Industrial symbiosis where process residues of food industry are utilised to produce biofuel.
Industrial processes generate different by-products, often in vast amounts. Despite the by-products’ potential to be utilised in other processes, they often end up as waste. The cooperation of energy company St1 and beverage company Hartwall in Lahti, Finland sets an example of successful industrial symbiosis and bio-based circular economy, where by-products of food industry are utilised to produce fuel.
The St1's production plant Etanolix utilises bio-based process residues originating mainly from beverage manufacture of Hartwall. In addition, waste material is transported to St1 from several local industries using grain, such as bakeries, grain mills and breweries. From these by-products St1 produces bioethanol, which is later mixed with petrol to gain bio-based fuel for vehicles. The resulting fuel has 80 % bioethanol concentration.
The waste material originating from Hartwall consists of production’s residue yeast and beverages, which cover 30–40 % of total material needed for bioethanol production. The location of St1 plant right next to the Hartwall’s factory enables transferring yeast through pipes between the two plants.
In Finland fuel distributors are legally bound to replace a certain share of fossil fuels with biofuels, the obligation being 15 % in 2018. This obligation has been an incentive for St1 to develop bio-based fuels.
This industrial symbiosis is related to the good practice “The Grain Cluster – a cooperation model between companies”.
The Etanolix plant in Lahti employs 2 full-time operators and some other employees on hourly basis. Many functions like laboratory and maintenance have been shared between all seven bioethanol plants in Finland.
Evidence of success
The cooperation of St1 and local food industries is a successful example of turning waste into valuable material. The Etanolix plant treats bio-based by-products of nearby industries, and thus reduces the amount of produced waste. The plant has met the quantitative objectives that have been set for it.
The St1’s Etanolix plant in Lahti is able to produce 1 million liters of bioethanol in a year.
Etanolix uses various by-products as its raw material, which challenges the production. On the other side, this has improved the ability to react quickly on changes. Amount and quality of waste material varies temporarily, which has to be considered e.g. when optimising the production and acquiring
Potential for learning or transfer
The industrial symbiosis of St1 and Hartwall, as well as other companies, is a good example of minimising bio-waste and bringing benefits to many actors at the same time. The bioethanol production process of Etanolix is able to exploit various materials. Alcohol and sugars, that beverages contain, together with alcohol from yeast, boost fermentation process. Beverages also decrease the amount of water needed in the process. After separating alcohol from yeast, the left-over yeast is still further used as pig feed.
When pursuing successful utilisation of by-products, it is crucial to secure adequate material acquisition. The legislative framework affects the availability of different materials, and globally the competition of by-products and waste material flows is getting tighter.
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