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Oat hulls to fuel Fazer's new Xylitol plant

In Finland, confectionary major Oy Karl Fazer Ab (Fazer) has recently announced that it has agreed to construct a biomass-fired -heating facility on Fazer’s factory area in Lahti with municipal energy utility Lahti Energia Oy. Using oats hulls as fuel, the heating facility will produce heat and steam to be utilised by the mill, bakery, and rye crisp production lines as well as the new Xylitol production facility, which will be ready in autumn 2020.

An artist's rendering of Fazer's planned Xylitol plant and biomass heat facility in Lahti, Finland (image courtesy Fazer).

An artist’s rendering of Fazer’s planned Xylitol plant and biomass heat facility in Lahti, Finland (image courtesy Fazer).

The fuel for the new heating facility will be derived from the side streams of the production in the factory area, mainly from the oat hulls which will be leftover following the Xylitol production process.

In March 2019 Fazer stated that it will invest EUR 40 million in Lahti in a production facility producing Xylitol from oat hulls. The investment will strengthen Fazer’s position as a forerunner in value-added grain products.

Fazer is participating actively in the work to curb climate change and is investing in sustainable food production. Fazer’s sustainability approach consists of four ambitious core goals by 2030: 50 percent fewer emissions, 50 percent less food waste, to be 100 percent sustainably sourced and more plant-based.

Reducing emissions is a direct means of reducing the climate impacts of food production, and renewable energy plays an important role in cutting emissions.

Sustainability is a key element of Fazer’s strategy, while the company is transforming into a modern sustainable food company. Food production and consumption have a major impact on the environment, society, and well-being. We see food as a solution. We put the consumers first, and the conscious consumers of today expect companies to actively advance sustainability. A bio-heating facility, which utilises the grain-based bio-mass derived from our own production to produce heat, is an outstanding example of a circular economy, explained Pekka Mäki-Reinikka, Managing Director of Fazer Mills Finland.

New method supports the circular economy

The Xylitol factory, which is being built in Lahti, will be the only production facility in the world producing Xylitol from oat hulls on such a scale and where the raw material is received directly from the company’s own production.

The production of Xylitol utilising a side stream from the oat milling process and new technology is an excellent example of an innovative circular economy solution.

Innovations and continuous development work play essential roles in sustainable food production. Our core goal of achieving 50 percent less emissions supports the circular economy – as does the whole Xylitol factory. We consider it very important to find ways to utilise different side streams as beneficially as possible, said Mäki-Reinikka.

Green technology for Green Capital

The heating facility will be built next to the new Xylitol factory and once ready, it will produce enough heat and industrial steam to serve Fazer’s whole factory area in Lahti. The steam may also be used to cool the premises of the area.

The heating facility is estimated to be ready in autumn 2020, at the same time as the Xylitol factory. In June 2019, Lahti was selected as the European Green Capital for 2021 having received the best scores with regards to the air quality, waste handling, and eco-innovations, among other things.

The new Xylitol factory will create 30 new jobs in Lahti and support the position of Lahti as the leading green city in Finland and in Europe.

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