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A Case Study on Sustainability


The Danish company Novozymes was acclaimed by Moira Gunn, in her book Welcome to Biotech Nation, as an outstanding and unique company because it provides not only an Economic Report annually, but reports on environmental and social sustainability. Financial, environmental and social data can be found online at the Novozymes website. This corporate position on maintaining a broad global vision is the result of leadership by CEO Steen Riisgaard, a former environmental activist.

Novozymes is a world leader in enzyme technology and uses gene cloning techniques and novel expression systems to generate bioproducts, in particular enzymes, for various industrial processes. Novozyme specializes in optimizing enzymes for replacement of harsh chemicals and processes in commercial applications. Novozymes helps other companies perform life-cycle analyses on their processes and replace polluting systems with those that have less adverse impacts on the environment, or present lowered risks to employee health and safety.

The company is flourishing, particularly now, in an era where sustainability has finally been recognized by other companies as making sound business sense. Two specific enzyme products experiencing a high level of popularity in 2007 were noted in the forward to the Novozymes 2007 Annual Report. These products were enzymes for the bioethanol industry and the detergent industry. Sales of both increased in 2007, due to rising fossil fuel prices. Novozymes sells more than half the enzymes used for bioethanol production in the United States.

It remains to be seen whether the bioethanol industry will continue to be a growing market for Novozymes, since biofuels are seeing a fall in popularity in terms of energy alternatives. However, since enzymes make it possible to achieve effective washing results at lower temperatures, the company expects sales to the detergent industry to continue to rise for some time. Another major focus of the company is enzymes for producing animal feeds. Novozyme enzymes might be found in any number of additional products used in everyday life.

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