“We are investing on the packaging side in some more wrap-around carton systems to make more efficient use of cardboard,” Clothier told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “That investment is £800,000. We’ll be able to do multi-format SRP [shelf-ready packaging] that will use less cardboard.”
Shelf-ready packaging is designed to make products more visible on retailers’ shelves and enables them put items taken directly from delivery trucks on display with minimal waste.
Clothier was speaking after last week’s official opening of Wyke Farms’ £1.3M water treatment plant, which allows it to reuse waste water for production. At the same time the company confirmed the second phase of its anaerobic digester (AD) project was on track for completion later this year.
“We have got an AD plant which fuels two combined heat and power plants to put electricity back into the grid,” said Clothier.
“We are able to use any organic waste for the AD plant and other factory waste is being recycled: cardboard, paper packaging …”
He also outlined plans to install roof-mounted solar panels. “We plan to get up to 1.5MWh of electricity from that.”
Once of the challenges of solar power was storing the energy, as it was mainly generated in the summer, and even then only for a maximum of 10-12 hours daily.
Other areas of research included looking at the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen, which could be burned as an energy source. “That wouldn’t have been affordable for us as a business like ours three years ago,” said Clothier.
But his ideas didn’t stop there, he added. “We’re putting a gas-to-grid plant in at the end of October and once we have that, we are going to look at where we can go with green transport.”
He also aimed to explore the possibility of using already chilled milk to cool water, which could then be used for other purposes.
Wyke Farms claims to be the UK’s largest independent cheesemaker and milk processor, selling more than 14,000t of cheese annually. Its products are available in a wide range of grocery retailers.