Sustainability and CO2 strategy at BITO
Markus Ohl, a graduate civil engineer, is in charge of both property and construction management as well as energy procurement and management at BITO-Lagertechnik Bittmann GmbH. Saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions have become a prime concern for companies in recent years. As an expert in this field, Markus Ohl has been appointed BITO’s spokesperson for this topic.
Mr Ohl, BITO is an industrial company that manufactures durables from raw materials. What are the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions?
– After BITO had switched to green electricity, most of our emissions do no longer fall under the Scope 2 category, i.e. indirect emissions from electricity purchases. Today, the largest source of emissions is our powder coating facility, i.e. they are Scope 1 or direct emissions.
How can manufacturers reduce their CO2 emissions and thus actively minimise their environmental impact? What measures should be taken to achieve this goal?
– BITO is a globally active, traditional, innovative, medium-sized, family-owned company with strong ties to its region which is why we have always focused on environmental protection and sustainability. We have been investing in the energy-efficient modernisation of our power and plant technology for many years. Of course, this allows us to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint.
– Additionally, we are currently building two large photovoltaic (PV) units to secure our own electricity supply. These units generate around 800,000kWh/a. A faster switch to "green" steel would be desirable. At the moment, greenhouse gas emissions from steel production are at such a high level that the CO2 savings in our plants are still relatively low despite great efforts. Another possible way to reduce the emissions caused by the steel sector is to use hydrogen-based solutions instead of coal for the blast furnace. This would reduce emissions in the industrial sector by about 40%. However, this type of technology is still in development. Unfortunately, it will take some years to play out. But once this technology can be used, it will be a real benefit for the world climate.
What has BITO already done to reduce its carbon footprint?
– As early as 2013, we were one of the first companies to start converting our traditional lighting to LED. After this measure was completed, our electricity consumption had dropped by 60%. We have replaced the air compressors in our plants and are now using the latest technology in this field. In addition, all pumps in our cold water systems needed for injection moulding and the pumps in our heating circuits have been modernised in order to save energy in this field as well. Furthermore, we have been constantly upgrading our injection moulding machinery in the past years. Today, we work on ECO-Drive systems which reduce our energy consumption per kg of plastic between 12-20%, depending on the size of the machine.
What other measures are you planning? Does BITO envisage any other CO2 reduction targets?
– Of course, by continuously increasing energy efficiency, we are also cutting down CO2 emissions. We are also planning to invest in a new powder coating facility to replace the existing installation we have been using for many years. This will enable us to reduce energy consumption in this field by about 40%. A daylight-dependent lighting control system would also bring about huge potential savings; we are currently considering how such a control system can be implemented in our buildings.
– We also want to offer our customers the option of paying an additional compensation fee for the emissions that occur not as a result of the operational activity in our plants, but through transport or during the production of steel or plastic raw materials. We will pay these contributions into a climate protection project fund and the customer will receive a certificate stating that the purchased product has been made 100% climate neutral. We are cooperating with carbon offset providers such as GOLDSTANDARD or myclimate with the aim of neutralising Scope 3 emissions. In general, it can be noticed that the trend towards climate-neutral products is also becoming stronger on the customer side.
How much CO2 has BITO already saved?
– This question is difficult to answer. We do not only manufacture serial products, but also offer individual customer solutions. This means that there are significant fluctuations in our product portfolio which makes any comparison between energy consumption figures of recent years difficult. It is a fact that our carbon dioxide emissions dropped by a total of 16% compared to 2018. This corresponds to a reduction of approximately 30,000 tonnes of CO2, without taking into account the switch to green energy. Of course, we should mention that this result is somewhat distorted by the effects of the Corona pandemic. The mere fact that people work in their home offices and save energy by not commuting to work has reduced emissions by 25%. Such impacts are also included in the overall CO2 balance of a company. For this reason, 2020 figures and 2018 results can no longer be compared.
– Basically, switching to green energy already saves about 2,800 tonnes of CO2. Our goal is to have a new carbon footprint established every year in order to precisely track which emissions are changing and in which area.
What is the difference between "CO2 free production" and "climate-neutral production"?
– As much as we would wish, reaching net zero will be virtually impossible with the currently available technologies.The concept of climate neutrality, on the other hand, means that the CO2 emissions of a business unit are established in line with common standards and, in a second step, compensated by investing in a certified climate protection project for those areas where a reduction is not easily possible.
There are various kinds of a certificates. Has BITO already been certified?
– In September 2021, BITO-Lagertechnik was certified climate-neutral for the first time by the German Technical Inspection Association TÜV Rheinland. Prior to this award, we already received the TÜV certification "Corporate Carbon Footprint" which records all greenhouse gas emissions of our business operations in one year. BITO was also awarded the “Ökostromzertifikat“, a green certificate. This certificate and corresponding documentary evidence confirm that the amount of electricity required for our operations corresponds to the amount we fed into the grid. To ensure that electricity from renewable energies is not sold more than once, the German Federal Environment Agency monitors the Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin scheme. BITO only uses green electricity from sources that have been awarded the leading seal of quality issued by the TÜV Rheinland.
Mr Ohl, what do the terms Scope 1, Scope 2, Scope 3 mean?
– Along the value chain, emissions are divided into 3 categories according to the "Green House Gas Protocol": Scope 1 emissions are direct greenhouse emissions. At BITO, this includes emissions from the heating systems and the powder coating facilities. Emissions in Scope 2 cover the indirect emissions. These are the emissions from purchased energy sources. Scope 3 covers the emissions of the activities preceding and succeeding our manufacturing operations. At BITO, these are the emissions caused by steel and plastic granulate production. Emissions caused by shipping our products to the customers also fall into this category.
– The production of steel accounts for 82% of our carbon footprint. Therefore, as already mentioned, a sustainable change in the blast furnace process would lead to a drastic improvement of our carbon footprint. Of course, the same applies to all steel processing companies.
Greenwashing is a hot topic. Is what we are doing just window dressing?
– The topic of "climate neutrality" is on everyone's lips. Many companies advertise their commitment to climate protection. But no one is yet in a position to operate completely CO2 free, because not all the prerequisites have been created yet. We are all just at the beginning of a long journey. Europe wants to be the first climate-neutral continent under the Paris Agreement. But the necessary technological revolution has not yet happened. Until that time has come, investments in climate protection projects can have a positive impact on the climate and the people in the regions concerned. Currently, this is the best possible way. By investing in a climate protection project, companies can support the UN goals for sustainable development in developing and threshold countries.
– The criterion of additionality is very important in this context, i.e. a climate protection project cannot be realised without the money from the compensation certificates. Ecology, economy and social responsibility will have to go much more hand in hand in the future...