The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner
Within the graphics industry there are numerous examples of companies’ efforts to improve energy generation and management. And there is ISO 50001, the standard for energy management to which companies such as Agfa and Kodak have certified compliance. But Fujifilm has gone far beyond these efforts at its Tilburg facility entirely powered with renewable energy generated by wind turbines. Employing around 850 people this site is one of Fujifilm’s largest manufacturing sites outside of Japan, producing photo paper, offset plates and membranes.
Fujifilm’s ambitious transition to convert to 100% renewable energy started in 2011, when the company added a third production line for producing low chemistry and processless plates at the Tilburg site. Eneco, a Dutch energy provider in the region and working in partnership with Fujifilm, started supplying the company with energy generated by five wind turbines. These wind turbines provided 20% of Fujifilm’s requirements. At around the same time, Fujifilm installed a balanced Co-generative Thermal Oxidiser (CTO) to incinerate waste solvent and in the process to generate additional electricity. The CTO’s energy helped to drive the plate production lines, supplementing the wind power generated on site and reducing Fujifilm’s emissions by 5,500 tonnes per year. But there was still more that could be done to move over entirely to renewables.
Today Fujifilm buys the entire output of the local Eneco wind turbines, so its plate production plant is completely wind powered. The turbines, located at the Fujifilm site as well as locations nearby in the Netherlands and Belgium, generate 100 gigiwatt hours of energy per year. This is enough to power the entire site, equivalent to 30,000 households, and the two companies are now looking at ways of producing biomass steam at the plant. The biomass steam will be a more sustainable replacement for the gas which currently fuels the Tilburg factory’s heating. Fujifilm and Eneco are also looking at other potential cooperations in the Brabant region.
Controversies or doubts over the viability of renewable energy and its value, distract us from the urgency of moving to alternative models. Renewable energy sources are the way forward and their use should be encouraged in partnership with industry. The more we can all do to develop creative ideas for energy generation and supply the better.
Investment into energy partnerships makes considerable sense for manufacturers in high energy sectors such as printing. Partnership provides the means of supporting business and employees at a local level, with projects often linked to local efforts to improve environmental footprints and energy infrastructures. Partnerships don’t necessarily make investments future proof, but they can make a substantial difference. Energy partnerships particularly help companies to strike the right balance between economic feasibility and sustainable business practises, and the long term interests of the planet.
The Verdigris project is an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. It provides a weekly commentary to help printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Epson, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Splash PR, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.