Putting coal on the back burner

Synlait is moving away from coal boilers and towards innovative technology to do our bit to help clean up the environment.

COM24958 Synlait - Walkway & Factory 111


In June 2018 we made a commitment to halve our off-farm greenhouse emissions by 2028 and not install another coal boiler at any of our sites. To action this commitment, in 2019 we installed the first large-scale electrode boiler in New Zealand at our Synlait Dunsandel site.

Being 99% efficient – up to 30% more efficient than coal burners - this seven metre tall electrode boiler uses electrodes submerged in water. Electricity flows through the electrodes, vaporising the water into steam to create renewable process heat. Every bit of heat and steam produced is effectively used for a whole range of plant processes at our advanced dairy liquid packaging facility such as pasteurising milk, sterilising equipment and keeping our production lines hygienic.

A massive amount of heat is required to process milk. Traditionally coal is used in dairy plants to produce this heat as it’s an extremely cost-effective source. However, we researched a range of alternatives to coal including diesel, gas, electricity, and biomass. Despite higher running cost, the electrode boiler remains the best alternative to coal.

Our new electrode boiler helps us to reduce our emissions by 13,714 tonnes CO2-e/year. That’s roughly the same as removing 10 years’ worth of emissions from 9,600 households or taking 5,300 cars off the road every year.

In addition to the new electrode boiler, we aim to phase out coal boilers completely as part of our 10-year sustainability plan. By 2030 we aim to be completely converted to alternative fuel, and infrastructure. It’s a decision we’re proud of – as we do our bit to move New Zealand to a lower emissions future.

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