As one of the country's biggest food producers, Charoen Pokphand Foods is increasingly using advances in technology to maintain its margins - enabling it to save costs and also conserve energy.
Under its “Green Business” policy, CPF is looking at ways to save energy at each stage of the production process, ensuring that the end product delivered to the consumer is produced with as little impact to the environment as possible.
“The company’s top management has placed a strong emphasis on energy efficiency. It’s a policy that has been in place within all of our business units since 2004,” said Charubutr Kirdudom, assistant vice president of CPF’s Safety Health and Environment (SHE) Office.
For the energy policy to work, it was necessary that the company’s employees were made aware of the importance of energy efficiency and the company’s target to reduce energy consumption by 20 per cent.
“Since 2004, the company has incorporated many energy-saving processes in its business units and subsidiaries. In fact, we have introduced more than 200 processes and have invested about Bt350 million in them. This has helped us to save energy and also around Bt1 billion in costs,” Charubutr said.
His department is now in charge of the “CPF SHE Reporting System”, which compiles information from the company’s business units to ensure the green policy is being effectively utilised.
Three areas in focus
The policy focuses on three key areas, the first two of which are the efficient use of resources and the improvement of operations, which leads to more effective energy-saving.
The latter is also achieved with the use of high-quality machinery designed for specific tasks. Staff training projects have also been conducted to demonstrate processes of energy consumption.
The third key area is improvement in waste management, in order to save and recover any wastage of water.
Energy-saving technologies are also used to utilise things like waste heat and reuse it in steam boilers, while the company has also tapped into biogas – sourced from farms and food-processing plants.
Renewable energy is now a prominent source of energy for the company, which operates 16 manufacturing plants nationwide. Renewable energy, accounting for 14 per cent of total energy consumption in 2008, was raised to 22 per cent last year.
“At present, at all of the company’s 16 feed plants, including 11 for livestock production and aquatic feed mills, biogas becomes primary energy and this can reduce fuel consumption by more than 46 million litres per and up to 138,000 tonnes of CO2,” said the executive.
CPF also turns used vegetable oil from its fried-chicken manufacturing plants to produce pure biodiesel.
The company recently opened a new biodiesel factory at its Min Buri1slaughter and processing plant. The plant has the capacity to utilise about 50,000 litres used vegetable oil per month.
The company now has the combined capacity to produce 2.3 million litres of biodiesel per year: 960,000 litres from its Saraburi plant, 744,000 litres from Nakhon Ratchasima and 600,000 litres from Min Buri.
With biodiesel, the company relies less on fuel oil in its chicken-processing factories, which helps shield it from price volatility. Meanwhile, the used oil is taken care of in an environment-friendly and hygienic way, he said.
Through these strategies, electricity last year accounted for 48 per cent of energy consumed by the company. The rest was a mixture of fossil fuels such as fuel oil and coal, as well as renewable energy like biomass from palm shells, rice husk and chopped wood.
Moreover, CPF is also seeking materials from nearby communities to generate renewable energy, thus lessening global-warming impacts and reducing energy imports. This will also generate income for the locals and create new jobs, Charubutr said.
CPF will, he added, continue to expand the energy-saving policy through the establishment of a co-generation project to produce electricity and steam for use in the manufacturing process.
Its co-generation plant in Saraburi now serves as a model for the extension of another three such projects: Min Buri 2, Nong Chok and Saraburi Phase II.
These projects fall under the Clean Development Mechanism in the form of the “CDM-Bundle Programme” with a combined investment of Bt500 million.
The overall project is expected to save 50,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and reduce CO2 emission by 30,000 tonnes per year.
Successful biogas production at the Min Buri I plant will also be replicated at another six manufacturing plants in Rayong, Samut Sakhon, Songkhla, Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok.
Solar energy is also generated at the Min Buri I processing plant, in order to warm water. This reduces the use of bunker oil by 146,000 litres per year and greenhouse-gas emission by 432 tonnes of CO2 annually.
Charubutr added that in the next three to five years, CPF would encourage all department units to create new energy innovation, while the production chain would be improved to achieve the international energy-management standard – and awareness among employees at all levels would also be heightened.
“Only this will help the company achieve sustainable energy efficiency, to support CPF’s aim to generate Bt7 billion in annual sales within the next five years,” he said.