As a huge, global organisation, Jacobi must take its effects on the planet very seriously. We have been working on our sustainability goals behind the scenes for some years now. So that we could lessen the effects of our operations on the environment (after all, we only have one planet and once chance at keeping it safe!), we have worked hard to develop various initiatives and systems that help us operate more sustainably.
To create carbon, something must be burned. In Jacobi’s case we use coconut shells. As coconuts are initially grown as a food source, this is actually one of the most sustainable sources for creating carbon. We work with many small scale farmers living remote areas who are easily able to bypass their country’s environmental regulations and simply dig a pit and burn the coconut shells in the ground. To cool the shells, water is thrown over them and then they’re dried and sold on. Working in this way, the gases created throughout the burning process can simply make their way into the atmosphere. These gases are greenhouse gases, so, not only bad for human (including that of the farmer) health, but bad for the environment too.
With this in mind, we set out to find an alternative way to create carbon that would prevent these gases being released. Once we found the best option, we also had to work out how we could make it accessible to the farmers we work with too. This was a fairly big project to undertake, however, we knew we had to act.
As a solution, we found the EcoGreen Furnace. As mentioned above, to create carbon we must burn the coconut shells. When this happens volatile organic compounds are moved from the coconut shell, resulting in nasty gases. With the EcoGreen Furnace, the shells go in and are burned, the the furnace also burns off these gases to make sure there’s no emissions of anything toxic. This includes carbon monoxide, a very dangerous gas, and general dirty black or brown fumes too. This is a vast difference when compared with burning in a hole in the ground, where all gases and fumes are released into the atmosphere with no control over them at all.
The technology and idea themselves aren’t new or revolutionary. In fact, it’s similar to what’s used when burning rubbish at waste plants. What’s really unique is wanting to help the smaller farmers we work with and trying to change the attitudes towards caring for the environment – both of which are really important to Jacobi.
Currently, we have one in place in India and we know that suppliers and plants are very happy with the results so far. We’re sending one out to Sri Lanka and have immediate plans to provide several more in India too. With these, we’re planning on connecting to a power generator or turbine to turn the steam generated into electricity. Hopefully, we’ll be able to use them to provide power to many towns who might have only had intermittent access to electricity, or even none at all.
It’s an investment for Jacobi, but one we know we have to make. There are lots of small players in the countries we operate in without the money or ability to make these kinds of changes. Jacobi stepped in to help because we have the financial ability and resources to do so. Not only do we have the finances to do this, but our people also have the drive and passion to improve the environment. It’s simply our duty to do this.
Elsewhere and on a larger scale, coconut shells are burned in big kilns to create carbon. Again, this process creates a lot of heat and we make sure that none of this heat is wasted. We capture the heat from the kilns and use it to dry the shells or to create steam which is used later down in the line in the production process. Previously we would have burned diesel or gas to dry the shells. This can have health impacts on humans and is known to contribute to climate change too, so reusing the waste heat is a great improvement.
When burning the coconut shells, there’s so much heat that there’s actually an excess leftover even once we’ve used it for our production. There’s no need or excuse for this excess heat to be wasted so we use it to generate energy that can be sent to power turbines to provide electricity for local communities. This gives communities access to clean power when they may not have had any before. These communities would often have only been able to burn fossil fuels to create power too, so, again, this step helps to decrease global warming.
Environmental concerns and activities are not unusual in 2020, but some countries lack the resources to tackle these problems. As a global company with the financial ability to help, we know we must act where we can. Whatever we learn or develop in one plant, in time we replicate in all our others. We intend to roll these schemes out everywhere we operate and put the EcoGreen Furnace in the hands of every farmer that needs it. In the future we want to take each step possible to minimise harmful emissions and to ensure no heat or energy is wasted during our production processes.