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By-products of Hartwall’s beverage production are put into good use

Minimising environmental impact is an important aspect of Hartwall’s commitment to sustainability. By-products of beverage production are used for example to make bioethanol and feed livestock.

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Hartwall is continuously working to reduce the environmental impact of its operations. The latest Sustainability Report names minimisation of waste through recycling as one of the essential solutions. At Hartwall’s brewery in Lahti up to 97.7% of waste is recycled.

Every possible thing from cardboard to wood, aluminium and plastic is sorted at the brewery.

“It is amazing how well all materials can be reused. Recycling is first and foremost sustainable, but it is also cost-efficient,” says Energy and Automation Manager Sami Pohjanen.

In addition to materials, the brewery also recycles the by-products of beverage production, such as mash, surplus yeast and waste liquids.

Mash and yeast are used as animal feed

Mash, which is a by-product of beer brewing, has long been sold to animal feed suppliers.

“The amount of mash that we produce annually defies imagination. Hundreds of truckloads are taken to animal feed suppliers every year. From there the mash is transported to farmers, who use it to feed their livestock. Mash makes good animal feed,” says Pohjanen.

The surplus yeast from beer brewing also used to be taken to farms as animal feed, but these days it is first used for making bioethanol. In Lahti, yeast flows from the brewery through pipes to St1’s bioethanol plant in the backyard.

“We recover alcohol from the yeast and after that it is delivered to local pig farms to be used as animal feed. Yeast is an important source of protein in animal nutrition, and it can be used instead of imported soy,” says Service Manager Erja Hazley from St1.

Waste beverages are great mixers

St1 set up the Etanolix plant that is integrated into Hartwall’s production facilities in Lahti in 2010. The underlying reason for this was that as a fuel retailer St1 was required by the law to replace a proportion of its fossil fuels with biofuels. Back then the obligatory biofuel quota for fuel retailers was 5%. It has increased every year, and in 2020 the proportion of biofuels needs to be 20%.

“The idea of working together with Hartwall originated completely from our need, as we were considering where we could find raw material for producing biofuel,” says Hazley.

St1 has four Etanolix plants in Finland. They all reuse waste from food and beverage industry and leftovers. The Etanolix plant in Lahti receives also surplus bread and dough from bakeries, shops and charity organisations in the region.

In addition to surplus yeast, all waste liquids of beverage production at Hartwall also flow to the St1 plant. Beverages go to waste for example when the bottling batch changes.

“In the beginning and end of a production lot there is always a certain number of bottles that cannot go into production. They are crushed and the liquid is delivered to St1,” says Pohjanen.

At St1 the waste beverages are mixed with by-products from other sources.

“Waste beverages from Hartwall are great mixers with for example surplus dough and bread. Using beverages reduces our water consumption, and the alcohol and sugar that the beverages may contain boost the fermentation process. Cooperation with Hartwall is industrial synergy at its best,” says Hazley.

Demand for bioethanol is growing strongly

The capacity of St1’s Etanolix plant at Lahti is 1 million litres of bioethanol per year. About 40% of the bioethanol is made of raw materials that are deliver by Hartwall.

The plant in Lahti produces 85% bioethanol which is transported into the absolutisation plant in Hamina for dehydration. There it becomes 99.8% ethanol that is ready for blending with petrol.

“Consumers have received biofuels well. Many have used them probably not even knowing it, because even the traditional 95 and 98 fuels contain a small bioethanol component,” Hazley says.

Demand for biofuels will continue to grow because the requirements in the EU for transport emissions get increasingly stringent. The Finnish government plans to set the obligatory biofuel quota for fuel retailers at 25% in 2030.