Treat climate change like health and safety: McCain boss

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nick Vermont, McCain’s chief executive in Britain, spoke at a sustainability convention this month
Nick Vermont, McCain’s chief executive in Britain, spoke at a sustainability convention this month

Related tags: Climate change, Recycling, Mccain

Food manufacturers must treat climate change as seriously as health and safety to protect the planet and ensure profitability, according to McCain boss Nick Vermont ahead of climate change talks in Paris.  

McCain’s chief executive in Britain said manufacturers must win over the “hearts and minds” ​of employees during a convention hosted by the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) earlier this month.

‘Culture of organisation’

“A bit like the health and safety issue, it really is about the culture of the organisation. It is lots of little things that add up to a great big thing,” ​he told the convention in London.    

“We will not solve this from the board room. We will solve it from the factory floor and the shop floor.”

Vermont, the FDF’s sustainability steering group chairman, said employees on the ground were often best placed to spot innovative ways to recycle waste and save energy. 

“If you find a business with a very good health and safety record, I guarantee it’s also a very profitable and secure business,” ​he said. 

‘Not only for public good’

“Equally I believe businesses that take climate change and sustainability seriously are doing that not only for the public good, but also the good of their employees and shareholders.

“It absolutely drives sustainability and efficiency of employment and profitability for the future.”

For example McCain installed wind turbines at its Whittlesey factory in 2008 following disruption of the electricity supply and rising prices, he said.

“It’s a very expensive beast and if it’s not running it costs us a fortune. Short-notice stops are a disaster for us,” ​he said. “It was driven by very good business sense.”

The factory also generates 70% of its energy via its treatment anaerobic lagoon that produces biogas by digesting waste water rich in potato starch.

As well as “showstopper”​ investments, Vermont said companies should also take smaller steps such as fitting LED lights and checking for water leaks at plants.

Meanwhile, the world’s leaders have gathered in Paris for the UN summit on climate change starting today (November 30). 

Massive rallies were held around the globe over the weekend to call for action to avert climate change. 

Related topics: Supply Chain

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