The sustainable and optimised use of resources is a relevant element of the efforts to improve the Bell Food Group’s environmental record. Measures have been defined to combat waste. The use of resources should be avoided or reduced whenever possible, and the resources that have been used should be recycled or replaced. We also want to increase the share of renewable energies.
The production facilities of Bell Switzerland have concluded an objective agreement for the period from 2012 to 2020 with the Federal Office for the Environment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. We were on track with these objectives in the reporting year, and have even exceeded the agreed objectives in some areas. Our production plants as well as our contract farmers report to the Federal Office for the Environment. Since the last report published by the Federal Office for the Environment, around half of all contract farmers have invested in improving the energy efficiency of their poultry production facilities. Annual CO2 emissions were reduced by more than 660 tonnes by various measures such as the replacement of air-conditioning controls, the insulation of building shells, conversion from propane gas to wood-chip heating systems and the addition of heat recovery systems. At the same time, 2,070 MWh of heating energy was saved. In future, a benchmark comparison will identify the measures that poultry producers can implement to improve energy efficiency and animal welfare. By now, half of all new farms already use a photovoltaic plant to generate their own electricity.
Pinch and similar analyses are carried out at various locations in Switzerland to analyse and optimise the savings and efficiency potential of heat consumers and processes. As a result, we now use process heat in areas where it makes sense to do so, which helps us to reduce our energy consumption. Electricity and heating analyses were carried out in the reporting year at Cheseaux and the slaughterhouse in Basel. Optimisation measures introduced in Zell reduced the consumption of heating oil by 1,000 MWh.
Comparable measures are being implemented internationally. Regular energy check-ups are carried out across the Bell Food Group, processes are analysed, and measures to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption and improve energy efficiency are formulated.
Proper refrigeration and heat recovery are very important for resource efficiency in our production plants. Various measures to optimise the use of waste heat were implemented in Zell, Oensingen and Dällikon in the reporting year. Many tests to identify the main consumers of heat were also carried out. The Schaan site has been using all the process heat generated by the waste incineration plant in Buchs (SG) for several years already. All of the electricity comes from renewable energies.
As the reduction of water consumption is another focal point, we are analysing the consumption of water by the biggest users such as the cooling and cleaning systems at various sites. We are also optimising our crate washing facilities. We are working together with Fraunhofer Gesellschaft to identify further potential for saving water.
The quality of the energy data that are captured plays an important role in identifying the potential for optimisation and the testing of measures for improvement. To this end, a pilot project to improve data quality has been launched in Zell and Suhl where we are testing a new measurement system to automatically capture the data.
In Switzerland, around 450,000 tonnes of packaging material end up as waste every year. The Bell Food Group is committed to reducing this volume. We want to reach this objective with various measures to promote recycling and reduce consumption. Thanks to a standard monitoring concept, we can identify and continuously reduce large volumes of waste. In order to reduce the waste caused by the backing paper for labels, we recycle this paper as material waste. We tested this measure as part of a pilot project in 2015. This practice was expanded to include all relevant Swiss facilities in the following year. It has also been in use in Germany since 2013. We are continuously expanding the project whenever the required volume of label paper is generated. We achieved a recycling target of some 82 percent in the reporting year. We are also reducing the wrapping strength for various products in order to reduce the packaging material. The reduction and substitution measures introduced in Switzerland and Germany in the reporting year resulted in savings on packaging materials of around 260 tonnes.
Since 2013, goods have been transported from the Swiss locations Basel, Oensingen and Cheseaux to Ticino by combined transport, so that transport has shifted from the road to the railways. Bell Germany also implemented a similar project in 2016 for transport between Italy and Germany. Both projects are showing remarkable results. We will start a research project with Fraunhofer Gesell-schaft in 2018 to identify further potential for CO2 savings.
The Bell Food Group's sales revenue improved by CHF 327.6 million to CHF 2.1 billion in the first half of 2018. At 268.3 million kilograms, sales volume is up by 19.9 percent on the prior-year period. EBITDA improved by CHF 6 millio...