MRO Q&A: What Makes Up a Food Processing Plant’s Carbon Footprint?

MRO Q&A is a monthly problem-solving column for maintenance, repair and operational issues.

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What all is involved in a plant’s carbon footprint? How can steam used in facilities help reduce the carbon footprint?

Your plant’s carbon footprint is a measurement of all greenhouse gases created to support the operation of your facility. A carbon footprint is made up of the sum of two parts: the primary footprint and the secondary footprint.

The primary footprint is a measure of the direct emissions of CO2 created from various daily activities such as heating the plant, operating your various processes or transporting items around the facility. This is basically the sum of all items you have direct control over.

The secondary footprint is a measure of the CO2 emissions created during the manufacture of the products you purchase for use in your production of finished goods, such as packaging or raw materials. This is basically the sum of all items you buy and use.

The total plant carbon footprint is the sum of these two separate footprints and represents the total impact your plant operation has on the environment. It is supposed to be the direct measurement related to the amount of greenhouse gases produced to support your production activity created by burning fossil fuels.

If you can reduce the burning of fossil fuels, you can reduce your carbon footprint. If you redirect the flow of your steam to do more than one function as it flows through your facility it would be looked on as getting an additional use out of the original CO2 emitted to create that steam, and therefore it would mean a reduction in your carbon footprint. As a general rule, anytime you create an energy savings you should be reducing your plant’s carbon footprint.
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