Use of raw materials crucial to the climate

Specialty feed manufacturer BEWITAL agri launches environmental project to identify the ecological footprint

Sustainability and ecological footprint are focused on companies. The impact of feed production on this is an input to the determination of the input of the feed. Logistics and production are not drivers, as first results show.

Eco-balance criteria are increasingly focused on national and international agricultural policy. Thus, the Federal Government’s climate programme requires concrete CO2 reductions to be examined on a six-year basis for implementation. This also applies to companies in the feed segment. Because the share of livestock farming in total greenhouse gas emissions is estimated at 18% worldwide and 10% in the EU-27. The climate is particularly affected by the methane emissions of ruminants. Feeding and feed used have a decisive impact on the efficiency and environmental impact of the production of animal food. Also the specialty feed manufacturer BEWITAL agri has decided to pay more attention to the environmental footprint of its products and to determine the contribution of its own feed more precisely. The Kölner consultant Elfin Consulting has made first footprint calculations for selected finished products.

Hardly effects from truck freight

For example, the use of milk substitute feed for calves shows that primarily the raw materials used are relevant to the climatic relevance of the final product. CO2 effects from the manufacturing process in the feed and lorry freight are lower than expected. It was also clear that although commodity exchange could well bring about reduced CO2 values, other categories of impact such as soil retention or respirable dust emissions would deteriorate. To put sustainability efforts unilaterally towards improving climate change, therefore, does not always lead to a more sustainable outcome and directly.

The methodological and content basis for BEWITAL agri and the consultancy service provider Elfin Consulting is the PEF (Product Environmental Footprint) project of the EU Commission for the calculation of ecological footprints. The identification of environmental footprints is provided with a scientific database. This allows for standardised calculations of environmental impact, the value being based on the finished product. The feed sector is one of the pilot areas of the PEF project. The Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI) has taken up the PEF classification and continuously expands the data base for feed raw materials. On this basis, the sustainability effects on compound feedingstuffs purchased and produced are compound feedingstuffs more comprehensible and more accurate. In a second phase of project, BEWITAL agri and Elfin Consulting will carry out further simulations.

Secure a competitive advantage

In this way, BEWITAL agri aims to obtain indications of an optimal feed composition, which is not only oriented towards the health and performance of the animals and the recipe costs, but also takes into account environmental impacts, in particular the reduction of greenhouse gases in the production chain. In the future, these findings will be more firmly anchored in BEWITAL agri’s corporate and product strategy. Michael Hovenjürgen, Head of R&D at BEWITAL agri: “We have always placed a lot of emphasis on environmentally friendly and sustainable animal husbandry when designing our products. Considering the environmental footprint of our products is therefore the logical continuation of our efforts to protect the environment and sustainability in the food chain.”

Marius Fahrenholz, managing director of Elfin Consulting, is supporting the project together with consultant Dietrich Schwier, emphasises the strategic importance of the approach: “In other areas of the food chain, we have already seen that sustainability requirements from downstream customers to animal husbandry and the Feed production is gaining in importance. To be prepared for this is important. “Having clarity about the footprints of your own products also helps to use the principle of action sustainability for your own competitive advantage.

Elfin Consulting

Elfin Consulting is a consulting service provider from Cologne with more than 25 employees and focuses on reducing the ecological footprint and sustainability communication in the precursors of agricultural value chains. Marius Fahrenholz is managing director of the consulting department. Dietrich Schwier is a senior expert and supervises consulting projects in the agricultural sector.

Published in agrarzeitung | Issue 33 of 14. August