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Dawn Meats saves 885 tonnes of plastic packaging

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Left to right: Gill Higgins and Niall Browne. Credit: Dawn Meats
Left to right: Gill Higgins and Niall Browne. Credit: Dawn Meats

Related tags Sustainability Investment

The leading meat processor has saved 885 tonnes of plastic in the last two years as part major plastic reduction plan across its retail packaging.

This is equivalent to around 100m plastic carrier bags and comes as Dawn Meats embarks on a 15% reduction plan, decreasing its plastic use across its rigid trays, films and flexibles used for retail packaging.

With these new plastic reduction measures, the business estimates it will save more than 800 tonnes every year.

Helping to reach this saving, the company initiated a project to deliver a new vacuum packaging solution for mince, which uses 55% less plastic and increases product shelf life by 25%.

The company has also set a target of the plastic it uses being 100% re-usable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Although it does admit this is proving challenging; in the UK, where Dawn Meats operates as Dunbia, infrastructure to recycle flexible films has yet to be introduced. A safe solution for re-useable red meat primary packaging also needs to be developed and the company is actively collaborating with packaging suppliers and researchers to identify a viable solution.

These details are highlighted in its recent sustainability update, which also flags the company’s achievements in its scope 1, 2 and 3 reductions.

In this arena, Dawn Meats has achieved a reduction of 49% in location-based scope 1 and 2 emissions and 15% in Scope 3 emissions intensity; overall, hitting a 9.6% reduction in total emissions.

Helping to drive down its emissions is the implementation of renewables and waste initiatives. The business is now powering all sites with 100% renewable electricity and recycling and reusing 51% of all waste, excluding that which is sent for energy generation.

The update covers the period from January 2021 to June 2023 and charts the company’s progress in delivering on its €100m-plus ‘Plan Four Zero’ sustainability strategy, which includes a target of reducing Scope 1 and Scope 2 absolute emissions by 59% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2040.

Commenting on the sustainability progress, Niall Browne, chief executive of Dawn Meats, said: “At Dawn Meats and Dunbia, we recognise that our future relies upon the health of our natural world and the wellbeing of our communities. Sustainability has been central to our business plan for over 40 years, and we collaborate with others to reach shared goals.

“We also recognise that achieving our targets requires real action, which is why we have committed €100m [approx. £86.8m] by 2030 as part of our Plan Four Zero initiative. Getting to Net Zero involves big changes within our business and transformation across our supply chain. This progress report shows just how committed we are to implementing the wide-ranging and advanced measures required to allow us do this.”

Gill Higgins, sustainability director at Dawn Meats, added that the company was pleased with the progress so far and hinted at further investment to come.

This update report outlines the wide range and high number of projects we have invested in and the system changes we have introduced,” ​she said. “These science-based measures have allowed us to achieve a series of important and carefully measured savings on emissions, energy, water usage, packaging and waste. In addition, we are committed to working with the rest of the industry to address wider sustainability challenges and to remain competitive in the marketplace. As we continue to achieve results, we will continue to increase our ambition and our investment.”

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