Ireland can now boast of having the first baby formula plant in the world that is fully carbon neutral after the culmination of a 10-year plan. European food giant Danone said its facility in Wexford is the first baby formula production site in the world to be certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust.
The Carbon Trust was set up in 2001 to assist the UK Government in moving to a low carbon economy, and has since been used by thousands of businesses, governments and organisations around the world to implement environmentally-conscious plans.
Danone Wexford, which employs 350 people, produces household brands such as Aptamil, Cow&Gate and Nutrilon for children in 41 countries around the world.
The plant sustainably manufactures high-quality baby formula by implementing five key steps, Danone said.
The facility sources 100% renewable electricity and uses a biomass boiler powered by sustainable wood fuels, resulting in 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide savings compared to 2010, representing a 70% reduction in its direct carbon footprint, but doubling its production volumes in a decade.
Danone said the facility has developed significant initiatives to become a paperless site, using drones for monitoring inventory and innovative technologies for monitoring energy.
The sustainable wood fuel powering the boiler is sourced from the local woodchipping industry, also delivering a positive economic impact in Wexford County, Danone claimed.
It said it was committed to contributing to regenerative agriculture practices in Ireland as a verified member of Origin Green, the only global food and drink sustainability program uniting Government, food producers and the private sector.
All waste from production processes or packaging materials is recovered, the firm said.
Chairman and CEO of Danone, Emmanuel Faber, said: “At extraordinary times like the one we are living at the moment, it is more important than ever to protect the local ecosystems where we operate and create sustainable value for everyone.
"The carbon neutral certification of Danone Wexford is an excellent illustration of implementing climate action to protect the health of the planet and of the people. It is also a step towards realising our commitment to achieving zero net carbon emissions across our entire value chain by 2050."
The Wexford facility was a beacon for other facilities, he added.
"This is only a first step and we should accelerate even more to create a low-emissions, climate-resilient future. It is through key investments like this one that we take a step forward towards reaching this ambition.”
Danone employs almost 700 people in Ireland, including two supply points in Macroom and Wexford and offices in Dublin.