Interview with Antoon Panhuijzen

Van Geloven uses tap water only in its plants for quality reasons, both the production of the snacks and for cleaning purposes, for example crates and plant spaces. This assures the company that products are not contaminated. “We have paid attention to water consumption. This is largely determined by circumstances that cannot be influenced. We expect we will not be able to realise any significant savings in the quantities of water used”, says Antoon Panhuijzen, responsible for Van Geloven’s environmental policy.

Van Geloven may not expect to realise any spectacular savings in terms of water consumption, but the company sees an opportunity for making a difference in general cleaning. This is a priority for the 4WIN team. The team is currently defining the optimal cleaning effort, i.e. the desired cleaning result based on minimal amounts of water consumption. By eventually making clear agreements on this, the team assures that this working method becomes the standard. Additionally, we also review if steps such as cleaning and disinfection could possibly be performed as a single step rather than in two separate steps. Furthermore, the team discovered that the bin wash system in Tilburg was set to 8 Bar pressure, which resulted in excessive consumption of hot water. Correct adjustment and daily follow-up allowed us to save 100 m3 of hot water every day.

Water consumption for production of the snacks
The largest quantity of water within Van Geloven is required in the production process of the snacks. For example as an ingredient in the stock that Van Geloven uses to make a smooth ragout for its croquettes, and also water for boiling in various cooking processes. “Consumption in this context is, in principle, related to volume and the mix of products that we produce, but in the cooking process, the temperature of the boiling water vessels also plays a role. If a higher water temperature is required for pasteurisation, more water will evaporate and more must be added”, says the environmental expert.
Also, water is used for the water-cooled condensers for freezer systems. The quantity of water that these condensers require to allow for optimal performance of the freezer system is mainly affected by outdoor temperature and air humidity rates. During a hot summer, water consumption in the freezer installations is higher. During a cold winter, these numbers will be significantly lower. Finally, water is used to wash crates and bins. The crates are used to pack finished products used as semi-finished products by the customer, and the bins are used to cool down the ragout, for example. In the Helmond site, more crates are washed than in the past, which is why water consumption has increased there. Antoon explains: “The plant is using more crates today, as demand for our products as a semi-finished product has increased.”

2011 shows a peak in water consumption. Since that year, the cooking liquid (created when cooking the meat) was no longer used in the croquettes for quality reasons. This cooking liquid was subsequently carried off site as waste water. We thought that was a shame! Meanwhile, we made adjustments, allowing the cooking liquid to be processed in the croquettes again since 2014. This makes for a better flavour too.

Waste water more or less stable
The water that Van Geloven consumes (in particular used for cleaning and as a cooking liquid) and discharged into water purification as waste water has increased in terms of absolute volume since 2009. However, in proportion to production volume it has virtually remained stable (less than 5% difference over the past 5 years). After an initial increase in consumption, a decreasing trend can be discerned in the past few years, going from 2.86 (2012) to 2.84 m3 (2013) waste water per ton of production volume. The pollution units of waste water as reflected in the infographic were determined using the Water Boards’ calculations. In 2014, a renewed water treatment system was installed at the Tilburg site. As a result, the amount of waste water from the VEs fell after the installation and the deposits extracted from the water increased. The water could then go to the fermenter.