Dawn Meats cuts plastic use by 15% saving 880 tonnes annually

Pictured: Niall Browne and Gill Higgins of Dawn Meats

The meat company has also seen a 49% cut in Scope 1 and 2 emissions and a 15% reduction in Scope 3 emissions intensity



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30 November 2023

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Dawn Meats has saved 885 tonnes of plastic in the last two years as part of a 15% reduction in plastic use across its rigid trays, films and flexibles used for retail packaging.

The figure is equivalent to about 100 million plastic carrier bags and the company’s new plastic reduction measures will ultimately save a total of more than 800 tonnes a year.

The details are contained in a new sustainability update from the leading meat processor, which also shows that Dawn Meats has achieved a reduction of 49% in location-based Scope 1 and 2 emissions and 15% in Scope 3 emissions intensity. Overall, the company has achieved a 9.6% reduction in total emissions.

Dawn Meats is now powering all of its sites using 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.

Efforts to reduce carbon emissions included procuring 100% renewable electricity for all Ireland and UK sites, advancing on-site renewable energy generation, upgrading refrigeration systems, using lower carbon fuels for equipment and boilers, adopting renewable thermal energy sources, and implementing lean management principles in daily operations.

Dawn Meats achieved water savings of 22,000 m3 annually, totaling 3.1 million m3 since 2016. In energy, the company now sources 100% renewable energy, saving 2.8m kWh yearly, equivalent to powering 20,875 homes for a year. Waste management targets include increasing recycling to 60% by 2030, with current achievements at 51%. The lean approach adopted since 2016 has led to zero waste being sent to landfill, and food waste from production is consistently below 1%. Notably, the company achieved a 15% reduction in plastic use, saving 885 tonnes, and introduced a new vacuum packaging solution for mince, reducing plastic by 55% and increasing product shelf life by 25%.

In farming, Dawn Meats aims to reduce Scope 3 emissions intensity by 28% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050. From 2016 to 2022, a 15% reduction in emissions intensity was achieved through measures like genetic advancements, optimised feed conversion, and reduced cattle age at slaughter. The company actively engages 500,000 cattle in emissions monitoring programmes, reaching 49% of its cattle supply, and shares knowledge with 5,000 farmers through initiatives like Farm Green. Dawn Meats is developing a model for bespoke carbon footprints, verified by the Carbon Trust, and discloses sustainability figures to the CDP, ranking among A-list companies. 

Niall Browne, chief executive, 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 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 to do this.”



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