Water, Energy, and Community Projects: A Triple Approach To Sustainability in the Ukraine
March 29, 2021
Within the last two years, OSI’s food manufacturing plant in Ukraine has seen major progress with embedding core sustainability principles into the company which also align to OSI’s global sustainability strategy. These goals are centred on the environment, conservation and community engagement.
OSI Ukraine (Koziatynskyi miasokombinat) has prioritized improving water quality, reducing energy consumption, and education and community projects. The work undertaken showcases three approaches which any food manufacturing plant may take to realise their sustainability goals.
Renovation of The Wastewater Purification System
Each year, OSI Ukraine uses approximately 40,000m3 of water, which is treated on-site to remove any pollutants or sediments. The sheer volume of water required for the safe processing of meat makes upgrading water systems to ensure they are as efficient as possible an effective means of improving the overall sustainability of a site.
At OSI Ukraine, renovations have been carried out which have seen a new 13m x 22m basement being built. The new building was constructed with galvanized iron and concrete, with brick partitions inside. It is well-insulated, meaning the system is also more energy efficient.
The new system has enhanced water quality while transforming the process to make water purification more energy efficient. Other food manufacturing sites may consider whether an upgrade to water systems could also enable the achievement or progress towards their sustainability goals.
Energy Generation and Use
OSI Ukraine has taken a two-pronged approach to reducing the environmental impact associated with the plant’s energy consumption. The plant has begun generating renewable energy to power its operations, while also investing in elements to improve efficiency and reduce energy requirements.
To generate renewable energy, the plant has installed 38 monocrystalline solar panels. These are the highest quality panels available in terms of energy output efficiency, as they produce 15 kWt of renewable energy. As well as powering the plant, the energy produced is also distributed into the local electricity grid. The investment has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and savings in energy costs.
In addition to the solar panels, the plant has also invested in nearly 200 LED lamps to replace fluorescent light bulbs in buildings on-site. This has enabled the removal of mercury containing lamps while reducing overall electricity consumption.
Another improvement to energy management on-site has been to replace the gas-powered heating chambers in the sausage production area with electrical equivalents. This has reduced the plant’s gas consumption by 2,400m3 per month, equating to taking over 340 cars off the road in a year.
Embracing renewable energy, switching from gas to renewably generated electricity and upgrading equipment to achieve greater efficiency are steps that any food manufacturing plant may take to improve sustainability through better sourcing and use of energy.
As well as investing to improve environmental sustainability, OSI Ukraine has also improved the landscape for local people, while guest lecturing at universities has raised awareness of the importance of sustainability within society.
The sustainability team at OSI Ukraine has visited two agricultural universities in nearby cities and one local school, to engage with students on the topic of sustainability. The lectures focused on educating students about environmental issues, animal welfare principles and social responsibility, aiming to increase awareness and inspire a new generation that it is possible to implement positive changes for people and the planet.
Closer to the plant, the sustainability team has led a tree-planting project to improve the ecological situation in the local town. The project has included planting trees in the grounds of both the local kindergarten and school, improving green spaces for both people and wildlife.
Furthermore, billboards on how to correctly separate different types of waste have been put up in local public places. The intention of this project is to spread awareness of proper waste separation among residents. Consideration was also given to the barriers to this process. For example, there was a lack of collection points for used batteries in the city, so at the end of 2020 two battery boxes were placed in two local stores. After five weeks, 22.5 kg of batteries had been collected. These improvements are ongoing, with more billboards and disposal points for hazardous wastes due to be placed this year.
Engaging with local education institutions, conservation projects and facilitating safe disposal of waste for local people has initiated positive change which other plants could also look to implement.
The numerous changes at OSI Ukraine have contributed towards propelling the plant towards meeting OSI Europe’s 2025 sustainability goals. With all the changes mentioned being implemented in the last two years, OSI Ukraine has demonstrated to other plants how much can be achieved in a short period of time, simply by focusing on the highest impact areas.