First ever meat processer certified on the CO2 Performance Ladder

The Dutch meat processer Vleesbedrijf Bolscher has recently been certified on the CO2 Performance Ladder at level 3. The company is the first in its kind to obtain a certificate on the Ladder. Bolscher notices that consumers are becoming more aware of their eating habits and opt for meat products that are produced and processed in a sustainable manner. The meat products should also adhere to high standards of animal welfare. Bolscher also expects that meat consumption will decline. A certificate on the Ladder therefore serves as a motivation for the company to remain active in CO2 reduction and sustainable processing of meat.

‘Bolscher, more than meat.’ This is how the meat processer positions itself on the market. The organization is specialized in processing and delivering meat products to the food and beverages industry. The meat products of Bolscher are both fresh as well as frozen. Next to the processing of meat products, Bolscher’s product range contains fish and dairy.

Frontrunner in sustainability

At Bolscher the largest amount of carbon emissions is caused by cooling the meat processing installations and delivering the products to its clients. The company therefore seeks solutions that reduces its carbon footprint. For this, Bolscher sought the help of the Dutch consultancy firm Zienergie to map out their opportunities in terms of sustainability. Via the consultation at Zienergie the company found its way to the CO2 Performance Ladder.

“The CO2 Performance Ladder may not directly fit within our sector, but the management system offers us plenty of opportunities to maintain our policies on reducing carbon emissions and sustainability”, says Jurgen Oosterwijk, who within Bolscher is responsible for the implementation of the CO2 Performance Ladder. “Moreover, the Ladder is a tangible tool and motivation for us. Not just to reduce our carbon emissions, but also to adhere to environmental standards. These standards have been set up by the Dutch government and asks companies to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions. With the Ladder, we therefore have the means to structurally reduce CO2 and continuously improve upon sustainability.”

“It is great to see that we are the very first meat processer, or maybe even the very first food producer, that has been certified on the CO2 Performance Ladder. Our main clients do not request a certificate on the Ladder, but when we start to work with wholesalers, then it becomes important for us as a company to be able to show that we are actively reducing our carbon emissions and contributing to a more sustainable future. Sustainability has become a general standard and a matter of fact, therefore we rather position ourselves as a frontrunner than as a laggard.”

Bolscher notices that sustainability has become an important factor for their clients. For meat producers and the meat supply chain, the company sees that it still remains a challenge to contribute to sustainability by reducing carbon emissions. Bolscher therefore sees opportunities to eventually obtain a higher level on the CO2 Performance Ladder. Before the organization stimulates its supply chain to take measures towards sustainability, the meat processer wants to first gain its own experience with the Ladder and focus on reducing its carbon emissions.

Transforming the organizational culture

In order to continuously work on sustainability, Bolscher has set up a group of professionals from within the company that have the ambition to include sustainable practices in the organizational policies. “Organizational transformations can be complicated. Subjects such as sustainability and corporate social responsibility can be perceived by some as vague. These terms will however become less vague, because many organizations will shift their focus towards achieving climate goals. In order for organizations to remain compatible within their business sectors, they must contribute to achieving climate goals by drastically reducing their carbon emissions.”

The meat processer applies a diverse range of measures to reduce its emissions, such as energy efficient cooling systems and the usage of heat coming from these cooling systems to heat the water that is necessary to clean the meat processing installations. Moreover, Bolscher is looking into electric vehicles, clean fuels and heating pumps to reduce the gas consumption in its buildings. The company wants to replace its diesel engine vehicles by electric cars. With these measures to reduce its carbon emissions, the company aims at a total CO2 reduction of 50 percent in 2020 compared to 2015. Bolscher aims to annually reduce its CO2 emissions by 10 percent.

Hybrid meat products

Next to the measures of energy efficiency, Bolscher sees opportunities to expand its product range with so called hybrid meat products. For this, the meat processer developed a product line called ‘Meat Your Veggies’. These products contain 50 percent beef or chicken and 50 percent vegetables coming from residual streams. The vegetables would have been thrown away for their shape or form if not used in the hybrid meat products. “The world population is growing and proteins coming from meat products will not be sufficient to feed the growing population. We are aware of the protein transition that will occur, much like the transition to clean energy that is already occurring. We must change our food pattern from animal based proteins to plant based proteins, for example proteins coming from legumes and nuts. These plant based proteins are less damaging to the environment. As a meat processer, we therefore must contribute towards accelerating the transition towards sustainable proteins”, says Oosterwijk.

“It is quite complicated for a butcher to decide to sell less meat, but we cannot ignore the facts. The meat consumption will become less with the increasing urgency of climate change. A meat producer or processer can therefore never be completely sustainable, but it can become more sustainable. And therein, we see plenty of opportunities for the CO2 Performance Ladder.”