Environmental responsibility

Valio is actively promoting environmentally friendly milk production. The environmental programmes of Valio plants are more strict than the required minimum, and over 80% of the packaging is made out of recycled materials.

Valio's environmental system

Valio's environmental system

The certificate was re-approved in 2012 to be in force until 29 May 2015. Environmental system performance undergoes continuous evaluation via internal and external audits.

Valio’s environmental goals are determined in three-year programs, and annual intermediate goals are set on the basis of the specific measures to be taken.

Environmental goals 2012-2014

The intermediate goals set for 2012 were met for the waste water load, but not for waste water volume.

In order to avoid overlapping figures, energy efficiency improvement was transferred from the environmental system to the development program under the energy efficiency agreement.

Raw materials and production volumes

Raw materials and production volumes

Chemicals are employed in the cleaning and disinfection of pipes and equipment, and in whey processing. The environmental impacts of the acids and alkalis used are directed at the operation of waste water purification plants. Under normal conditions, acids and alkalis neutralise each other naturally, or waste water is neutralised prior to the purification process. In exceptional situations, overly acidic or alkaline waste water may disturb a purification plant’s operation.

Valio plants’ refrigeration facilities use ammonia which is toxic to humans and harmful to waterborne organisms if discharged, but nevertheless commonly used in large refrigeration plants.


In 2012, Valio took in 1 865 million litres of milk in Finland, of which 37.7 million litres was organic milk. A total of 1 765 million litres of milk was used in production at Valio’s plants.

In addition, a total of 14 000 tonnes of different jams, purées and concentrates, and 25 000 tonnes of other auxiliary and raw materials, such as salt, sugar and vegetable oil, were used in production.

A total of 938 million kilos of dairy products and juices was produced during 2012.

Of the most important chemicals, 6 400 tonnes of 50% sodium hydroxide and 2 430 tonnes of 60% nitric acid were used. The ingredients plants’ processes consumed 5 200 tonnes of 33% hydrochloric acid.

The refrigeration facilities at Valio plants held a total of 129 tonnes of ammonia at year-end 2012, a decrease of 9 tonnes from year-end 2011. The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency, which supervises the use of hazardous chemicals, did not inspect any Valio plants during the year.

Water consumption and waste water

Water consumption and waste water

Two operations that consume a lot of water in dairies are cooling and cleaning. Cooling is primarily accomplished using surface water that is returned to natural waterways via a heat exchanger. Milk is an easily spoiled ingredient so production hygiene which is essential for product quality is maintained through cleaning.

Valio favours Cleaning in Place (CIP) over batch cleaning in its efforts to decrease water consumption, and saves on water and chemicals by optimising process equipment CIP and recycling usable water.

The substantial use of water and the high load caused by product residues ending up in waste water make dairies’ waste water a significant environmental risk. All Valio sites bar one are connected to a municipal waste water purification plant, and especially in small towns Valio’s load is considerable compared to that of the town’s.


Valio used 4.1 million cubic metres of surface water from the water system for process flow cooling in 2012. The company also consumed 4.5 million cubic metres of household water: 4.2 million from municipal waterworks and 0.3 million from its own supply. The consumption of reused water totalled 1.1 million cubic metres in 2012.

The consumption of clean household water decreased by 1.3% on the previous year. In 2012, Valio production plants discharged 5 million cubic metres of waste water, 2.1% less than in the previous year.

The chemical oxygen demand (COD) describing the amount of organic substances in waste water (9 763 tonnes) was 5.2% down on the previous year.

Cooling and condensation waters were discharged directly to natural waterways. Three plants hold a permit from the water rights court to discharge waters, and one has an environmental permit that includes the option to do so. Obligatory monitoring related to the permits observed no harmful impacts from the discharges in 2012.

Energy consumption and emissions into air

Energy consumption and emissions into air

Large amounts of thermal energy are required in drying powder products, the heat treatment of some products, for cleaning, and in heating buildings. The boiler rooms at Valio plants are maintained by subcontractors.

Energy production results in emissions into air. The quality and quantity of emissions depends on the fuel used in that energy production. Valio’s Lapinlahti and Seinäjoki boiler plants are included in the emissions trading system under the Kyoto Protocol.


Total energy consumption in 2012 stood at 714 GWh, up 0.7% on the previous year.

Electricity accounted for 31% of energy consumption in 2012. Electricity consumption decreased by 0.3 GWh on the previous year to stand at 222 GWh.

Thermal energy consumption in 2012 totalled 492 GWh, up 69 GWh on the previous year.

In 2012, heat pumps recovered a total of 7.5 GWh of waste energy from processes.

Valio’s primary sources of thermal energy in 2012, calculated as thermal power, were peat (47%), heavy fuel oil (19%) and natural gas (14%).

The use of peat and heavy fuel oil decreased compared with the previous year. The share of renewable fuels of total energy production increased to 18% of the thermal energy need.

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy production resulting from burning fossil fuels and peat amounted to 157 000 tonnes, nitrogen oxide emissions to 282 tonnes, sulphur dioxide emissions to 336 tonnes, and particle emissions to 16 tonnes.

Waste management and packages

Waste management and packages

Sorting instructions at our production sites have been adapted to local waste management regulations. The company has succeeded in reducing the amount of waste disposed of as refuse by improving waste sorting and forwarding more waste to energy fraction.

Valio directs all faulty batches of fresh dairy products and products returned from shops to the A-rehu feed factory in Varkaus, where liquid products are separated from packages. The product waste is forwarded for use as animal feed employing procedures in accordance with the EU’s animal by-product regulation. Unpacked batches not suitable for use as animal feed are forwarded for use in the production of biogas as approved in accordance with the animal by-product regulation.

Valio products are packed in disposable consumer packages. In the domestic market, Valio liquid products are transported in reusable milk boxes, trolleys and dollies. After use they are returned to the dairy and washed before re-use. Obsolete transport units are recycled.

Valio Ltd owns a 25% share of Suomen NP-kierrätys Oy, which focuses on policy development in beverage carton package recycling. Suomen NP-kierrätys Oy in turn owns a 25% share of Suomen Kuitukierrätys Oy, which in accordance with the Finnish Waste Act has assumed producer community responsibilities with regard to all fibre packages.

Suomen Kuitukierrätys Oy handles the collection of used fibre packages (e.g. beverage cartons) and the practical arrangements with regard to their recycling, working together with other parties responsible for fibre package recycling.


In 2012, 634 tonnes of waste was forwarded for reuse; mainly corrugated board boxes, wooden pallets and metal barrels. 1 504 tonnes of material, mainly corrugated board and scrap metal, was directed for recycling. Organic waste amounted to a total of 833 tonnes.

The amount of mixed waste totalled 800 tonnes, of which 577 tonnes were disposed of as refuse and 233 tonnes incinerated. There were 1 107 tonnes of sludge from sand drains and 68 tonnes of building waste. Energy fraction totalled 1 446 tonnes in 2012.

The dairy industry produces only a little dangerous waste and Valio was responsible for just 105 tonnes in 2012, the majority being waste oil and solid oily waste from maintenance procedures.

37 500 tonnes of new packing materials were delivered with products in 2012, of which 25 000 tonnes were destined for the Finnish market and 12 500 tonnes went for export.

14 600 tonnes of beverage carton and 5 300 tonnes of plastic were delivered to the domestic market with products in 2012.

80% of Valio packages for the domestic market in 2012 were made of material for which Finland has a functioning recycling system.