Niall BrowneGill Higgins 1

Source: Dawn Meats

Dawn Meats CEO Niall Browne and sustainability director Gill Higgins said the company was taking sustainability aims seriously

Dawn Meats has saved 885 tonnes of plastic in the past two years as part of a 15% reduction in plastic use across its retail packaging.

The Irish meat giant has cut the use of the equivalent of 100 million plastic bags’ worth of packaging via changes to its rigid trays, films and flexibles.

Key changes include the adoption of a new vacuum packaging solution for mince, which uses 55% less plastic and increases product shelf life by 25% – thus also helping to reduce food waste, Dawn said.

The supplier has also set a target of ensuring it uses an average of 30% recycled content across all plastic by 2025. It said all its rigid trays already used a recycled content of over 50% and all the film lids used on modified atmosphere packaging now had 30% recycled content.

Ultimately, employing these new measures would help the company save over 800 tonnes of plastic per year, the supplier added.

The processor also set a target of the plastic it uses being 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, though this strategy had been “challenging” in the UK, where Dawn Meats operates as Dunbia, as infrastructure to recycle flexible films had yet to be introduced.

The details of its progress were contained in a sustainability update from the processor, which also showed Dawn Meats had reduced location-based Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 49% and Scope 3 emissions intensity by 15%.

“We are serious about reaching our ambitious targets and I’m pleased to say we are making real progress in this regard,” said Gill Higgins, sustainability director at Dawn Meats.

Overall, the company has achieved a total emissions reduction of 9.6% over the past two years.

Some of the measures taken to achieve this reduction include procuring 100% of electricity requirements across all sites in the UK and Ireland from renewable sources and progressing towards on-site renewable energy generation using solar and wind.

The company has also upgraded equipment and boilers to burn lower carbon fuels, has upgraded refrigeration systems and reduced fugitive (leaked) emissions, and employed lean management principles in daily operations.

It is also reusing or recycling 51% of all waste, excluding that which is sent for energy generation.

The company has a target of reducing Scope 1 and 2 absolute emissions by 59% by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2040, and Scope 3 emissions intensity by 28% per tonne of finished product by 2030 with a plan to reach net zero by 2050.

The Scope 3 target relates to emissions from the sourcing of live cattle and sheep from 40,000 regular farmer suppliers across Ireland and the UK, and other meat products, both of which account for 70% of Dawn Meats’ total emissions.

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