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Cost savings identified in carbon label move for shortbread

By Lindsey Partos , 01-Apr-2009

Mindful of its carbon footprint, Mey Selections is the first consumer goods company in Scotland to gain a carbon reduction label following data-mining efforts to pinpoint carbon emissions along the supply chain for its Scottish shortbread product.

Joining crisp maker Walker's and Dairy Milk maker Cadbury that recently acquired the label, the shortbread will carry the UK's Carbon Trust reduction stamp from 1 May.

"The process is about putting a discipline into the manufacturing system, and doing something concrete about the benchmarking findings," John Strak, managing director of Mey Selections, explained to ConfectioneryNews.com.

Set up in 2001 by the UK government, the Carbon Trust aims to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, working with industry and organisations to slash carbon emissions and to develop commercial low carbon technologies.

As a first step, companies working towards the trust's reduction label start with a strict analysis of carbon emissions, examining every link in the supply chain and all elements involved in the full life-cycle of their product.

Made from butter, sugar, wheat and rice flour, agricultural methods and processes contributed to carbon emissions in the shortbread manufacturing process. But as John Strak pointed out, energy waste was apparent further into the manufacturing cycle.

"Ovens were one of the main areas linked to energy use and waste," he said.

The company will now work towards solutions to reducing the levels of heat wasted from the ovens during the baking process.

"Following the first step to achieve the label, the second step is to address issues to keep the label and to answer questions as to how we can reduce energy," added the managing director.

Mey Selections has two years to keep the label; at the end of this time the Carbon Trust will analyse steps taken to get to grip with the emissions.

Each reduction label has a number; if the process improves the number will decrease accordingly.

"The number will go down if we decrease our energy emissions and demonstrates our efforts to deal with the issue in our supply chain," said Strak.

Energy analysis equals cost savings

A tighter analysis of energy use in the supply chain is an essential step for any manufacturing business eager to save costs in energy.

And while prices for oil, in particular, have plummeted from their highs of 2008, implicit in the move to a carbon reduction label are savings on energy bills.

"We believe it's the right way to go to reduce our impact on the environment, and in addition, the benchmarking process indicates areas we can make cost savings," added Strak.

According to John Strak, three-year old Mey Selections, which "tested the water" on carbon labels for its shortbread product, is keen to make the energy-benchmarking discipline an integral part of its brand identity, from oatcakes and biscuits to cheeses and preserves.

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