The length of the campaign has been increased gradually in the plants to raise productivity. A campaign now lasts for an average of more than 120 days in some areas. This means that the production phase generally continues into January. Longer campaigns entail two risks. One is that the onset of winter weather can severely hamper beet harvesting, logistics and processing. The other is that longer campaigns make production downtime more likely.
Nordzucker has therefore taken wide-ranging precautions both in the field and in the plant to minimise these risks. They include covering beet clamps with a sheet of fleece to protect the beet from frost. New production processes help us to deal better with extreme changes in weather conditions and beet which has begun to thaw or decompose. One example is the optimisation of juice purification, which is vital for processing even frost-damaged beet.
Longer campaigns increase the risk of production downtime. In some regions the beet flows can be diverted to alternative sites, but this also leads to longer campaigns at those plants and much greater logistical expense. Risk-oriented maintenance has been introduced to reduce the risk of production downtime. All the essential machinery in a plant is examined closely and repaired or replaced as necessary in the phase between two campaigns. Nordzucker has also taken out production downtime insurance to reduce its exposure further.
Environmental impacts cannot be avoided altogether when sugar is produced.
They include airborne emissions (odours, noise), waste disposal and wastewater treatment. Risks arise from the potential for exceeding limits, complaints from neighbours or new statutory regulations.
Nordzucker gives high priority to limiting detrimental environmental effects as far as possible. Investments to avoid noise and odours are an important part of capital expenditure every year. In recent years, for example, one key focus has been on improving wastewater treatment in order to minimise unpleasant odours. All Nordzucker plants are audited regularly in accordance with applicable national and international legislation and standards to verify the results of these activities. This includes certification in line with the DIN EN ISO 14001 environmental management system and the EU Environmental Audit regulation (EC) 1221/2009 (EMAS III). Nordzucker not only submits to the statutory inspections, but also carries out additional voluntary audits.
An active dialogue with local residents is a matter of course for Nordzucker. Direct contact with neighbours enables plant managers to improve their understanding of how residents are affected and to explain processes at the plant.
As a food producer, Nordzucker is responsible for the quality and safety of its products. The company works consistently to keep improving its already very high safety standards by means of continuous improvements to production processes, targeted investments and strict internal guidelines. Regular inspections and product safety certifications are carried out to identify risks at an early stage. All sites comply with DIN EN ISO 9001 and the DIN EN ISO 22000 product safety standards in conjunction with PAS 220 (FSSC 22000).
As a result of different local requirements, some sites are also certified under the following standards and norms: occupational health and safety management system OHSAS 18001, energy management system DIN EN ISO 50001, German biofuels sustainability by-law (Biokraft-NachV – the transposition of Directive 2009/28/EC to promote the use of energy from renewable sources), IFS standards (International Food Standard for food retailing) and the GMP B2 standard for quality control in raw materials for animal feed. Organic and fair trade products are grown and inspected in line with the applicable legislation and standards.