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Sustainable energy from potato chips to heat up houses in Belgium

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Woman cutting potatoes in the kitchen
The initiative is part of an innovative project that repurposes heat from PepsiCo’s snack plant and transforms it into sustainable energy | Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

When Laurens Vandecasteele was looking for a new home in 2020, the Suikerpark neighborhood in Veurne, Belgium, topped his list. He was drawn to its modern architecture, lush community gardens, and winding bike paths. Plus, the parklike space was just five minutes from the PepsiCo snack foods plant in Veurne, where Vandecasteele works as Frontline Manager.

“The houses are on the site of a former sugar factory where my father worked for almost 42 years,” Vandecasteele says. “I like the connection to my past.”

Vandecasteele’s new home also has a tie to his present — Lay’s potato chips will soon be the source of its heat. “It’s nice to know that your own company has created a solution that can heat your home,” he says.

Suikerpark is part of an innovative project that repurposes heat from PepsiCo’s snack plant and transforms it into sustainable energy. The Veurne site cooks up to 20 tons of potatoes an hour, releasing heat vapor as a by-product. When real estate developer Ion wanted to find inventive environmental solutions for Suikerpark, PepsiCo proposed an idea: What if some of the heat released during the process of making chips could be put to use? With the help of partners Noven, who designed the technology, and Fluvius, the area’s utility grid operator, PepsiCo is making it happen.

“Using a condenser, we capture the vapor from cooking and heat a water circuit from 50°C up to 80°C,” – explains Frank De Clercq, Maintenance and Sustainability Manager at the Veurne snacks plant. From there, the heated water will be transported to the houses at Suikerpark, where it will flow through the central heating system into radiators and hot water taps. The first homes will be warmed with the technology in 2022. Once it’s complete, the project will heat a total of 500 houses using clean, sustainable energy.

PepsiCo has set targets to cut carbon emissions by more than 40% by 2030 (against a 2015 baseline) and achieve net zero emissions by 2040. The company has undertaken several ambitious projects to reach this goal; the Veurne project is yet another step. “The heat generated at the Veurne plant helps reach net zero emissions and replaces heat that would normally be sourced by burning natural gas,” De Clercq explains.

And, if the mayor of Veurne has his way, Suikerpark is just the beginning, “This heat network on the scale of a neighbourhood is unique and Suikerpark is the opportunity of a lifetime. This is a great project to introduce new concepts that can be brought to the rest of Veurne” says Peter Roose. As the technology develops, there is potential to expand the system to the local hospital and other public buildings in the future. The Veurne plant could potentially heat more than 2,000 homes.

EuroNewsweek is a dynamic news platform featuring lifestyle, sustainability, successful stories, tech, leadership, creative marketing, business, and the unstoppable people behind them.

Sustainability

Hugo Boss to launch its own premium resale platform

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Production line at Hugo Boss Germany
Conscious shopping: purchasing second-hand items saves an average of 44% of CO2 emissions when compared to buying new

German luxury fashion house Hugo Boss is set to invite customers to buy pre-owned items as they would new, with the launch of a premium resale platform in the third quarter of 2022. The initiative will offer a curated assortment of clothing that has been traded in by existing customers.

An online process will allow customers to return used items to Hugo Boss in exchange for credit that can be spent online, on new or pre-owned items, or in store. Once fully quality checked, the pre-owned products will become part of a curated second-hand assortment for sale on Hugo Boss Pre-Loved. The service will initially feature clothing, with accessories planned to be added in the future.

The resale service will be operated by Faume, a premium provider offering a convenient and seamless online trade-in experience, and will be accessible through the hugoboss.com online store.
Globally, resale is a fast-growing market that reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry, and already represents a market volume of USD 30-40 billion worldwide. Buying second-hand saves an average of 44% of CO2 emissions when compared to buying new, while the circular nature of the resale business helps to reduce clothing waste.

The brand is also set to launch another initiative, later this year, to extend the lifecycle of its products, with Hugo Boss introducing a care and repair service in selected German stores. The service will cover the repair of suits, jeans, shoes, jersey products, and leather goods. The new initiatives move the company, founded in 1924, closer towards its sustainability ambitions, which include the goal that eight out of ten products are circular by 2030.

Heiko Schäfer, Chief Operating Officer at Hugo Boss

“Our entry into the growing resale market is a natural step for us as a company,” – Heiko Schäfer, Chief Operating Officer at Hugo Boss

“Hugo Boss Pre-Loved will support our move towards a circular business model, while our repair service will allow customers to wear their favourite pieces for even longer and reduce consumption of scarce resources.” – says Heiko Schäfer, Chief Operating Officer at Hugo Boss.

Hugo Boss Pre-Loved will be launched in France, with the platform planned to expand to Germany, the UK, and the U.S. in 2025.

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Sustainability

Three renewable heat sources to consider for use in your home

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A woman enjoyr home time with her small write dog
The UK government aims to cut emissions by 78% by 2035, compared with 1990 levels, and to hit net-zero by 2050. | Photo: Roberto Nickson

Renewable sources of energy are the only way forward if we want to try and minimise the damage that we’re doing to the environment. Whilst there are plenty of things causing global warming, our choices for home heating is one of the contributing factors that we perhaps can personally take control over.

Whilst of course the ability to do this will be affected by budget, some are cheaper than others, and the UK government does offer grants and loans. This is because we need to make the switch to renewable energy if we’re going to stand a chance at hitting net-zero, considering heating accounts for the largest amount of CO2 emissions  for an average UK household.

But which renewable heat source is right for you? We take a look at three of the top options.

Heat pumps

If you think of a heat pump, you might be imagining an unsightly, large box that will ruin the overall aesthetics of your garden. However, there are many companies now working on making smaller, sleeker pumps that just sit down the side of your home.

There are a few different types of heat pumps, but they basically work by using pressure and temperature. Heat flows naturally from a warm place to a cool place, but we need the opposite to be true for a heat pump so that the home is heated rather than cooled. Heat pumps use compression and expansion to control this temperature flow.

Heat pumps produce more heat than the amount of electricity they use, so they’re highly efficient. When you choose a heat pump, you should also get a performance certificate that is tailored to your home. This will show you how efficient you can expect it to be based on average outside temperatures and your radiators or underfloor heating.

Solar water heating

Solar power is on the rise, with the UK generating 14 gigawatts per year. One gigawatt can power 750,000 homes, so that’s quite a significant amount. Solar water heating works by harnessing the solar power collected from home solar tubes or flat plate collectors, and then using this energy to heat a tank of water.

This will usually be combined with a boiler or immersion heater, as the amount of sun varies throughout the year, so it’s unlikely that you’ll get enough sun to warm the water year-round. This hot water is used for washing and the water that comes out of your taps, rather than central heating.

Biomass

Perhaps the most similar to a traditional gas boiler, a biomass heating system has a crucial difference – it uses sustainably-sourced wood pellets or logs to fuel it. Whilst it might not feel sustainable to be burning trees, as doing so actually releases carbon dioxide, it’s still considered to be a sustainable source. This is because trees are planted in place of the ones that have been used for fuel for biomass.

Your choice of fuel will depend on what you want to heat, and how much attention you want to pay to your stove. Log-burning stoves look great, and can make use of any logs you have from trees locally. However, they require topping up by hand, and you need to store the logs. On the other hand, wood pellets can be topped up with an automatic dispensing system. If cost is a crucial factor, logs tend to be cheaper than pellets.

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Sustainability

Fashion brand Mango brings forward its sustainable targets

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Male model showcase a Mango outfit on the streets of London
In 2021 the number of sustainable garments accounted for 80% of the total Mango’s collection

Spanish fashion retailer Mango is bringing forward its sustainability targets after achieving that 80% of all the garments it sells now bear the Committed label. In just one year, the fashion brand almost doubled the percentage of sustainable garments in its total production.

The company, founded in 1972 and one of the leading groups in the European fashion industry, has reviewed the targets set in early 2020 as part of its sustainability strategic plan and has decided to bring them forward. The brand forecasts that 100% of the polyester used will be recycled by 2025, doubling the initial target set for said year. Mango also plans that by 2025, 100% of cellulose fibres used will be of controlled origin and traceable, bringing forward its original commitment by five years. In addition, the company is maintaining its goal that 100% of the cotton used will be of sustainable origin by 2025.

“Aware of the environmental impact of our product, and in line with our goals and international commitments, we work garment-by-garment, promoting the use of fibres with a lower environmental impact in our collection. Bringing forward the sustainable fibre targets allows us to move towards a more sustainable fashion future” – explains Toni Ruiz, Mango’s Chief Executive Officer.

In 2021 Mango achieved a 91% use of sustainable cotton and a 59% use of cellulose fibres of controlled origin. 54% of the polyester used was recycled, achieving the initial target four years ahead of time.

Mango makes its commitment to sustainable fashion visible through the Committed label, which includes all Mango garments with a lower environmental impact. In recent years, the company has increased the number of sustainable garments, which in 2021 accounted for 80% of the total collection, well above the 45% figure for 2020. And committed garments are all those which contain at least 30% of more sustainable fibres (such as organic and recycled cotton, recycled wool, and recycled polyester, among others) and/or have been manufactured using more sustainable production processes.

The company’s goal is that all of its garments will be Committed by 2022.

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