Climate and energy
To protect the environment, energy must be saved and used efficiently. That is why we are working on constantly increasing our energy efficiency. How can electricity be saved and waste avoided? How can the use of building and machine technology be improved, right down to company cars? These are the questions asked by our energy management team, which was set up by the management several years ago. We are on the way to climate neutrality and have set the reduction of all emissions as our primary goal, which we want to achieve through the following measures. Since 2010, we have been obtaining 180,000 kWh of environmentally friendly solar power annually from the photovoltaic system on our company roof, which covers an area of 1600 square metres. Another major project is the commissioning of a new combined heat and power plant. With this efficient power and heat supply, we would save over 8 percent of energy due to its high degree of efficiency. In recent years, the topic of saving energy through lighting has been taken up on repeated occasions. Thus many rooms are now equipped with LED lighting controlled by a motion detector.
Membership of the REGINEE network
AVO is a member of the REGINEE network. REGINEE – REGIonal Network for Energy Efficiency – is part of the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE) and the Initiative for Energy Efficiency Networks (IEEn) of the German federal government. These initiatives support companies in the exchange of information on energy efficiency topics and encourage them to set self-imposed savings targets. The aim is to make a contribution to climate protection.
In addition to the federal government, the initiators consist of more than 20 associations along with various industrial organisations. AVO is part of the REGINEE network in Emsland. Together with nine other companies, in the period from 2016 to 2020 AVO has succeeded in saving a total of 20.5 gigawatt hours of energy and 6000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. For this, the Emsland network has won an award from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
West plant expansion
We just completed our new logistics centre at the Belm site at the beginning of 2021. This means we no longer have to outsource parts of our warehouse and so can reduce transport distances. The new logistics centre was built on the recycled floor slab of the former buildings so as to ensure the sparing use of our resources.
To ensure maximum pallet utilisation, we have changed the greater part of our bucket packaging from round to square containers, which utilise the maximum space of an E2 tub. On the one hand this saves on logistics costs, while at the same time the transport vehicles can be loaded more efficiently, thus saving a large proportion of CO2 emissions. In 2022, the focus is on packaging. So far, we already supply a large part of our industrial customers with reusable packaging, in this case with IBC containers. In addition, we have been working on recyclable packaging in cooperation with various packaging manufacturers. The first tests have already been carried out and we hope to achieve the greatest possible conversion of our packaging materials in the tubular bag sector by the beginning of 2023.
With the construction of our new logistics centre, an additional 2000 square metres of green space was created on which various trees were planted. Our newly created parking spaces were built on 5000 square metres of percolating paving. In this way, we support the natural water cycle at our Belm site and take the strain off the sewerage system and sewage treatment plants.
In 2020, we launched the first pepper cultivation project in Germany in cooperation with Osnabrück University of the Applied Sciences. This project is aimed at developing and optimising a cultivation system for pepper plants, in order to expand and pass on the knowledge of optimal cultivation conditions.
Biodiversity – organic assortment
Our sales of certified organic products are increasing every year and our company goal is to carry on expanding this assortment. AVO has been certified organic since 1999 and we have had a standard organic range since 2007. Our products comply with the EU organic standard, and since 2019 AVO has been a partner of Naturland, the registered association for organic farming. Since then, the total volume has grown to 600 tonnes of organic spices, spice blends and liquid seasonings. In the past five years, growth has increased by 200 percent. The share of organic products in the product range is five percent with a strong upward trend. AVO is the market leader within the spice industry in this segment, and has a greater organic assortment than any of its competitors.
Reduced use of palm oil
We also want to reduce the use of palm oil to a minimum. Palm oil is only used in recipes requested by customers. The palm oil we currently use is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) under controlled cultivation methods. By not using palm oil, we aim to counteract the large-scale destruction of tropical primeval forests.
In 2016, AVO developed numerous products for the creation of vegetarian and vegan alternatives to meat products, especially sausages, under the label ‘No MEAT’.
Market acceptance is initially not as great as the food trade and food industry imagine. The proportion of people who eat a partially or completely meat-free diet remains at one to three percent of the total population. But three years later, a new market dynamic has been developing. While moral values have always been cited by consumers who abstain from meat products, the connection to the climate has now become the decisive component in many consumers’ evaluation of their own consumption habits.
In the wake of this, AVO has responded to the growing demand for products made from alternative proteins by setting up its own development section. Since 2019, this has been managed as an independent division. Also in 2019, AVO will become a member of BALPro, the Association for Alternative Protein Sources. This is not about a revolution against animal products or other product categories, but advocates an objective view of alternative protein sources and the corresponding technologies for their development. The accessibility of relevant technologies, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises with low research and development budgets, is particularly important to the association.