This ranges from small-scale projects to the overhaul of our large-scale industrial processes. We started our journey towards a future where nothing is wasted in 2016 with the introduction of our Zero Waste program.
For this program three critical success factors were identified: (1) the valorization of by-products, (2) waste reduction, re-use and recycling programs, and (3) innovation.
The valorization of by-products has been a major contributor in our journey towards zero waste. In our lactic acid production process we generate significant quantities of valuable by-products, such as gypsum. Per ton of lactic acid, almost 2 tons of by-product are produced. The majority of these by-products are valorized, but occasionally they do end up in landfill. In 2017 we achieved a major milestone by implementing a new valorization option for gypsum at our lactic acid plant in the US. A customer in the cement industry started using our gypsum instead of mined, virgin gypsum. This gives us an additional outlet for this by-product next to its use in agriculture as soil conditioner and increased the recycling rate of by-products to 98-99%.
Waste reduction, re-use, and recycling programs are actively being encouraged within Corbion on all levels. Employee awareness and engagement plays a key role, and all employees are encouraged to start zero waste initiatives. This leads to a gamut of locally executed initiatives at all Corbion sites, ranging from the placement of recycling bins and community engagement projects to production process improvements.
An example of a major innovation that helps us on our journey to zero waste is that of our new circular lactic acid manufacturing process, eliminating both the need for lime as an input material as well as the generation of gypsum as a by-product. Our new factory in Rayong, Thailand, that is currently under construction and will become operational in 2023 will utilize this process, expanding our production with as little impact on our footprint as currently technologically feasible.