Greenyard is constantly working to make the food supply chain and its own production more sustainable. Reducing water use is a key component of this aim. The company achieves this by optimising processes and cleverly re-using clean water flows. This is working well — in recent years Greenyard 's water consumption has continued to go down even as production volumes have been growing. Upgrading the Greenyard Prepared cooling tower in Bree will lead to a reduction in water use of over 50 million litres or 5% every year.
In Bree, hygiene regulations and food safety mean that high volumes of water are used to wash, process and pack vegetables in jars or tins for a large number of customers. This investment in sustainability is an important step forward for the Greenyard Prepared division in Bree.
Clever reuse of water
The Greenyard Prepared division focuses consistently on making its production processes more sustainable. Limiting water consumption is an important part of this, and various steps have already been taken in recent years. Modernising and optimising the cooling tower is the latest, and a good example of how to save large quantities of water.
“The final step of processing vegetables is appertisation — heat treatment — and pasteurisation. Vegetables in jars and tins are first heated to 120°C, before being cooled to 40°C. The cooling process uses a lot of water, but because of modifications to the cooling tower, we can now reuse 50 million litres of this water," explains project manager Guido Corstjens.
“A cooling tower is a heat exchanger: water comes into contact with air, causing it to cool," he continues. “This happens in stages, cleverly using the temperature the cooling water is exposed to. We have for some time been reusing the hot water used in the first stage of the cooling process, when the vegetables are cooled from 120°C to 70°C. This water is of a quality suitable for drinking and is therefore ideal for use in the pouring and blanching departments. The water is then cooled to 55°C and repurposed for certain production processes and for cleaning."
Another step forward in water reduction
This year Greenyard Prepared took another step forward. By modifying the cooling tower’s dimensions and installing a more powerful heat exchanger, Greenyard Prepared can also reuse the water cooled to 40°C. “Thanks to this investment, we can put an additional 50 million litres of water to good use every year," says Guido Corstjens. “And that means we no longer have to pump up as much groundwater. It’s a significant step and a long-term sustainability gain for us. Good groundwater management and stewardship are increasingly important issues in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands."
At one with nature and the environment
The team also took nature and the environment into account, as well as local residents, in the vicinity of the plant in Bree when the cooling tower was modernised. For example, Greenyard Prepared opted for low-noise motors and the cooling tower is equipped with anti-pollen filters. “There are trees close to the tower giving off pollen at certain times. Pollen must not end up in the process. We can easily open or close the filters, depending on the conditions," explains Robby Vossen, assistant environmental coordinator. “At Greenyard Prepared we want to let nature take its course as much as we can. We adapt our way of working accordingly. That is also what sustainability means to us."
For more examples of how innovation supports our sustainability efforts, download our sustainability report.