Interview with Antoon Panhuijzen

“We are aware of our major impact on the environment and the responsibility we have to minimise it. Also society, our stakeholders, are increasingly asking us about this”, says Antoon Panhuijzen, responsible for Van Geloven’s environmental policy. Reducing the energy bill (gas and power) is one of the environmental pillars that the organisation is actively and measurably steering on, aiming to reduce its environmental impact.

The Van Geloven plants in Maastricht and Mol in Belgium are ISO 14001 certified. In the Tilburg and Helmond plants, we are working in accordance with the ISO 14001 certification principles, but no official certificate applies. For the time being, this is not the ambition, as this would only be an administrative addition to the current working system.

Major steps within MJA
When the employee association gave us the opportunity to participate, Van Geloven was one of the first to join in the MJA (Long-Term Agreements) in 2001. This relates to energy efficiency in the meat sector within the current National Service for Entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. In 2012, MJA3 became effective and the Tilburg, Helmond and Maastricht sites have participated ever since. The Mol plant does not participate as this is possible for Dutch sites only. The MJA commitment means that the snack producer aims for a 2% energy saving (gas and power) per year per ton of production. “We do what is economically possible to achieve this target”, says Antoon Panhuijzen. “Compared with the 2001 MJA, it is a challenge to realise even more savings within the processes, because we already implemented such major steps in many aspects. This is why we are trying to find option to generate our own sustainable energy, working closely with the relevant government bodies and other parties. For example our suppliers, looking into possible chain-wide collaboration.”

3% savings on gas
In general, Van Geloven uses a relatively high amount of power. Antoon explains the high use of gas first. “We pasteurise all our products. This requires a high level of heat that is mainly based on gas. In the period 2009-2013, we achieved a 3% reduction (in the relevant reference unit, gas per ton of production volume) by pre-heating the water with the residual heat from the gases of the boilers and thermal oil installations. As the gas is mainly used in the boilers and thermal oil boilers to cook and pasteurise the products, there are not many steering options for further improvement at this point.” The fluctuations in use of gas are mainly caused by weather conditions. In 2010, the winter was very cold in January / February and again in December. This is why this year shows a significantly higher consumption. The production volumes also fluctuate. Gas consumption fell by one ton in 2014, which may in part be a consequence of the mild winter.

9% savings on power
The high power consumption can be explained by the number of machines used to manufacture the products. Most snacks are supplied frozen at -18 degrees Celsius. “Cooling down the products from pasteurisation temperature to the delivery temperature requires a lot of power”, says Antoon. Together with frozen storage of raw materials and finished products, this accounts for more than half of the power consumption. “However, in the past five years, we managed to realised a 10% power saving per ton of production volume. This reduction was mainly realised by better control of the freezer systems and installing more frequency controls. These controls ensure that fans do not need be switched to maximum setting. We save a lot of energy by keeping them to a low setting. Antoon compares it to driving. “If you drive a lower rounds per minute, this takes your fuel consumption down significantly.” The saving was achieved in spite of having more machines in the production process, which also need energy.

CO2 reduction
Van Geloven also calculates the CO2 footprint (scopes 1 and 2) based on the gas, power and heating oil used.  Unlike previous years, 2014 showed an increase in CO2 emissions. “This is mainly due to the fact that electricity consumption per ton rose. This was a consequence of more co-packing operations that require extra energy. Here we mean manufacturing at site x and packaging at site y. In addition to this, we have undergone further automation as a result of which human energy has been replaced by electrical energy. For instance, an automatic packing line was installed in Helmond in 2014”, Antoon explains.

Collaboration in the chain
Van Geloven closely collaborates with government bodies and parties within the chain, also to realise gains in terms of sustainability outside the organisation. “One of the examples of such a collaboration is our partnership with a meat supplier.” This enabled us to work with chilled raw materials rather than frozen”, says Antoon. “Another is the partnership with a supplier of a palletiser. We were able to dramatically reduce the wrapping film around pallets, which means using less energy within the chain.”
Van Geloven also reviews new technologies to determine if these could contribute to the sustainability targets. Antoon cheerfully explains: “One of the results is the freezing system in our Helmond plant. It used to be set to time, due to which products were frozen for an unnecessarily long time (in order to avoid risk). Thanks to a temperature sensor we installed in the last product of a batch of frikandel sausages, for example, going into the freezer, we know exactly when the entire series of products is frozen. Then we can switch the system to a lower setting, to simply keep the right temperature stable. This has resulted in a significant reduction of power.”
Relating to power consumption, Van Geloven deliberately chooses to buy only grey power. “Using green power costs extra money that we would rather use to invest in reducing energy consumption.

Different initiatives
“Naturally, we also review other opportunities for using more sustainable energy. The hot water we require is heated as much as possible using heat released from the gases of the boilers and thermal oil installations. We also look into the options of generating some of our energy using solar panels or wind, on a small scale due to permit issues”, says the environmental expert. Furthermore, the option of future use of a fermenter for unpurified gas in the Tilburg plant instead of natural gas for the thermal oil boilers is currently under review. For the Helmond site, we are reviewing an option with the City council to use hydrogen (residual product of a nearby company) as gas for the boiler system. “The chance of success is hard to estimate, but we should have more clarity on this within three years. If we can do this, it would save us over 1,000,000 m3 of natural gas. This means a 20% reduction on the full gas requirements of Van Geloven. That would really be milestone in energy savings.”

Not lagging behind
Antoon Panhuijzen joined the company 33 years ago. He officially came into Van Geloven’s employment after taking over Van Lieshout Snacks in 2002. He explains his passion for this field: “I strive for the very best in everything, and I like change. That fits in with the organisation; it is not our style to lag behind and follow the herd of sheep. I am proud to say we are still managing to outperform the standard, in spite of stricter standards and all the gains we achieved in the past relating to energy savings. My dream scenario? A single plant, energy-neutral and waste-neutral. But of course I realise that this will be a dream for a good while longer.”


The company participates in MJA energy and has already achieved the 2018 targets. The company is highly innovative and energy is one of the main issues within operational management. The company continuously aims for minimising energy consumption. Since 2000, consumption decreased from 450 kWh/ton of product to 220 kWh/ton product.

Source: from the report of the environmental enforcer for Helmond, Paul Werner, 23-05-2013