At Chr. Hansen, waste is being collected and recycled to create new resources as never before. In just five years, recycling of secondary waste fractions has increased from 18% to 50%.
Stena Recycling pays a weekly visit to Chr. Hansen's laboratories in Hørsholm and Avedøre, to gather, label and pick up hazardous waste. It is also important that everything that can be recycled actually is. Hazardous waste containing metal – such as aerosol cans, oil filters and batteries – are sorted, preprocessed and subsequently sent for recycling in either Denmark or Germany. Waste that cannot be recycled into new materials is incinerated at approved incineration plants and thereby used for energy production.
“When Stena Recycling collects our hazardous waste, we know that it will be safely and correctly labeled, handled and transported, in accordance with all applicable legislation,” says Ninkie Bendtsen, environmental coordinator at Chr. Hansen.
With a business strategy called Nature’s No. 1, it is no surprise that sustainable recycling is high on the agenda at the bioscience company Chr. Hansen. Over the past eight years, Chr. Hansen in Denmark has been working with Stena Recycling in converting waste into new resources. The company's global target is to achieve a degree of recycling of 40%. That target was achieved long ago in Denmark, and in just five years, recycling has increased from 18% to 50% for secondary waste fractions such as plastics, cardboard and metal. Chr. Hansen’s primary flow of waste is eluate (a liquid residual fraction from centrifugation, etc.) that is removed for use in artificial fertilizers and at biogas plants.
Today, Stena Recycling is a complete supplier in waste management for Chr. Hansen and has in-depth knowledge of the company's production, everyday operations and products. This knowledge helps create results and forms the basis for the development of solutions that work in everyday operations.
“As a total supplier, Stena Recycling has gradually gained extensive knowledge of our company and our needs,” says Ninkie Bendtsen. “This knowledge puts Stena Recycling in a position to contribute with effective suggestions for improvements, as well as ideas about how we can replicate solutions from site to site.”
Before the partnership with Stena Recycling, Chr. Hansen had overall responsibility for managing the company’s waste. With the rapid developments in the waste industry, it was becoming a challenge to keep up with new technology, potential solutions and legal requirements.
“Sustainability is deeply engrained in our environmental management, simply because it is the right thing to do, but it also needs to make good business sense,” says Ninkie Bendtsen. “That is why we wanted a single partner who could handle as many of our waste fractions as possible and be able to give us periodic advice on new and better solutions.”
Stena Recycling’s primary task at Chr. Hansen is to ensure that the company’s waste fractions are collected safely and effectively – and re-used. All forms of waste – including cardboard, paper, iron, wood, hazardous waste and biowaste – are converted either into new raw materials or into energy. Approximately 350 metric tons of biowaste is recycled every year as artificial fertilizers and as fuel for biogas plants, and bulk tanks are either re-used or recycled in producing new plastic and metal products. Both hard and soft plastics are collected, cleaned and recycled, as well as paper and cardboard, which is used in the production of new cardboard and paper.
In order to ensure that the many different waste fractions are correctly sorted and to gain an overview of the types of waste produced, Chr. Hansen receives a weekly visit from Stena Recycling’s Anne Sørensen, who checks that the waste goes to the right waste containers. If the waste is not correctly sorted, Anne sends a photo of the incorrect sorting to Chr. Hansen, so that the problem can be rectified. At the same time, Anne provides suggestions for improvements on how incorrect sorting can be avoided in the future as well as ideas about which other types of waste can also be sorted and recycled. In addition to increasing recycling, waste management at Chr. Hansen is optimized.
A safer work environment for employees is a bonus of partnering with Stena Recycling. Automated waste solutions and machinery that performs the hard work, means better ergonomics and greatly reduces heavy lifting for Chr. Hansen employees. Stena Recycling is also responsible for service and preventive maintenance of the company's waste compressors, saving both time and resources, and increasing safety at the workplace.
“Partnership with Stena Recycling reduces the risk of accidents and ensures that we can offer our employees a safe and secure working environment,” says Ninkie Bendtsen.
Effective waste management and sustainable recycling contributes not only to a safer work environment but also to an even stronger green image at Chr. Hansen.
“It is important for our partners, customers and end-users that we act responsibly when it comes to the environment and working conditions,” says Ninkie Bendtsen. “Waste management and recycling cannot this on their own but they do make a positive contribution.”
With a recycling degree of 50% of secondary waste fractions, Chr. Hansen is the front-runner in Denmark for waste sorting and is able to contribute valuable knowledge and experience to future work with increasing the global percentage of recycling at Chr. Hansen. The global target for 2020 is a recycling percentage of 40% and all eyes are on Denmark for know-how, inspiration and learning.
“We are conscientiously working towards contributing to the UN’s sustainability goal number 12. This goal is about reducing the quantity of waste and we have strict requirements for both our producers’ interaction with the market and also our own use of resources”, says global environmental specialist Lars Stern. “Here, our Danish model for waste management can serve as inspiration for our global production sites. Through our Global Environmental Excellence Center in Denmark, we have put increased focus on waste sorting and recycling globally, and we are seeing that our colleagues abroad often contact us to learn about new opportunities and methods. In our Danish projects, for example, we focus on safety and good ergonomics in everyday operations, and this is something we want to share with our global units.”
Even if the 2020 target for sustainable recycling has been fully achieved in Chr. Hansen’s Danish operations, work continues. The organization is working conscientiously to achieve new objectives for 2022 and to further optimize waste sorting. At Chr. Hansen, environmental assessments of individual waste solutions serve as a tool for choosing the best solutions, and in addition – with more information and data from Stena Recycling – becoming even better at telling the story of their waste management.
“In the future, we would like to become even better at telling our stakeholders what happens to our waste,” says Ninkie Bendtsen. “Which processes does the waste undergo, which new resources does it become and where does it end up? These are some of the aspects of the waste management story that we would like to relate in the future.”