period, a further large tank was converted to store production waste heat, thereby increasing storage capacity by a further 30 percent. Hochland has succeeded in reducing the consumption of fresh water by using water several times. In the new tank, the water heated by cooling systems is stored and used for cleaning purposes, for example. In addition, the amount of waste water is reduced and the production waste heat is used more effectively.
Reducing CO2 emissions in order to counteract climate change is one of the central challenges of our time. This applies to us at Hochland, too. Measures for reducing and compensating for our CO2 emissions are therefore particularly urgent for us.
Hochland primarily uses natural gas and electricity as energy sources. By far the largest share of energy consumption is accounted for by the production process. In order to minimise energy consumption, Hochland relies on a combination of innovative technology, resource-saving steps and the use of renewable energies for its products, processes and facilities. This approach is also of economic importance for the company in times of rising energy prices.
Hochland intends to reduce its energy consumption per ton of finished goods by 20 percent between 2012 and 2025. The company was not able to meet its original target date of 2020 due to large savings that were already realised before 2012.
Hochland sites have efficient energy management systems. The company derives measures to increase energy efficiency from the results of regular energy performance assessments, among other things. In 2019, Hochland drew up site climate balance sheets for its plants in order to be able to decide on compensation measures that would make the sites climate-neutral. As a result, the company has offset all the energy sources from its production sites in cooperation with the Plant for the Planet organization, retroactively for the year 2018. Also in 2019, Hochland joined forces with Plant for the Planet to set up a climate academy for school children from the region. In the same year, the company switched its electricity procurement to 100 percent green electricity.
Hochland uses environmental and energy management systems that are audited annually. These are established as certified standards – according to ISO 50001:2011, EMAS III, ISO 14001 + Cor. 2009, and in accordance with BS OHSAS 18001:2007. Since 2019 also according to ISO 45001:2018, which replaces BS OHSAS 18001:2007.
DEVELOPMENT OF ENERGY CONSUMPTION PER TON OF FINISHED PRODUCT
Hochland always strives to use the most energy-efficient technology possible. At both locations, older pumps and motors were therefore systematically replaced by more efficient models during the reporting period. At the Schongau site, Hochland has replaced the previous lighting with fluorescent bulbs, in production and administration, with more energy-efficient LED lighting.
At the Heimenkirch site, the company has renovated part of the administration building with around 180 workplaces. Among other things, energy-saving measures were implemented there: a fully heat-insulated facade, window panes with heat filter, external shading, energy-saving individual workplace lights, motion detectors and daylight sensors for light control, complete LED lighting, room cooling with spring water, heating with waste heat from productionand energy-efficient ventilation. A photovoltaic system is used to generate renewable energy. The company also installed a new, more efficient refrigeration system at the Heimenkirch site in the period under review, which saves around one million kilowatt hours of electricity per year compared to the old system.
Environmentally Friendly Energy Supply
Since 2019, Hochland has only purchased green electricity from renewable sources. At the Schongau site, the company produces electricity for three of its own combined heat and power plants.
Evaluating Energy Demand
For the Schongau site, the goal for Hochland, based on the year 2012, was to reduce the total energy requirement per ton of processed milk by 20 percent by the end of 2020. The annual milestones were achieved during the reporting period. The target for the Heimenkirch site was to reduce the total energy requirement per ton of finished goods by 20 percent by the end of 2020, based on the year 2012. The annual milestones were not achieved every year during the reporting period.
Logistics and Mobility
Efficient logistics are an important part of Hochland’s environmental strategy. When transporting raw materials and finished products as well as when employees travel to their workplace, emissions are generated which the company would like to reduce.
Trucking companies which are longstanding Hochland partners handle the delivery of raw materials and the transport of finished products. Hochland is also trying to further shorten the distances involved in milk collection by means of optimised route planning. When delivering products, the company tries to transport more goods with fewer vehicles through intelligent planning. This saves fuel and thus also emissions.
Hochland has an extensive product portfolio at its Heimenkirch location. There are conflicts of interest here, because in some cases there are no suppliers available in the region for special raw material qualities. As a consequence, Hochland has to accept longer transport distances.
To reduce the amount of travel for Hochland employees, video conference rooms are available at all locations and the company-wide offer of holding digital »Teams« meetings. Should business trips nevertheless be necessary, employees are encouraged to use the most environmentally friendly means of transport. If possible, car pools are to be formed for journeys with company vehicles, which can be organised unbureaucratically via the company’s own intranet. Since 2019, there have been specially designated parking facilities for car pools, which reward car pool drivers with conveniently located parking spaces. For its own vehicle pool, Hochland purchased two electric vehicles and installed eight charging points in 2017. The charging facilities are available to employees and guests.
For company cars, Hochland’s car policy features a bonus and sanction ruling depending on CO2 emissions. For purely electric vehicles, the company grants an additional bonus as well as an additional financial benefit for the installation of a private wall box. The first electric vehicle has been in use as a company car since 2019. In future Hochland will work with an external service provider for operational fleet management in order to further optimise this area, particularly with regard to CO2 emissions.
Hochland uses largely electrically operated forklift trucks and industrial trucks for transporting goods and materials within the plants.