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Photo: Sitra

Published May 15, 2019

Material-efficient distillery

At Altia’s Koskenkorva distillery, the processes implemented in accordance with circular economy principles and a usage rate of nearly 99.9 per cent for the barley used as a raw material have enabled Altia to significantly cut its carbon dioxide emissions from previous levels, to reuse the raw materials left over from processing and to save costs.

Problem

The production of alcohol is energy intensive, because the heat distillation process requires a lot of steam. The production plant must generate its own steam if it is not located in the immediate vicinity of another industrial plant. The alcohol production process often generates different surplus raw materials, such as barley grain husks, that production plants do not use, and they go to waste.

Solution: material-efficient distillery

Altia’s Koskenkorva distillery wastes just 0.1% of the barley it uses as a raw material. The plant produces most of the steam energy it needs in its own bioenergy power plant, which uses barley husk as its main fuel and is generated as a side stream from plant production. As a fuel, barley husk replaces peat.

Altia has found uses for its production side streams: barley starch is sold as a raw material for industry; the feed raw material is sold to A-rehu, which operates in the same region; and husk ashes are given to contract farmers to be used as fertiliser. Even the carbon dioxide generated in the fermentation process is used in greenhouse cultivation.

Altia’s revenue logic and benefits

Before using the barley husk, Altia was dependent on the purchase of fuel: steam was mainly produced from the combustion of peat. The availability and price of peat depend on weather conditions and political decisions, which makes it difficult to use it as fuel. A shift to using barley husk for energy has enhanced the plant’s cost-efficiency and raised its self-sufficiency in terms of fuel to approximately 60%. The transition has also decreased the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions by over 50% since 2014.

Benefits to customers and end users

The more efficient use of materials reduces the environmental footprint caused by alcohol production. Furthermore, Altia gives contract farmers ash fertiliser free of charge.

Facts

Altia in a nutshell

Main business: Production, import and sale of alcoholic beverages

Year of foundation: 1888

Turnover: Over €50 million

Year the circular economy solution was launched: 2014 (bioenergy power plant)

Share of the circular economy solution of the total business: n/a

Employees: more than 250

Based: Helsinki

Website: www.altiagroup.com

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