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Sustainability plays a central role in the production of dairy products. Key factors include the energy consumption of factories and plants, the optimisation of water consumption, wastewater disposal and treatment, and compliance with the directives for plant emissions. These factors are structured by ISO 14001 and 50001 and systematically certified by an accredited company.

Reducing water consumption

Water is a key component for production. At our DMK sites, approximately only 1.12 litres of water (2019) is consumed per kilo of raw milk processed. This sets the DMK Group apart from the average achieved by all the dairy operations in Germany – and by a clear margin. According to the “Water/wastewater 2017” survey carried out by the German Milk Industry Association (MIV), the average is around 2.05 l/kg. This positive trend has continued for several years now and clearly shows how well positioned we are in this area. Of course, the reduction of water consumption has also resulted in wastewater savings.

The savings in water consumption have been made thanks to a variety of individual measures put in place in our production plants.

Making drinking water out of milk? We can do that.

As part of the “B-WaterSmart” initiative, DMK’s Edewecht site is breaking new ground in lowering water consumption.

In the summer of 2020, water became scarce in some German districts. This isn’t the first incident to show us the importance of using resources responsibly. This is why the Oldenburg East-Friesian Water Association (OOWV) and DMK are carrying out a case-study as part of the EU research initiative “B-WaterSmart”. Together, we are looking for possible methods for lowering the consumption of drinking water in specific areas of the economy – or for developing new ways to obtain drinking water.

 

At the DMK site in Edewecht, the focus is on processing vapours so that for the first time they can replace drinking water. Vapours accumulate in many diaries during the evaporation of milk, for example. The condensates are similar to distilled water, however, they are contaminated with organic impurities.

“By using treated water, we see great potential to reduce the consumption of drinking water and thus conserve groundwater resources,”

Oliver Horstmann, water and environmental protection officer at the Edewecht site

In cooperation with a plant engineer, a suitable pilot facility is due to be developed and operated. The aim of the project is to develop a safe process so that the treated water meets the quality requirements of the Drinking Water Ordinance and can therefore be safely recycled as a replacement for drinking water during processes carried out at the diary. If this ambitious project proves to be possible to implement technically, the process will in future be used with drying at DMK sites.

 

The “B-WaterSmart” initiative is part of the “Horizon 2020” EU programme and has a budget of 15 million euros, a fifth of which is designated to Germany to fund various project participants. A total of 36 project partners from eight countries will work together over the next four years.

Lower energy consumption

At DMK, energy management is part of its integrated management system. All sites are certified according to ISO 50001, the worldwide applicable standard for systematic energy management, and thus meet the highest requirements regarding the responsible use of energy.

Our aim is to continuously lower energy consumption by creating greater energy efficiency in our plants. Once again, we have been successful this year, with an energy consumption of approx. 1.7% lower than last year.

 

As part of the “Kopernikus Projects for Energy Transition” promoted by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, DMK’s energy management team is working on ways to make energy more efficient and more beneficial to the grid. In the “SynErgie” sub-project, we are pushing ahead with key model calculations, which provide information about how individual production processes and plants can be included in the energy market in a flexible and profitable way.

We have also been able to use this knowledge in practice in a demonstration model at our plant in Edewecht. We also have a plan to integrate cold storage into the whole model.

In a second funding phase, DMK Group’s energy management team will now spend three more years on optimising the flexibility of cooling systems. To this end, from 2020 several plants will be reviewed to see if there is any potential for optimisation.

 

Cutting carbon dioxide

Our aim is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. One of a number of possibilities is to operate the biomass heating plant at the Waren site. Here, biomass (wood chips) are used as an alternative to fossil fuels to produce process steam.

The biomass used only consists of natural wood. It comprises wood and wood components produced in agricultural, forestry or horticultural businesses or within the framework of landscape conservation, such as tree and shrub cuttings, thinning wood and waste forest wood. A max amount of fuel from 8100 tons can be used per year.

 

The wood is burned in the combustion plant. The resulting fumes in the combustion room are used to generate steam via a downstream boiler system. The resulting steam is made available to the production areas as process steam.

The site is thus able to prevent annual emissions of 2500 tons of the greenhouse gas, CO2, when compared with fossil fuels like gas.

 

Our practices.

Sustainability as a collective task