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Every step to reduce carbon emissions counts – and we are taking a giant one in Rustenburg.

As the climate crisis continues and natural disasters become more frequent due to global warming, the United Nations warned last week that not enough is being done to stop the world becoming an “uninhabitable hell” for millions of people. To keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, we will need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 7.2% every year over the next 10 years.

But before you imagine yourself switching off your Eskom-powered lights for 7.2 hours out of every 100 or walking to work once or twice a month, consider the change that is becoming possible by utilising alternative energy sources that don’t produce greenhouse gases. At home that could mean using alternative energy sources like solar or even using a DO MORE FOUNDATION Wonder Bag for low-energy slow cooking, which can significantly reduce fossil fuel-based energy use.  

At RCL FOODS, we are on a journey to become electricity self-sufficient by generating our own power from solar, bagasse (a by-product of sugar production) and waste from our chicken operations in Worcester and now also Rustenburg.

By the end of June we were 26% electricity self-sufficient. Less than four months later, our renewable energy generation has already increased by over 2.6 megawatts (MW) as we ramp up to full output at our new waste-to-value (W2V) plant in Rustenburg. Once fully commissioned, the plant will provide 5 MW of renewable electricity – enough to power about 3 240 average homes – and make us nearly 50% self-sufficient.

The W2V plant works by creating biogas from a combination of waste water sludge from our chicken plant and chicken litter from our chicken farms. The biogas powers a generator which produces electricity, hot water and steam. The electricity produced will provide 65% of the power needs of our Rustenburg Chicken and Animal Feed site, plus 100% of the steam requirements of the Animal Feed Mill.

The beauty of the system is that nothing at all goes to waste. The remaining waste water from the chicken plant is further treated through reverse osmosis and will be clean enough to be used for non-food-contact operations like truck washing, toilet flushing and irrigation. Meanwhile, the remaining solid by-products can be used as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous-rich fertiliser. Talk about giving waste new value by keeping it in the circular economy!

“Last year we managed to decrease our carbon footprint by 3%, mainly through lower coal usage in our Chicken operations. Our W2V plants at Worcester and Rustenburg are providing us with new innovative ways of decreasing our carbon footprint and taking a step closer to reaching our goal of being MORE electricity self-sufficient,” says Ettienne Thiebaut, our Group Sustainability Executive.  

Here’s to doing MORE to save the environment and improve our business at the same time!