Like the eponymous Brazilian cars, the “Flex” boiler installed at L’Oréal’s São Paulo plant, and running so far on natural gas, can now also use sugar cane alcohol. Gas, which represented 38% of the plant’s energy consumption, generated 80% of its CO2 emissions. Sugar cane alcohol thus reduces the site’s CO2 emissions by 60%, or by more than 1,000 tonnes. This new technology has been adapted to the existing boiler, thanks to an “atomizer” that converts the liquid alcohol into vapour to feed the burner. Discovered by São Paulo’s Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) team, it is currently being introduced in the Rio plant and could be set up in other sugar cane-growing areas, particularly in Mexico, or could be using other renewable sources of ethanol production like eucalyptus bark.
‘Unlike other countries, sugar cane production in Brazil does not compete with food crops: the potential of available land, excluding deforestation, is still high’, explains Gérald Vincent, EHS Manager for Latin America. Moreover, L’Oréal Brazil has just submitted to a carbon footprint and social and safety audit to ensure the sustainable nature of its sourcing. The vetted supplier in the State of São Paulo uses mechanical picking, does not burn the sugar cane, recycles its waste and is self-sufficient in energy produced from sugar cane bagasse (fibrous residue). Alongside this project, the Brazilian subsidiary is increasing its supplies of “green” electricity from small CO2-neutral hydroelectric power stations. The target being zero CO2 emissions by 2015.