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Novo Nordisk Sustainability Report: CO2 Down 2%, Waste Up 61%

Novo Nordisk cut its CO2 emissions from energy consumption by two percent in 2011, from 95,000 to 93,000, while increasing sales and production, according to its eighth integrated annual report.

In the report on financial, social and environmental results, the global healthcare company said production-related CO2 emissions were down 56 percent compared to 2004, due to increased energy efficiency in all production facilities globally. The company says it remains on track to achieve its long-term target of an absolute reduction by 2014.

The report said that last year CO2 emissions from transport were 53,000, down from 57,000 tons in 2010, and CO2 emissions from refrigerants were 3,000 tons, down 50 percent from 6,000 tons in 2010. Novo Nordisk said that reduction was due to its continuous focus on eliminating refrigerants with a high global warming potential, and a high focus on maintenance and servicing of cooling systems.

In 2011, sales increased by 9 percent in Danish kroner and by 11 percent measured in local currencies.

Energy consumption declined 2.1 percent in 2011, from 2.23 million GJ in 2010 to 2.19 million GJ, due to “continuous process optimizations and energy management,” the company said. As with most of the environmental metrics, Novo Nordisk’s report did not offer specific examples to illustrate how it brought down energy consumption.

Total waste was up 61 percent to 41,376 tons in 2011, from 25,627 tons in 2010 and 26,362 tons in 2009. This significant increase was solely due to the disposal of a large amount of yeast slurry, the report said. This part of the waste stream fraction was previously used as pig feed, but due to changes in regulatory requirements from 2011, the yeast slurry is now sent to a biogas plant.

This change impacts the quantity of non-hazardous waste recycled, which also increased significantly, from 54 to 70 percent. Excluding the yeast slurry, the amount of waste disposed of in 2011 remained stable compared with 2010, the report said.

Water consumption rose 4.3 percent in 2011, from 2.05 million cubic meters to 2.14 million cubic meters. Novo Nordisk said this increase was relatively small compared with the increase in production, due to continuous process optimizations and water-saving projects at sites with high water consumption.

Water and energy consumption for production decreased in 2011 by 34 percent and 21 percent respectively compared with a 2007 baseline, exceeding the company’s long-term targets of 11 percent reductions in both areas by 2011. Consumption decreases were mainly due to optimizations in insulin bulk production for diabetes care products.

Wastewater output was up five percent to 2.04 million, from 1.9 million in 2010, mostly due to increased water consumption, but chemical oxygen demand in wastewater was down 20 percent to 446 tons, from 555 in 2010. This was due to changes in the wastewater handling at a pilot facility, as well as to general production variance, Novo Nordisk said.

The company had 22 breaches of regulatory limit values in 2011, up from 18 in 2010 and 10 in 2009. This was mainly due to breaches related to pH in wastewater. All breaches were short-term events with no impact on the environment, Novo Nordisk said.

Its use of raw materials and packaging materials rose from 65,000 in 2010 to 71,000 tons in 2011.

The company has framed a new environmental strategy towards 2020 and set interim targets for 2014. Focusing on resource productivity, the new target levels are to keep the annual rate of increase below the projected rate of growth in production.

A chart in the report shows 2012-2014 targets as being under 3.3 percent for energy and under 5.4 percent for water – but it’s unclear whether this is a target across the time period, or year-on-year. The target levels are based on the assumption of a continuation of the current business environment and given the current scope of business activities.

Because a substantial portion of the water used by Novo Nordisk is for fermentation and purification of insulin, finding opportunities to further reduce water consumption is challenging, the company said, but it has more options regarding energy use. The target for constraining growth in energy consumption is therefore lower than the target for constraining growth in water consumption.

Last month Novo Nordisk topped Corporate Knights magazine’s annual Global 100 rankings of leaders in sustainability. In 2011 it won in the “openness and honesty” category in the CR Reporting Awards, and was a runner-up in the “relevance and materiality” category.

Novo Nordisk is part of the International Integrated Report Committee pilot program, and its 2011 reporting includes information reported in reference to the International Integrated Report Framework.

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