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Reducing CO2 emissions while cutting costs: engineering expert discusses the best solutions for food manufacturers

29/09/2022

MONITORING and reducing CO2 emissions in the UK is a requirement for all sectors of the UK economy if we are to stay on the right path to achieve our Net Zero target by 2050.

And intensifying our efforts across the food industry, which is notoriously responsible for more than a third of global C02 emissions, has the potential to have an even more considerable impact when compared to other industries.

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While most believe that investing in the likes of electric cars, wind turbines or solar photovoltaics is the only way to make an impact, the reality is that change that starts on a smaller scale can be much more effective – and less intimidating.

As the ‘big’ solutions also come with hefty costs, business owners should be focusing on where they can get the most benefit with the least expenditure.

With a strong commitment to reducing C02 emissions and operating responsibly, UK engineering company adi Group strives to keep environmentally safe practices at the core of their work.

Below, Ian Hart, business development Director at adi Projects, a subdivision of the multidisciplinary firm adi Group, lays out some simple solutions business owners can adopt to minimise their carbon footprint while keeping costs down.

  1. LED lighting

Food factories and other facilities require a large amount of lighting to run efficiently. Currently, inefficient lighting is still widely used across the UK, meaning a global switch to LED lighting could help save over 1,400 million tons of CO2.

Utilising LED lighting can also help lower electricity bills significantly. It is estimated that transitioning to LED bulbs from traditional or halogen bulbs could save £1-4 per bulb each year: one can only imagine the impact that such a simple change could have if adopted in commercial buildings and factories across the UK.

  1. Refrigerant management and alternative refrigerants

Fluorinated GHGs (also known as F-gases), are some of the most widely used refrigerants, but they also have a high global warming potential. With such a high risk of leakage, refrigerators can significantly contribute to a building’s whole-life carbon emissions.

Lowering CO2 emissions when utilising refrigerants starts with correct refrigerant management, including reducing the amounts used wherever possible, implementing correct maintenance practices including leak testing and detection and recovering reusable refrigerant.

Using alternative refrigerants with a lower global warming potential, such as ammonia or captured carbon dioxide, can be an equally efficient solution, with the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 42-48 gigatons by 2050. To ensure your fridges are operating with minimal environmental impact, consider upgrading your equipment by contacting a trusted refrigeration components manufacturer.

  1. Solar hot water systems and heat pumps

Solar hot water systems have great potential to lower harmful emissions by harnessing the power of the sun to generate heat instead of using fuel or electricity, as well as helping owners save money in the long run, with the potential for water heating bills to drop by 50-80%.

Other renewable heat-generating systems such as heat pumps – which work by transferring heat instead of burning fuel – can similarly help minimise fossil fuel emissions, having been identified as one of the most effective ways for electricity generation to become progressively cleaner.

  1. Building energy management systems

Typically, around 20% of a business’s annual energy expenditures is wasted through the use of equipment that’s not energy efficient.

BEMS monitor the energy performance of buildings via a single central platform, allowing for full control over lighting and power systems as well as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

This type of equipment can also formulate records of performance, allowing building owners to create reports of their energy expenditure and in turn program equipment with the purpose of optimising energy usage.

  1. Recycling, reducing waste and investigating supply chains

While recycling can involve a variety of complex processes and costly equipment, even the simplest of changes in procedures can lower CO2 emissions while reducing waste, also contributing to building a circular economy, which is the most effective way to reduce pressure on the environment and safeguard natural resources.

Recycling in food factories can involve manufacturing goods from recovered produce – which ultimately requires less energy, while tracking systems designed to provide data relating to production, packaging and shipping can help identify energy inefficient and wasteful procedures or machinery performance issues.

Accounting for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, supply chains in food production are a topic of concern. From transport to food waste, lowering supply chain emissions is a significant challenge, and one that cannot simply be managed all at once.

Actionable solutions involve sourcing locally, wherever possible, investing in durable packaging and using renewable systems and sources of energy for operations such as refrigeration and processing.

Operating pragmatically, by working to achieve what is realistically possible with the least amount of expenses, is the only effective way to drive change on an individual scale.

When done correctly, changing environmentally disruptive practices or systems in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can also keep costs down, and taking small – but effective – steps one at a time is key.

For more information on CO2 reduction strategies and the most cost-effective ways of implementing them across food manufacturing and beyond, please get in touch with adi Group.

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