Fazer’s xylitol factory wins Circwaste’s annual circular economy award – the pioneering company industrially produces xylitol from oat hulls

News 2021-04-28 at 17:07
© Liisa Eerola / Fazer

Fazer’s xylitol factory has been recognized with Circwaste’s annual circular economy award. Fazer is building a xylitol production facility in Lahti which is unique on a global scale. The xylitol is produced from oat hulls. The facility serves as a prime example of innovation in modern circular economy. The Circwaste award promotes parties and projects which drive circular economy forward. The Circwaste project coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute selects whom the recognition is given to.

Director General at the Finnish Environment Institute, Leif Schulman, handed the virtual diploma over to the lead of Fazer’s Xylitol Venture, Anna Nicol, in the webinar on sustainable growth in municipalities, Kestävä kasvu kunnissa – rahoitusta ja ratkaisuja, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The webinar saw the introduction of funding possibilities and solutions for the promotion of circular economy, climate change control, environmental values, and social sustainability.

“In making my choice, I weighed heavily on the large-scale picture and advanced development of solutions. The new Fazer xylitol factory, beginning operations in 2021, where oat hulls from the company’s own production side stream are used as raw material, demonstrates the possibilities in circular economy on an industrial scale. Both ecological and economic sustainability are improved simultaneously. The xylitol factory creates over 30 new jobs in Lahti, which also displays steps taken toward social sustainability”, says Leif Schulman, Director General at the Finnish Environment Institute. “As a whole, Fazer’s xylitol factory is a shining example of solutions that we need in order to break into a new age of societal sustainability.”

Fazer invested 50 million euros into its xylitol factory. The investment supports the company’s strategy toward the goal of being a pioneer in plant-based food solutions.

“This is a wonderful recognition for the work we do in promoting circular economy and responsibility at Fazer. We are the world’s first industrial operator that produces value-added products out of oat hulls. It is exciting that we get to participate in the creation of a new use for this food industry side stream, which in turn also makes it possible for us to return to the market with a domestic xylitol product. This recognition is taken with great pride”, says Anna Nicol, the Xylitol Venture VP at Fazer Lifestyle Foods.

New technology to make xylitol from oat hulls

Fazer’s xylitol is made from oat hulls, an oat mill side stream. The xylitol factory is built next to Fazer’s oat mill in Lahti: the factory serves as the world’s first xylitol factory where the raw material comes from the company’s own produce. It is a unique manufacturing process, since oat has not previously been utilized for the commercial production of xylitol.

The oat hull mass produced at the xylitol factory will be used as fuel for Lahti Energia’s bioheat plant to be built next door, which then turns it into renewable heat and electric energy for Fazer’s Lahti industrial area, this way reducing the plant’s environmental footprint.

“For circular economy to be successfully implemented requires us to rethink our chain of values; requires us to learn to see surplus as material, and take that into consideration early in the developmental stage of a process. Fazer’s new process for manufacturing xylitol from domestic oat side streams is a prime example of a circular economy business model”, says the Circwaste project Head of Unit, Tuuli Myllymaa from the Finnish Environment Institute.

The global demand for xylitol is growing rapidly, and it is estimated that 90 percent of the xylitol factory produce gets exported for use in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries.

Fazer currently employs over 700 people in the Päijät-Häme capital. The xylitol factory set to begin operations in 2021 has already created over 30 new jobs in Lahti, and it also creates new jobs indirectly.

Fazer's xylitol factory in Lahti. © Robert Orthén / Fazer

The Circwaste project circular economy award

The Circwaste project, together with an estimeed panel of voters, hands out the annual circular economy award based on the implemented measures submitted into the Material Leap online service. Material Leap is an online service which encourages all Finns, both communities and private persons, to implement cleaner and more energy-efficient ways to produce goods and services while conserving natural resources. These actions can be implemented by a municipality, company, community, or a private person. The winner of the award will be given a diploma, and will garner publicity. The winner of the first Circwaste award was selected by Director General at the Finnish Environment Institute, Lea Kauppi, in 2019.

Further information

  • VP Anna Nicol, Fazer Lifestyle Foods, firstname.lastname@fazer.com, tel. +35850 383 7735
  • Circwaste project Head of Unit, Tuuli Myllymaa, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, tel. +358295 251 437, firstname.lastname@syke.fi

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