Carbon footprint calculation provides information on the environmental effects of Orion’s waste management

The carbon footprint calculation of waste will help Orion evaluate the environmental effects outside its own operation. With lifecycle assessment, the company can target its environmental practices in the best way as a whole.

One strategic target at Orion is to continuously improve its performance in sustainability. Comprehensive sustainability assessment particularly emphasises environmental responsibility. As regards environmental responsibility, Orion monitors the entire lifecycle of its operation and products.

But now Orion has also tackled the emissions outside its own operation more effectively than before. This is conducted with the carbon footprint calculation for waste, which is part of a pilot project that Fortum suggested to Orion for its waste in 2019. Fortum Waste Solutions is Orion’s main partner in waste management.

Targeting environmental practices with new information

Orion seized the opportunity to participate in the pilot project right away.

“We also want to increase our understanding of the environmental effects of our operation outside our own activities. In a drug’s lifecycle, the greenhouse gas emissions outside our own operation are an important issue,” says Orion’s EHS Specialist Otto Järvinen. EHS is short for Environment, Health and Safety Management.

In Fortum’s pilot project, the carbon footprint calculation was further defined in cooperation in order to make it as accurate and illustrative as possible. With this calculation, Orion can assess which waste components have the biggest environmental effects, and why.

“Waste management can have a big impact in the overall emissions – even bigger than logistics.  This data will provide us with a more accurate picture of a drug’s lifecycle. Pharmaceutical products can vary a lot in this regard,” Järvinen says.

“We’ll use this data to select projects aiming at the reduction of hazardous waste. In other words, the data helps us target our measures more accurately than before. Minimising hazardous waste is one of Orion’s environmental goals.”

Environmental effects cannot be considered from one perspective only

Fortum’s emissions report will provide data such as material flows going into recycling and recovery and their impact on the reduction of overall emissions.

“The data will help us identify development targets,” Järvinen says.

Overall operation and lifecycle analysis is crucial in the reduction of environmental effects. It helps us understand the intertwined effects of various factors.

“We have to see the whole. You cannot consider environmental effects only from one perspective or area of operation. It can easily happen that when we improve one area of operation, we end up transferring the environmental effects to another. For example, reducing the volume of hazardous waste may lead to increased energy consumption somewhere else,” Järvinen says.

“In a nutshell this means minimising the environmental effects of product and operation lifecycles. And it also means that our aim is to detach the growth of environmental effects from the growth of business.”

Assessments and activities based on data

As regards Orion’s own operation, the target is to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 75 per cent by the end of 2025 from the level of 2016. Progress has been very good.

Waste management emissions are Orion’s indirect emissions, which are now being analysed to provide more data. However, Orion is continuously trying to reduce the proportion of overall waste that is hazardous waste.

“Earlier we could only assess the effects outside our own operation with charts and theories. But now we can make an assessment based on the data collected from Fortum’s own plants. This data will increase the reliability of the assessment compared to charts,” Järvinen says.

Part of the continuum of environmental practices

One of the most long-term environmental inputs at Orion has been the production wastewater management with separate flow sewerage. Wastewater with high-risk pollutants is separated from the rest of the wastewater and diverted to a separate plant for treatment.

The company has also completed a number of successful energy saving projects. In 2019, Orion switched to using 100% green electricity at its factories.

The new district heating centre in Turku is part of Orion’s energy programme, which aims for significant cost savings in energy consumption, as well as a further reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the future.

Text: Diana Törnroos