As a business, Simon Howie Foods are passionate about environmental sustainability and are proud to have a number of schemes in place in order to reduce the conservational impacts associated with the manufacture of our products. We have an environmental policy that is central to the culture of our business and all employees are actively encouraged to be an integral part of that culture.
Within our factory premises at Dunning we treat all of our water on site as opposed to discharging to soak-away. We have an on-site natural spring which provides all of our fresh water (30000 litres per day). This in effect means that we have a closed loop system, whereby we pump the water out of the ground and treat the outfall through ponds; these then support a mini nature reserve which in turn ‘scrubs’ the liquid clean before discharging to a lined Willow plantation.
Recently we were part of a case study for Central Scotland Green Network, which is the biggest ‘green space’ project in Europe, aiming to make Central Scotland a more attractive and distinctive place to live, visit and do business. Prior to that, we were a case study for Sustainable Food & Drink, a study which intended to inspire other businesses to take similar approaches and to inform interested parties, such as planning authorities, in order to encourage a supportive environment for future initiatives.
We have a low cost, zero carbon & wildlife friendly approach to our waste water treatment, which is an ecological alternative to conventional systems which use tankers to remove the waste material off site, where it is further processed.
Our ETS (Ecological Treatment System) created a habitat which supports complex food webs between a wide range of fauna (bacteria, micro-organisms, invertebrates & fungi) and flora to clean our waste water. Effluent is pumped directly from the factory and gradually allowed to seep through six different wetland cells, which are approximately 400m2 each, thus becoming progressively cleaner as it travels from the top cell to the bottom. Each individual cell supports its own habitat.
After the last cell, the water seeps through a willow soak-away which removes any final nutrients remaining and reduces the overall volume of water through evaporation and evapotranspiration. The willow is “coppiced” every year and the wood is dried and then used for a biomass boiler. Due to this system, we have no discharge from site whatsoever ensuring there is no discharge to local rivers or watercourses.
Lastly, any remaining water flows into a wetland scrape, which is the final part of the system and which allows further opportunities for evaporation and evapotranspiration due to the more open environment and vegetation. Insects, plants and trees all play their part in scrubbing and thriving on the nutrients in the effluent. (i.e. microorganisms are eaten by the insects, insects are eaten by the frogs and pond life, nutrients are absorbed by the plant life etc).
Our Carbon Footprint is also central to our business ethic and our environmental strategy for footprint reduction is something we repeatedly invest in on an annual basis in order to strive for continual improvement.
In May 2013 we installed 600 PV solar panels on the roof of our factory and warehouse to best capture as much sunshine as possible. This decision was taken for several reasons: the solar energy provided would produce financial benefits for up to 25 years, while taking as little as five years to be paid off – therefore allowing us up to 20 years of cash flow due to a reduction of energy usage.
We were particularly interested in the continued negative and very serious scientific feedback on general world-wide global warming and were desperate to try and reduce any emissions we were contributing to that effect – hence: solar power using efficient solar panels which create electricity without producing global warming pollution.
The harnessing of solar power is a reliable source of our energy needs – the rising and setting of the sun is extremely consistent although possibly in Scotland we are at a slight disadvantage in this regard! Along with reliability comes security the sun is not going to go bust; be destroyed in an earthquake or be taken over and turned into a monopoly. It should be noted also that the power provided by the sun is free thereby providing energy independence i.e. the fuel provided by the sun for our panels cannot be bought or monopolized.
The panels allow us significant operating advantages – streamlined processes due to efficient energy consumption increase productivity and profitability which, in turn, as a result of running more efficiently on solar power, keeps energy costs down. In addition to lowering our operating expenses, solar power helps insulate us as a business from volatility in the power markets including seasonal fluctuations or general price increases. Plus, the panels are low maintenance, only requiring a wipe down occasionally.
As an added and very welcome bonus to any environmental or financial advantage is the positive marketing associated with the installation. The implementation of the solar panels has allowed us to compete alongside bigger companies – it has gone a long way in helping establish us as a progressive thinker concerned with the environment.
As a business we are in undated with requests from the local community for sponsorship, raffle prizes and charitable donations. We try and support as many as possible with both donations of time and money. If you would like to contact us please email [email protected]
On a larger scale we are currently working with Launch Foods to help feed Scotland’s children – striving towards an end of goal of no kid having to go hungry in Scotland.
“We have provided 20,000 meals over the past 20 weeks for kids in communities that need our help the most and we simply couldn’t have done it without the kindness of Simon Howie Foods. Great products, great people. They give us hope, they truly do.”
Craig Johnson – Launch Foods
To learn more about Launch foods visit http://www.launchfoods.org/