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A mighty wind

Investment in energy is yielding rewards at Liffey Meats 

Liffey Meats, headquartered in Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan, was established over 100 years ago and has grown from a traditional family butchers to become one of Ireland’s main beef producers and exporters. Sustainability is integral to all decision-making at Liffey Meats, explains environmental manager Andrew O’Brien, to ensure the company continues to grow and expand in a socially and environmentally responsible way.”

“Sustainability has been adopted through the business and each division develops actions in accordance with its local operational managers, which together ensure and promote sustainability of its entire productive system. This helps the business to develop a single culture, governed by the same set of social, sustainable and environmental values.”

Energy investment

In 2017, the company completed the construction of one of the largest lone-standing wind turbines in the country. “The 3MW wind turbine has the capability of renewably producing a large majority of our site's electrical demand, while also being able to export renewable electricity to the national grid. The remainder of the electricity required to run the factory has been certified as sourced from 100% renewable sources by our providers, Naturgy.”

Instead of using conventional fuels such as light fuel oil, diesel and gas for steam production, Liffey Meats sourced boilers that can run on the renewable fuel source, tallow. “Animal by-products from our factory are sent to a rendering plant and tallow is produced. We use the tallow to run our boilers to produce steam, creating what could be described as a circular economy.”

A heat-recovery system is in place at the Ballyjamesduff site and it works by recovering heat that is generated as a by-product by the on-site refrigeration plant. This system can raise the temperature of incoming water by up to 10oC, delivering a saving of 1.4 million kWh of energy. “This is equivalent to the electricity required to power 100 three-bedroom homes in Ireland for a full year.”

In January 2020, the company made the move from conventional LPG to 100% renewable Bio LPG from Calor Gas, which is used to power forklifts and the on-site canteen. “We estimate this will lead to a CO2 saving of almost 30 tonnes, the equivalent to 34,000 pounds of coal being burned.”

Organic paunch and waste sludge from the on-site waste water treatment plant is brought to an anaerobic digester, producing a renewable source of biogas. This biogas is burned to produce renewable electricity that is exported onto the grid.

Waste minimisation is of significant interest at Liffey Meats: “Instead of transporting liquid sludge at 4% dry solids off site, we intensely dry the sludge to approximately 35% dry solids to minimise the volume of sludge being transported. The water removed is then treated in our waste water treatment plant.” Effluent that is treated is reused to wash low-risk parts of the site, reducing the draw on the community water supply.

Future facing

As a member of Origin Green, Liffey Meats believes it must do all it can to leave the environment in a better place. “We see sustainability as a journey of continuous improvement. Before commencing any project, a review is conducted to ensure it is carried out in the most efficient way, to deliver the most effective results.”

As consumers become more aware of the carbon footprint of the products and services they buy, Andrew believes that carbon footprint data will appear on restaurant menus and food packaging. “This is where Liffey Meats will hold a competitive advantage as our beef is produced using the latest energy-efficient technology which minimises our carbon emissions.”

Sharing your sustainability achievements with your consumer is an issue that Origin Green is helping to overcome, he says. “Up until very recently, industries have found it difficult to record sustainability initiatives, tabulate reduction targets and broadcast this information to the public. Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) has carried out phenomenal work in the last number of years, promoting the sustainability initiatives Irish food and beverage manufacturers and producers have in place. The Origin Green programme provides Irish businesses with an excellent platform and toolkit to meet the evolving sustainability needs and demands of global consumer markets.”

And as to the advice he would offer, he urges his fellow makers to keep striving for further improvements. “Technology is advancing at an exponential rate. More and more energy efficient systems are coming onto the market.”  

Article appeared in issue 4, 2020

 

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