Riihimäki dairy and snack plant shine in environmental matters

Valio Riihimäki personnel make sure that people have snacks and the cornerstones of home cooking, made of high-quality, fresh Finnish milk, in their fridges. All of this is done without creating any landfill waste.

Yoghurt manufacturing at Riihimäki’s Herajoki began in 1968. The 50-year-old plant got a new companion in 2017 in the form of a new snack plant. Roughly 440 Valio people work at Riihimäki.

“The older plant makes milk and cream. Snack products, such yoghurt and plant based Valio Oddlygood® products, are made in the new plant. It is also where the Swedish market’s yoghurts are made. We also manage the distribution centre that delivers products to the parts of Finland that are south of Tampere,” says Plant Director Tapio Tammi.

Those production sideflows that we can’t use, they end up for example as raw material to biofuel production.

Efficient production is an environmental act

Energy efficiency and environmental friendliness were the cornerstones of planning the new snack plant. They currently keep a keen eye on losses: when you save water, energy and package material while minimising the loss associated with product type changes, you also help to save the environment.

“For many years now, Riihimäki has not sent any waste to the landfill. Production side flows that we can’t use end up, for example, as raw material for biofuel,” says Production Manager Jarkko Huntus.

We come full circle when you look at logistics: Valio has the first biogas-operated distribution truck in use and in early 2019, we rolled out Finland’s first biogas-operated milk collection truck.

“The biogas milk collection truck is circular economy at its best. It is used to collect milk from Southern Finland and our goal is to keep it running nearly 24/7. During the day, it’s used to collect regular milk, and at night-time, it runs the organic farm routes.

Designed by Minna

The Riihimäki snack plant was the largest investment in Valio’s history. It’s design and implementation was exceptional – there was a variety of Valio people involved to consider the best practical solutions for their work. One of them was packaging machine operator Minna Ranta, who joined the project.

“The opportunity got me interested right away. It’s pretty unique to get to influence a new plant’s design from the get go,” she says. Since then, Ranta’s career has advanced from packager to shift supervisor.

“Our team spirit and atmosphere here are more than right. A working environment that was new to everyone helped to create a great spirit of helping and learning together. What unites us is our eye for quality. We do everything we can keep our quality high at all stages.”

Facts on the Riihimäki plant

  • Production capacity 120 million kilos
  • In 2018, the dairy and the associated farms created over 2,400 jobs and 123 million euros in the Riihimäki area
  • The plant’s milk is sourced from roughly 550 farms. On average, the distance to dairy is 90 km

Climate change is the global challenge of our era, with an effect on people as well. Through our own actions, however, we can help to make things better. We are aware of the environmental impacts of our operations, and we want to be part of the solution. Our goal is not just to reduce milk’s carbon footprint, it’s to cut it completely by 2035.