Whatever industry you're working in it's likely that sustainability is a topic that is much discussed . But for the food industry in particular, limiting use of plastics and packaging, controlling energy and water consumption, lowering carbon emissions during transportation and distribution and ending harmful farming practices all require big commitments and big changes in manufacturing processes and infrastructure. Encouragingly, an Edelman survey of industry leaders in 2020 identified a shift away from begrudging compliance towards striving to 'do good' with 55% of business leaders surveyed reporting increased investments in environmental sustainability processes and procedures.
At Naturen we were keen to know how this shift to 'do good' might be reflected amongst our own projects in different parts of the world and how our partners are managing to meet the challenge of sustainability. From Serbia to Ecuador we've found lots of examples of innovations in farming and production practices.
Both our fruit projects in the Italian Piedmont Valley and the Trento Valley practice circular waste recycling. This is where fruit fibres from production are sold for biogas production and fruit stones or kernels are sold for combustion. The project also has a specialised production line in place to obtain the maximum fiber from the fruit which, in turn, contains the best nutrients.
At our blueberry project in Quebec production residues of settling sludge and leaves are taken by a firm that specializes in the recovery of fertilizing residual materials.
Focusing on biodiversity, our strawberry project in Spain has launched a new internal bee keeping project to breed and develop their own bees. With more than 300 hives the idea is to control the pollination of the crops and achieve a more efficient natural cycle.
In Ecuador our project encourages biodiversity development by implementing natural vegetal barriers between the fields growing bananas and retaining forest tree areas within the farms. Here they produce their own compost using banana peels and natural microorganisms with garlic and onions grown to repel insects.
A number of our projects boast a high percentage of local raw material supply. In the Trento Valley 80% of raw materials come from less than 250km and in Canada all raw material is located within 45km of the factory so transporting the material requires little fuel.
We also found that nearly all of our projects have strategies in place to reduce water consumption. In Spain this means investment in the implementation of humidity sensors for precision irrigation. In Quebec it means the recovery and re-use of defrosted water from the freezing tunnel and the installation of a pressure washing system. In Spain our strawberry project is even working on the development of new berry varieties which require less water consumption during production.
With global events driving energy prices ever upwards it's little wonder that we found all of our projects innovating in this area. In sunny Spain the project is able to generate 31% of its energy requirement through solar panels. In Piedmont the factory requires 1.2m k/cal hourly but is able to recover 40% of this through a co-generator - a unit that generates electricity and useful heat at the same time. The Serbian project has constructed a solar power plant with a capacity of about 650kWp and in Ecuador they are using natural gas to save more than 15400 gallons of diesel per month.
If only Hoylake were sunnier we could turn the roof at Hilbre Business Park into a a solar panel field - like they did in Serbia!
Published on: May 10, 2023