CO₂e quantification

What’s your footprint?

When Bühler announced the ambitious targets of reducing waste, water, and energy consumption by 50 percent in its customers’ value chains by 2030 two years ago, one of the first orders of business was to establish a system to measure how much CO₂ is emitted relative to any specific manufacturing activity. This is known as the emission factor, or CO₂e. Today, Bühler’s CO₂e Quantification Program is rapidly gaining traction.


“Industry must become part of the solution,” said Bühler’s CEO Stefan Scheiber at the Networking Days 2019 in front of over 800 decision makers and partners of the global food and mobility industries. Everyone in the room agreed that urgent changes are needed to mitigate the effects of climate change – from farm to fork, and from raw material to final product. Following the fundamental business doctrine, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” a dedicated team got to work to quantify the CO₂e in the value chains of Bühler’s customers, and the company’s own CO₂e footprint.

Now that the framework has been tested and applied in specific businesses, and with Bühler’s customers feeding 2 billion people and moving 1 billion people every day, the potential for profound action to significantly reduce CO₂ emissions across entire industries is seemingly endless.


Industry must become part of the solution.

Stefan Scheiber, CEO Bühler Group

From croissants to electric cars

In his first meeting with Bühler’s CTO Ian Roberts after being tasked with creating a system that measures the CO₂e of all emissions combined, Jay O’Nien, Head of the CO₂e Quantification Program at Bühler, opted for emotionalizing the team’s findings by using the example of a croissant. “It was a good product to start, because there were many CO₂ hotspots at different parts of the value chain, for example aggregated emissions in the raw materials, the CO₂ added in the raw material transformation from wheat to flour, the CO₂ added in the baking step, and even including the disposal of the plastic packaging,” he says. 

While Roberts did indeed enjoy the croissant, he continued to test the methodology by tasking O’Nien and his team to compare the emissions of electric cars and petrol cars. Soon after, the team set the goal of being able to map out and measure CO₂e across Bühler’s key value chains, which cover around 90 percent of the products processed on Bühler technology.


Jay O’Nien, Head of the CO₂e Quantification Program. Jay O’Nien, Head of the CO₂e Quantification Program. Jay O’Nien, Head of the CO₂e Quantification Program.


Bühler wants to ensure that its own activities are in accordance with best practice in quantifying and reducing CO₂e emissions. A dedicated team in Manufacturing, Logistics, and Supply Chain (MLS) is working on sustainability with the target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030 – which means Bühler needs to reduce its emissions related to MLS processes by at least 50 percent and neutralize the remaining emissions with technologies that remove CO₂ from the atmosphere. The team has built a methodology that enables them to quantify emissions and shows that Bühler’s jump-off point in 2019 is 810,000 tons of CO₂e.


Impact on the entire value chain

To ensure a systematic approach across Bühler’s diverse businesses, the team set up three different scopes in its analysis. “In the technology scope, we study how new Bühler technologies and services contribute to our company goals to reduce energy, waste, and water by 50 percent, compared to technology before 2017. For example, when the SWAKT-Eco oven was introduced, it cut gas consumption by 20 percent relative to its predecessor,” says O’Nien. “This really is a step-change in the wafer business and has a significant impact, but to measure consistently against other CO₂ reduction measures, we use CO₂e and measure in the plant and in the entire value chain.” 


One of Bühler’s latest innovations provided the team with detailed insights on the plant level. “Mill E3, for example, reduces CO₂e produced within the mill by 9 percent. This is an important calculation for our customers, who are themselves under pressure to demonstrate to the market that they are taking steps to reduce their own carbon footprint,” he explains. 

The third scope takes into consideration the entire value chain. O’Nien and his team look at one of the major staple foods to highlight the importance of this scope: wheat. “The global average emission factor for wheat production is 700 kilograms of CO₂e for every metric ton. Findings like these enable us to break these emissions down into geographical regions and determine where we can have the biggest impact together with our customers.” O’Nien highlights that a holistic view is crucial in creating meaningful impact. “It’s important to consider that CO₂ is just one aspect of sustainability and that other criteria such as land use or social sustainability are also part of the story. We developed the CO₂e quantification method with an external partner, the sustainability consultancy Quantis.” Bühler will also continue to work with external partners to ensure that all aspects of sustainability are considered.

It’s important to consider that CO₂ is just one aspect of sustainability and that other criteria such as land use or social sustainability are also part of the story.

Jay O'Nien, Head of the CO₂e Quantification Program at Bühler

Making customers’ lives easier

As with every new solution or service that Bühler introduces, the deciding factor is how customers react to it. “Our customers and partners have long realized that we need to significantly increase the level of collaboration and innovation across industries to reduce our carbon footprint. When we introduce our CO₂e Quantification Program to them, their eyes light up because they’re all burning to take action but sometimes lack a system or the expertise to provide them with an analysis of their emissions,” says Roberts. 

A look at the die-casting industry shows the importance of cutting CO₂e. “When the German car manufacturer Daimler announced their plans to become carbon neutral by 2039, it immediately translated down the many supply chains in the car industry, including our die-casting customers. They didn’t have a systematic measuring system in place to quantify emissions, and welcomed our input,” says O’Nien. With three CO₂e quantifications being certified according to ISO standard 14067, Bühler can talk to customers with confidence, and customers can be assured that they are compliant ith international standards and can focus on serving their own customers. While measuring its CO₂e provides customers with the foundation to take action, Bühler started to quantify the avoided CO₂ emissions in January 2021. 


Jay O'Nien with team members. Jay O'Nien with team members. Jay O'Nien with team members.


“This is the amount of CO₂ emissions that is not being pumped into the atmosphere because of new Bühler technologies and services that efficiently process our customers’ products. This metric highlights the importance of retrofit technologies on existing processes and shows that retrofits are one of the fastest ways to cut emissions,” Roberts explains. “Avoiding emissions is the first priority in the emission’s hierarchy. The next is the need to reduce CO₂ through efficient processing. Lastly, there is the need to draw down existing emissions from the atmosphere, together with companies such as Climeworks or Ecosystem Regeneration Projects from the Crowther Lab.” 

With a proven and certified service in place, huge demand from customers and ever-increasing political and societal pressure, Bühler’s CO₂e Quantification Program is set for continued growth across industries. “Our main goal now is to connect our service to our digital platform Bühler Insights, and provide our customers with real-time analysis of their data,” says O’Nien. Bühler’s Networking Days 2022 in June will provide his team with the unique opportunity to get more customers on board and continue walking the talk that CEO Stefan Scheiber meant with his call-to-action on that summer day in 2019: “Industry must become part of the solution.”

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