Hämeenlinnan Osuusmeijeri cooperative dairy
Established in 1926
Operates as a cooperative
Around 135 member-owners
Turnover €69.5 million (in 2014)
Receives an annual total of 117 million liters of milk for packaging and processing (in 2015)
Hämeenlinnan Osuusmeijeri cooperative dairy: From milk to energy
Located close to the centre of Hämeenlinna not far from the splendid scenery of Aulanko Nature Reserve, a lot of energy is needed at the cooperative dairy Hämeenlinnan Osuusmeijeri.
The facility processes and packages more than 100 million liters of milk a year, delivering products such as Arla brand organic milk, cream and buttermilk around Finland. All milk and other dairy products sold in Finland are pasteurized, i.e. heated to at least 72 °C for a minimum of 15 seconds. This requires a lot of heat energy.
Sustainable development and responsibility are important values for this cooperative dairy. This is reflected in the decision made by the dairy factory in 2015 to switch to producing the energy required for the pasteurization of organic milk in its own heating plant using biogas and natural gas.
The next big step towards more ecological dairy production was taken this year when the cooperative dairy entered into a circular economy agreement with Gasum under which biowaste fractions from the dairy factory will be converted into biogas at the new biogas plant in Riihimäki.
Established in 1926, the member-owners comprising 135 dairy farmers are at the core of the operations of Hämeenlinnan Osuusmeijeri. Most of these farms are located in Southwestern Finland.
– Our cooperative dairy aims to support the livelihoods of our members and process and market the milk produced by them, summarizes Risto Koski, Managing Director, Hämeenlinnan Osuusmeijeri.
Circular economy helps cut costs
The idea behind circular economy is to minimize energy loss and recover all energy from production. Production side streams are now utilized at the Riihimäki plant to generate energy for the manufacture of new products.
In practice this means that biowaste fractions such as customer returns and faulty production batches are picked up a few times a week from Hämeenlinnan Osuusmeijeri dairy factory and transported to Gasum’s new Riihimäki biogas plant. The same vehicle will also visit other Gasum partners' facilities to pick up their waste fractions.
At the Riihimäki biogas plant the waste is crushed and sanitised to destroy any pathogens. This is followed by a period of one to three days when the compounds contained in the waste are broken down and hydrolyzed by microbes.
Turning waste into fuel and fertilizers
The actual biogas production takes place in a biogas reactor were microbes living in anaerobic (oxygen-free) conditions begin at a certain temperature to break down the carbon compounds found in the biowaste – producing gas and slurry.
The slurry is used as a fertilizer at farms and in compost production, while the gas is upgraded into a ready-for-use fuel – biogas.
Hämeenlinnan Osuusmeijeri representatives are unreservedly satisfied with the circular economy system.
– Biogas is the lowest-emission form of energy, says Anne Isokangas, Quality and Environmental Manager from Hämeenlinnan Osuusmeijeri, elaborating the reason behind the cooperative dairy joining the circular economy, with Managing Director Risto Koski continuing:
– When counting in the processing of by-products at the biogas plant, this approach generates clear cost savings compared with our previous operating model.
Sustainability sends an effective message
On the other hand, according to Koski it is also about image.
– We believe our customers also appreciate us using bioenergy in our production.
It is important for the cooperative dairy to operate professionally, profitably and sustainably. According to Koski, sustainability means taking the environment into consideration in production:
– With organic products in particular we’re determined to operate ecologically.
Sustainability is also viewed through the ecology aspect at the Riihimäki biorefinery: biogas is an excellent way for enterprises to advance their sustainability.