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Emissions to air

The boilers and pulp dryers we use in our factories produce air pollutants in the form of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and dust. These pollutants have a significant adverse affect on human health and air quality, and their emissions are subject to strong regulations within the EU. We are committed to finding ways to reduce our emissions of pollutants and meet the levels required by regulations.


The main source of Nordzucker’s emissions to air is the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) in our boilers to produce heat, steam and electricity. However, transporting beets and sugar also contributes to our air emissions. Read more about emissions from transport.


Changing fuel types

The amount of pollutants emitted by our boilers and pulp dryers depends on the used type and quality of fuel. While coal and oil contain 1 - 4 per cent sulphur, the sulphur content of natural gas is negligible. One way we reduce air emissions is by changing fuels from coal to oil in some factories, and from oil to gas in others.

The fuel mix used by our factories depends on the type of equipment at each site and the availability of fuel types.

Low NOx burners

To reduce NOx emissions further we installed in some plants low NOx burners that reduce emissions by producing short, strongly stable flames using flue gas recirculation. In other cases where low NOx burners are not suitable we have also introduced flue gas purification DeNOx systems that reduce emissions through ammonia or urea injection.

Post-combustion processes

In the plants where we use coal and oil as fuel, it is still a challenge for us to meet the European Emission Directive emission levels for SO2. To overcome this, we have installed post-combustion systems in some plants, including Nykøbing in Denmark. These systems reduce SO2 emissions through adsorption and absorption.

“The European Emission Directive gives us a clear guideline to follow which will help us for further improvements in air quality”.

Albrecht Schaper, Head of Environment, Permits & Licenses about the requirements set by the IED directives


By applying these measures, we managed to significantly lower our SO2 and NOx emissions per tonne of sugar over the last 9 years. SO2 emissions have decreased by 30% since 2010, while NOx emissions have dropped by 45%.  Dust emission levels have been reduced by more than 50% since 2010, mainly because of new steam dryers in several of our factories.