Agri-food firms take climate change lead, says ABP manager

Agri-food companies are already playing a lead role in reducing Ireland’s carbon footprint, said John Durkan, sustainability and environmental manager with ABP Food Group.
Agri-food firms take climate change lead, says ABP manager

The leading meat processor was the first food processing company in Ireland to be fully ISO 50001 accredited due to its energy efficiency initiatives in all six sites in Ireland.

This initiative was accompanied by an energy reduction of 1,500MWh and an associated carbon emission reduction of nearly 600 tCO2e across the six sites.

This reduction equates to around 2% of ABP Ireland’s energy consumption.

A further reduction of 5,500MWh has been identified through ISO 50001, another 7% energy reduction and an emission reduction of over 2,000tCO2e.

“This is part of our ‘Doing More With Less’ programme, a resource management initiative where we look at consumption of resources in our organisation right along the supply chain,” said Mr Durkan.

“There is a growing population in the world. Water and fossil fuels are important resources that we must strive to protect. We are also looking at what we consume off-site.”

ABP’s approach is to test each sustainability feature in one location and then introduce the learnings to the rest of its estate.

ABP has been the first company globally to received quadruple certification from the Carbon Trust for the progress it is making on reducing its environmental impact.

Since 2008, the company has its CO2 emissions by 16%. The company has also reduced its water consumption by 39% and reduced its primary energy consumption by 17%.

“We are looking to gain value from any cardboard and plastic used in our processes,” said Mr Durkan.

“We have adopted a ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’ policy; as a result, we have sent nothing to landfill since 2015. That required a significant capital investment.”

At ABP Ellesmere in Shropshire, England, the company reopened its plant last year after a £20m upgrade which saw it become first beef-processing facility in the world to be externally accredited as achieving carbon-neutral status, which, along with biodiversity areas and the deployment of the latest water recovery and reuse technology, makes it one of the most sustainably advanced abattoirs in the world.

This initiative has been recognised by the British Food and Drink Federation, ahead of initiatives from PepsiCo, KP Snacks, United Biscuits, and Mondelez International.

ABP’s latest developments at its Nenagh plant have incorporated further technological advancements which will help keep ABP at the forefront of sustainable processing globally.

“We have a thorough sustainability policy and very high stretch targets,” said Mr Durkan. “We aim to reduce our water usage by 50% by 2020, our energy consumption by 40%, and our carbon footprint by 30%. We are progressing well on that journey.

“We are developing our business to sustain our environment, whether it is reducing our carbon footprint, increasing energy efficiency or working with our farmers to develop a more efficient supply chain.”

ABP is a founding member of Bord Bia’s Origin Green initiative. It was also honoured as International Green World Ambassadors at a ceremony in the UK this year.

Meanwhile, industry leaders all around the globe are gathering for a series of 24-hour ‘Climathon’ think- tanks, focusing on climate change challenges within the agri-food sector.

Climathon events are taking place in 121 cities around the world.

The Cork event takes place in the Environmental Research Institute, UCC, from 10am tomorrow to 10am on Saturday.

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