During the past year, we placed significant focus on increasing operational efficiency. By doing more with less, better utilizing the services we have, or better utilizing the resources we need, we are able to deliver services and products to our customers in a timely and efficient manner. One focus of activity has been decreasing working capital, which means fewer days of inventory. By improving our forecast processes we have experienced fewer product write-offs and lower waste levels. In all other areas of the supply chain, we have targeted resource efficiencies, including improved planning and logistics, locating warehouses closer to customer facilities, sourcing locally-produced products instead of importing, reducing energy consumption for lighting in our different facilities and automating processes that both increase quality and reduce waste.
Another aspect of improving efficiencies has been the utilization of additional capacity at our Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.A. production plant, bringing in house manufacturing processes that we have in the past conducted at contract manufacturing facilities. At our facility in Chocolate Bayou, Texas, U.S.A., we modified one of our existing incinerators to support the increased volumes we are now manufacturing at this plant. Specifically, we modified this incinerator to be low in air emissions and achieved a reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by more than 60 percent. We also plan to modify our other incinerator to deliver lower emissions in the future.
Equally, we have modified several packaging formats in order to reduce packaging materials and maximize use of pallet space for shipping. One packaging efficiency example is that for large volume products, we have moved to a universal shipping bag with labeling which is flexible for different destinations, rather than producing bags to forecast and then discarding those that we surplus to actual requirements after production. All these changes, some small, some quite significant, have made us a more efficient manufacturer in 2013, and we continue to pursue opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint in 2014 and beyond.
In 2013, following a full review and planning process in 2012, we managed to convert much of our raw material supply sourcing routes to minimize shipments and take the shortest possible shipping routes to the required Novus destination. Certain products that were sourced to China and India out of the U.S. were transferred to shipments out of Europe. With an estimated 36 containers travelling the new route in 2013, we roughly calculate a shipping saving of over 350,000 km, which roughly equates to ten tons of carbon emissions avoidance, or planting about 250 trees.
In 2013, we conducted a major review of our entire procurement and payment procedures throughout all our sites, to review opportunities to harmonize procedures throughout the Novus world and identify possible efficiencies. In some locations, for example, several printed documents are used in the supply process, when, in fact, we have the tools to manage almost all of our procurement and delivery processes electronically. Following this review in 2013, we will be implementing a further transition to paperless working as far as possible throughout all Novus facilities. We calculate this could save more than 20,000 printed sheets per year, saving paper, ink and electricity.
Novus is certified by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) as a Responsible Care® Management System (RCMS) company for the Novus headquarters campus and Chocolate Bayou, Texas facilities. In 2013, we also certified our Little Rock facility in Arkansas to the Responsible Care® standard, passing the certification audit on the first attempt.
Responsible Care® is a voluntary initiative of the global chemical industry focused on improving performance, communication and accountability. Responsible Care® commits companies, through their national or regional chemical associations, to work together to continuously improve the health, safety and environmental performance of their products and processes. It is a major contribution by the industry in achieving sustainable development. To maintain certification, we are audited every three years by an independent certified auditor.
We place utmost emphasis on quality in all manufacturing and supply processes. Our approach is encompassed in the Novus Quality System (NQS) which defines quality policies and procedures for all Novus operations, including manufacturing processes, control of impurities, traceability of raw materials, documentation and labeling. An important part of this is our Minor Impurities Policy (MIP), which ensures all products are free of dioxins, PCB’s, heavy metals and other impurities before they leave any of our production plants. This reduces risk to our customers and producers. Our sales specifications summarize the functionality of each product and provide customers with a Novus guarantee of quality and functionality. Technical specifications of Novus products can be downloaded from Novus’s website.
Our manufacturing facilities adhere to nine different third party certification programs to ensure quality in all aspects of Novus’s operations in 24 separate certification programs across all plants. These include: ISO9000, ISO18000, ISO22000, OHSAS 18000, FAMI-QS, HACCP, GMP, Safe Feed/Safe Food and Kosher certifications. Quality Assurance (QA) is maintained through a global HQ function with local QA officers at each production location. Novus customers are regularly welcomed at all Novus plants to inspect quality procedures, audit production, review product release processes and inspect quality assurance systems.
We are accountable to ensure that all our products are delivered to our customers with adequate information relating to health and safety, standards conformance and intended use of products. We ensure that all product marketing to customers is conducted with integrity and that all claims of product performance are verified thoroughly in accordance with Novus internal standards and science-based support.
We maintain The Product Stewardship Code supported by a Product Stewardship Program which is a detailed manual of all related procedures. This is one of the seven American Chemistry Council Responsible Care® Codes of Management Practice. The goal of Product Stewardship is to make environmental, health, safety and security (EHS&S) an important part of designing, manufacturing, selling, distributing, using, recycling and disposal of our products. Product Stewardship involves listening to customer concerns, enhancing Novus and customer EHS&S information and integrating EHS&S into all aspects of business activities and decisions. We estimate that 95% of products manufactured by Novus conform to the rigorous requirements of the Product Stewardship Code.
Novus products are assessed using our The Product Safety Assessment (PSA) and re-evaluated at least once every five years. The PSA ensures our thorough understanding of product risk through the identification of hazards (e.g. toxicity, physical properties), exposure concerns, regulatory issues and ultimate product disposition. Re-evaluation of product safety is triggered by new toxicity or hazard data, process changes or customer concerns.
We take responsibility for the way we operate, accepting accountability for our environmental impacts. We adopt a precautionary approach, including sustainability thinking in all that we do, and encourage our employees to adopt green practices wherever possible. We respect and observe all environmental laws and regulations in all the countries where we operate. We do our best to optimize resource consumption, while minimizing the associated environmental impacts resulting from our use of energy, water, and materials in production and logistics operations around the world. Our Platinum LEED certified headquarters building is an example of our commitment to environmental stewardship. We take part in important environmental initiatives, such as the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) program in the U.S.
Consumption of Resources
Energy: Overall in 2013, our absolute total energy consumption for all facilities including factories, offices and research sites increased by 15 percent to 1.05 million gigajoules of energy. However, energy consumption (Gj/ton of production) increased by 4 percent, reflecting the control of energy consumption per ton of production at our factories. Throughout the year, we made efforts to conserve energy consumption. However, at our Little Rock factory, we continued our factory expansion and efficiency improvements, by accommodating production of some products in-house that had previously been contract manufactured. This means that production lines were not always running at full efficiencies during product trials and commissioning of new equipment. We expect that we will return to increased production efficiency and lower energy per ton of production in 2014.
In 2013, we recorded a second full year of solar-generated energy at our Green Acres Research Farm. At Green Acres we have installed a solar energy system with a 168 solar panel array that has the annual capacity to generate over 60,000 kilowatt hours of energy. This is equivalent to powering around six average American households for one year, and it supplied over 17 percent of our annual electricity consumption at Green Acres.
Greenhouse gas emissions: In 2013, our total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for all facilities including factories, offices and research sites increased by 13 percent to a total of 85,654 tons of CO2e. However, GHG emissions intensity (CO2e/ton of production) increased by three percent, linked to our energy consumption performance. We continue to review our operations for opportunities to reduce our carbon emissions, for example, through conversion to use of natural gas where possible.
Our GHG emissions were partially offset in 2013 by 30 tons of CO2e, a benefit of our solar facility at our Green Acres Research Farm.
Water: In 2013, our water consumption reduced slightly at 310,662 cubic meters, based on all of our manufacturing and key staff facilities around the world. This represents a reduction of water per ton of production of 11 percent, demonstrating positive water management and controls at our sites. Water is used in our manufacturing processes, with small amounts for cleaning and hygiene.
Waste: In 2013, we record a total of 421,937 tons of liquid and solid waste, an increase of five percent versus 2012. Per ton of production output, this represents a five percent reduction in waste per ton of production, demonstrating good control of overall waste generation. Sixty percent of our solid waste was recycled.
Paper: We have converted as many of our systems to paperless as possible and now pay most of our suppliers electronically. We maintain a policy of minimal printing in all our offices and facilities. Thanks to our new CRM tool, we have been able to increase the use of electronic brochures and product education materials with our customers.
Biodiversity: We place a conscious role in supporting and maintaining biodiversity in the areas of our facilities wherever possible. In our Novus headquarters and our Green Acres Research Farm, we have undertaken initiatives such as bee-keeping and provision of nesting facilities and habitats for the bobwhite quail, The bobwhite quail population has significantly decreased because of habitat loss associated with industrialization of farming and forestry, loss of native plants and air pollution.