SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Sustainable development with a long tradition in our company
Protecting natural resources, promoting efficient processing methods and social responsibility are among our key corporate objectives.
For almost 150 years, we have been extracting sugar from sugar beets and have been using it to create new innovative products. It is not only the white sugar we have known for decades, but also specialty sugars for baking, making jams and preserves, preparing sweet fruit liqueurs or sweetening drinks.
We pay a great deal of attention to ensure that all our products are made in line with the principles of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. The quality expectations of our customers, their health and safety, safe working environment for our employees and subcontractors, efficient co-operation with beet growers as well as reducing the impact of our business activity on the natural environment are among the key pre-requisites for our business development.
Being aware of how much we receive from nature, we utilise almost every part of the sugar beet, processing it in nearly 100%
- soil adhering to sugar beet roots is returned to the fields,
- the leaves are used to make biomass to be digested in biogas plants,
- stones recovered during the beet washing process are reused, for example in road building,
- beet pulp obtained in the course of the production process is used as a valuable feed material,
- molasses generated during the crystallisation of sugar is used in animal feeds and in industrial production,
- lime from the juice purification stage is reused as a fertiliser.
Environmental activities at Pfeifer & Langen in Poland are carried out within the framework of a certified environmental management system compliant with the requirements of the ISO 14001:2015 standard. This means that in the course of its business the Company takes into consideration the natural conditions associated, for example, with the climate, air and water quality, land surface usage, the existing pollution, the availability of natural resources and biodiversity, social determinants (including cultural, political, legal) and economic, financial, and technological factors as well as factors connected with competitiveness on the international, national, regional and local levels.
In consideration of the foregoing, the environmental management methodology of our Company is based on the concept of sustainable development. The said concept takes into account the relations between three capitals: economic, social and natural, which should be considered during the decision-making process and optimization concepts. Such an approach leads to environmental effectiveness which strengthens the economic and social effectiveness.
In the pro-environmental activities carried out at our sugar factories in conformity with the concept of sustainable development and the requirements of the ISO 14001:2015 standard the entire product life cycle is taken into consideration (see).
Cultivation, harvesting and delivery of the raw material to sugar factories.
Owing to the close cooperation with research institutes, universities and sugar beet growers’ associations we are able to increase the efficiency of crops without increasing the impact of sugar beet cultivation on the environment. This is achieved, among others, by:
- strip tillage cultivation comprising the use of machines which simultaneously cultivate the field, sow beet seeds and apply the appropriate dose of the fertiliser, which significantly reduces exhaust emission, wind and water erosion and the quantities of artificial fertiliser used, in particular nitrogen fertilizers which contaminate surface and subterranean waters; we have been the first company to implement a system of bonuses for growers delivering raw material with a low content of amino-acid nitrogen;
- implementation of a programme for balancing the content of organic matter in the soil (humus) as well as a system for organising logistics, a system for collecting and analysing soil samples and a system for the provision of information about fungal diseases;
- optimisation of the quantities of plant protection agents by precise calculation of the active dose of a chemical indispensable to control weeds and pests and by fighting pests at the early stage of their development, which is important to maintain biodiversity in the close vicinity of the cultivated fields;
- using GPS systems to optimise the raw material transport from the field to the sugar factory, which contributes to reducing fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
Sugar production process
Beet sugar production technology requires energy, water and auxiliary materials indispensable to make sugar. The most important activities aimed at optimising the processes taking place in our sugar plants and reducing the environmental impact of the Company’s operations include:
- cleaning the raw material in a closed water circuit using recycled water (treated wastewater);
- reclaiming water from sugar beets in the form of condensates, which significantly reduces the consumption of deep well water and generated quantities of wastewater;
- using measures preventing the leakage of petroleum and chemical substances into the soil and subterranean waters;
- erecting new and upgrading the existing industrial wastewater treatment facilities;
- optimising the use of thermal and electrical energy whereby reducing the air emissions of pollutants from fuel combustion processes by:
- utilising multi-stage evaporation stations enabling the optimum use of the generated thermal energy;
- replacing old machinery and equipment with new, more efficient one;
- using inverters enabling optimisation of electricity consumption;
- using renewable sources of energy, i.e. biogas produced from beet pulp – thus reducing the air emissions of pollutants from the fuel combustion process;
- using devices and equipment which help reduce the environmental impact, such as dust filters, cyclone separators, silencers and soundproof housings.
Additionally, we meet 40% of the energy demand of the town of Środa Wielkopolska, consuming approximately 11-16% less coal than a standard municipal heat and power plant.
Sugar packaging, warehousing and sale:
The process of reducing the environmental impact of the aforesaid sugar production stages involves:
- increasing the quantity of bulk sugar sales whenever possible, to reduce packaging waste;
- optimisation of sugar packaging materials in order to reduce packaging weight and, consequently, the quantity of packaging waste;
- erection of new silos and tanks for liquid sugar in order to reduce shipping the product to external warehouses – whereby reducing exhaust emissions from transport and the quantity of waste produced due to sugar repackaging;
- cooperation with organisations engaged in recycling activities, to ensure management of packaging waste in conformity with the law.
Other systemic activities:
- environmental risk assessment for each investment project carried out by the Company in order to reduce the environmental impact of the completed project;
- analysing the environmental, social and economic context in which the Company operates, including the needs and expectations of Company stakeholders, in order to optimise the organisation’s activities and reduce the impact on the natural and social environment;
- setting environmental targets aimed at reducing the environmental impact at source;
- improving the environmental awareness of employees and subcontractors engaged by the Company;
- conducting internal audits, which facilitate improvement of our processes in terms of their environmental impact;
- ongoing monitoring of the key parameters of the Company’s business to enable prompt response to any nonconformities that have occurred, including water consumption, sewage emissions, consumption of fuel, air contamination, waste emissions, consumption of electrical and thermal energy, quantity of raw materials and products, signals received from local residents, growers and customers;
A number of investment projects undertaken by Pfeifer & Langen in Poland to improve energy efficiency have made it possible to reduce the annual consumption of electrical energy by 2,162,160 kWh. Our activities have been appreciated and recognised by the award committee of the Ekoinwestor competition organized by the editorial board of the Agroindustry quarterly magazine under the honorary patronage of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management. The competition serves to emphasise the social responsibility of the food industry in the promotion of technologies that are environmentally friendly and that reduce the negative environmental impact.
Quality starts in the fields of our growers, therefore we keep promoting the ideas of partnership and sustainable farming.
Our growers take advantage of the following solutions:
- mulch sowing, which enables water retention and maintaining soil stability
- strip tillage – owing to the use of machines which simultaneously cultivate the fields, sow beet seeds and fertilise the soil, we are able to reduce exhaust emissions, wind and water erosion, and the quantities of fertilisers used, particularly nitrogen fertilisers, which contaminate surface and subterranean waters
- precise calculation of the required minimum dosage of chemical plant protection agents, which allows maintaining biodiversity in the immediate vicinity of the farmland
We do not leave our growers without technical support: not only do we provide them with seeds but also with the knowledge which is indispensable for efficient farming with the least environmental impact.
Owing to the Agricultural Information Service for Sugar Beet (LIZ) they have access to the most recent scientific and industrial developments and they may receive comprehensive assistance from experts, both on-line and in the field.
Over the last 10 years, we have increased the efficiency and obtained 30% more sugar from the same area.
We are listening to our customers and respond to their suggestions. In an attempt to meet the requirements of the market and to oftentimes create trends we conduct advanced research activities and consumer research on our own and in co-operation with Polish and foreign schools, research units, experts and laboratories.
Our aim is to be as close to the customer as possible, not only as an expert but also as a friend. We run a telephone consumer hotline and interactive social media channels, among others on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIN.
Diamant products are innovative, have modern packaging and they perfectly match the needs of the changing market. The ever growing portfolio of Diamant products has been appreciated by our consumers and awarded in numerous prestigious competitions, including the Favourite Brand of the Poles or the Best Product of the Year rankings. The Electronic Data Exchange system (EDI) ensures top quality customer service, efficient ordering and invoicing processes as well as a significant reduction of the generated packaging waste.
Suppliers who cooperate with us are expected to comply with specific procedures regarding quality, safety and environmental impact. We use certified food safety systems, such as ISO 22000, FSSC, IFS, ISO 14001. We monitor and control production processes on a regular basis, identifying errors and minimising any possible threats.
The systems we have in place encourage to maintaining high technical standard of machines, equipment, buildings, ensuring proper pest control and maintaining hygiene in the workplace. We are aware, however, that for a management system to be effective every employee must understand that through their actions they influence the quality and safety of the foodstuffs produced in our plants.
All these activities, together with many others, make it possible to ensure unchanging top quality of our products.
We believe that employees are the best ambassadors of the Diamant brand. We support our team by offering them:
- possibilities of professional development and career building: training and other forms of skills improvement,
- attractive pay-related and non-pay-related incentive systems,
- private medical care, also available to members of employees’ families: they have access to various specialists, a broad range of diagnostic and laboratory tests, rehabilitation and dental care,
- support to their families: winter and summer camps for children organised by a local travel agency, Christmas gifts, other social benefits, including sightseeing tours, bike trips, canoeing trips or outings to the theatre.
We do not only care about the health and safety of our employees; we also make sure that they are updated on our strategy. We organize regular information meetings of the Management Board with employees, internal meetings for the managerial staff, department conferences as well as integration meetings and picnics. We are building good relations using internal communication via the intranet, newsletters, the internal „Moja Cukrownia” gazette, information boards and printed materials, such as journals, posters or leaflets, as well as by organising creative competitions for employees.
High corporate culture is vital for successful cooperation at every organizational level.
One of our priorities is to be a good, friendly and helpful neighbour. We are listening not only to the needs of farmers, employees and customers but also to those who live in the vicinity of our sugar factories.
In our attempt to be as transparent as possible, we regularly open production factories of the Pfeifer & Langen Group in Poland to visitors. Anybody who is interested to know the way we operate may see it with their own eyes. Guided tours provide information about the past, present and future of the sugar industry. Visitors may receive an overview of the fascinating and complex sugar production process, learn how our classical products, such as the white sugar, are made as well as get to know the innovative Diamant brand product range. Every year, our sugar plants are visited by hundreds of people.
We also take care of the youngest residents of our regions. Employees of all production factories and of the Poznań sales office support children not only financially but also by personally engaging in campaigns targeted at those who are most in need. Solidarity and openness are the foundation for good relations.