Hockenheim, Germany. May 9 2016. Sonoco Europe recently received ISO 50001 certification across Germany for its systematic and efficient energy management. The company's facility in Lübeck was certified in 2014, followed last year by facilities in Hockenheim, Bunde and Zwenkau. For Sonoco, the introduction of an energy management system represents a further milestone on the path to even greater sustainability. On a global scale, the company has significantly reduced its CO2 emissions and water usage in recent years while investing in biomass cogeneration.
The certification is based on an in-house energy management system planned and implemented by "energy teams" at the individual production facilities. A server-based knowledge platform enables all sites to access information from the other locations and share the results of any actions taken. "We began by measuring exactly how much energy we are using in each area. Our focus was on electricity as our main energy source. This proved to be an eye-opener in many respects," says Thomas Richter, Energy Management Officer at Sonoco Europe. For instance, it was discovered that lighting alone accounted for as much as 25% of total energy consumption.
Together with experts from DQS, the German Association for Management System Certification, the company conducted a preliminary audit to identify strengths and potential for improvement. One measure was to gradually replace all old lamps with LEDs. This resulted in considerable savings without sacrificing performance. Substantial savings potential was also identified in the compressed air system. An ultrasonic leakage test enabled Sonoco to quickly eliminate leaks in the pipeline and reduce energy consumption. It took about a year to implement all of the measures necessary for certification. The Lübeck site was the first to be certified in 2014, followed in 2015 by the facilities in Hockenheim, Bunde and Zwenkau. The measures described here alone resulted in total energy cost savings for Sonoco of around 2% in the first year.
Hard figures demonstrate sustainability
"Energy costs in Germany are higher than in many other countries and this is regarded as one of the factors that drive inflation. This is why we decided to optimise our energy efficiency by using an energy management system," Richter says. The objective of ISO 50001 is to define quality standards for energy consumption. The idea is to achieve greater transparency in terms of a company's energy flow, help systematically improve energy efficiency, and enable long-term cost savings.
Other measures are aimed at improving the efficiency of production systems. A key factor in purchasing new equipment is the total operating costs including energy consumption. The company is successively replacing older motors used in production with new, more economical alternatives. "Our customers also appreciate the fact that we are now certified for energy efficiency across Germany. More and more consumers want products that are produced according to eco-sustainability principles," Richter explains. "Packaging is a key factor. The less energy the company uses overall, the more it reduces its consumption and the smaller the carbon footprint for packaging production." Richter is particularly pleased to see how the new energy management system enables Sonoco to provide hard figures to demonstrate the eco-sustainability practised by the company for years. "If we manage to produce a higher volume of rigid paperboard containers without increasing energy consumption, we are definitely on the right track."
Commitment to reduce environmental footprint
The new energy management system in Germany adds to Sonoco’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability. Since 2009, the global Sonoco enterprise has reduced its CO2 emissions by 24% and its water usage by more than 40%. Additionally, Sonoco’s global manufacturing operations significantly increased their diversion of wastes from landfill. Sonoco’s impact on the environment is also lowered by the efforts of its recycling subsidiary and biomass cogeneration operations. For more information on Sonoco’s ongoing sustainability efforts, please visit www.sonoco.com/sustainability.
About Sonoco Europe
Sonoco's more than 70 operations in Europe provide customers with solutions in Global Rigid Paper and Closures; Global Plastics; Packaging Services and Graphics Management. Offering a range of packaging materials, packaging services, technical disciplines, material science and manufacturing capabilities, Sonoco takes a holistic approach to providing customized solutions that meet our customers' unique needs. To learn more, visit www.sonocoeurope.com.
Founded in 1899, Sonoco is a global provider of a variety of consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging, and display and packaging services. With annualized net sales of approximately $5.0 billion, the company has 21.000 employees working in more than 330 facilities in 34 countries, serving many of the world's best-known brands in some 85 nations. Sonoco is a proud member of the 2015/2016 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. For more information on the Company, visit our website at www.sonoco.com.
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