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Over one quarter of Firmenich factories running on clean energy

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Niamh Michail

By Niamh Michail+

Last updated on 17-Jul-2017 at 15:14 GMT2017-07-17T15:14:17Z

© iStock/Petmal
© iStock/Petmal

Over one quarter of Firmenich's factories now run on renewable energy, putting it on track to power all of its manufacturing plants with 100% renewable energy by 2020.

This month, the Geneva-headquartered firm announced that two existing US plants in Princeton and Port Newark now run on wind energy, bringing the total number of factories operating on 100% renewable energy to seven, out of a total of 25 sites around the world.

Of these seven, two are located in Switzerland, one in the UK, one in Norway and one in Belgium, powered primarily by electricity sourced from wind and hydro.

Firmenich, which is the world’s largest privately-owned flavour and fragrance company, now sources more than 65% of its manufacturing electricity from renewable sources globally. 

Aiming to be carbon neutral

“We have set industry-leading environmental goals, in line with our vision to become a carbon neutral company,” said its CEO, Gilbert Ghostine.­ “[These] investments in clean energy are a key milestone in reaching our goal of 100% of our manufacturing sites powered from renewables by 2020.”

Johanna Levy, director of sustainability for North America, told us the path to renewable energy does not always run smoothly. “For global companies, such as Firmenich, switching to 100% renewable electricity is simpler in some regions than others. Some countries may lack infrastructures, or open energy markets. Companies have to be committed to go beyond this hurdles and work locally to find creative solutions.”

Nevertheless, she urged other manufacturers to consider making similar commitments.

Collaborate with local suppliers

“Any company should understand their environmental impact and strive to increase efficiency and reduce energy use. In parallel, a switch to renewable energy can typically be done by collaborating with local electricity suppliers.”

Last year announced details of what it says will be its largest renewable energy project to date – buying a renewable briquette boiler for process steam production in Dahej, India which will be fuelled by agricultural waste.

With installation already underway, the boiler is expected to reduce its scope one CO2 emissions by 2,800 tonnes annually. Scope one emissions are direct emissions  from sources that are owned or controlled by the organisation in question.

Over the course of 2016, Firmenich invested CHF 6.91 million (€6.26m) in a broad variety of projects aimed at improving its environmental performance, such as water conservation, wastewater treatment, energy emissions reduction and waste management projects, achieving a zero waste-to-landfill at 40% of its manufacturing sites.

It reported an annual turnover of 3.2 billion Swiss Francs (€3.9bn) for the same year. 

Anglo-Dutch manufacturer Unilever has set itself similar targets and aims to power 100% of its UK manufacturing sites using renewable energy, such as wind, hydro or biomethane gas, by 2030. Fifteen of its UK plants currently run on renewable energy.

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