28th March 2011

New project aims to help cut utility bills for processors

A new report which could help processors shave up to 15% off their annual utility bills has just been published by Quality Meat Scotland.

The new series of guides to control and reduce resource use at meat plants is the latest part of a project to improve profitability and generate environmental benefits throughout the Scottish red meat processing sector

An independent report prepared for QMS, HCC and EBLEX found that managing water and energy is still in its infancy in most of the plants surveyed, and compared to sectors such as the automotive industry there is still a considerable amount that could be achieved.

Christine Walsh from MLCSL Consulting, who prepared the report, said: “Water is closely linked with energy consumption because potentially one third of energy required by a processing plant is used to heat water. Looking at this positively it is obvious that implementing an environmental management system will yield major cost reductions.

“There is a lot of opportunity to save money. This has been proved by those companies who have embarked on this adventure.

“One company stated that by purely concentrating on their water use they are saving £20,000 per annum. This was achieved using simple housekeeping procedures such as repairing leaks, turning off taps and having release grips on hoses.

“By sub-metering and reviewing further the hot water usage a meat plant can break down where they are using a lot of water and make effective improvements. Reducing hot water also impacts on effluent which is extremely volume dependent.

“The average cost of hot water per tonne is approximately £10. Therefore if a meat plant is using the mid-abattoir average of 50 tonnes of hot water per day this could be equivalent to £500 per day or £125,000 per year.

“By reducing usage by 10% a £12,500 annual saving on hot water alone could be achieved. This is a conservative estimate and it is believed that some of the larger companies could actually save over £25,000 on hot water alone.”

The new guides, which have been published at www.qmscotland.co.uk, give processors practical and straightforward advice on the four main aspects of resource use and waste: environmental management, energy use, water use and effluent disposal.

Andy McGowan, Head of Industry Development for QMS, said: “Stronger prices for producers mean that profit margins at the processing stage are being squeezed so it’s of critical importance for companies to see where they can increase income, improve efficiency and cut costs.

“We’ve already seen how work to increase carcase usage can help improve profitability. In Scotland’s case the “Fifth Quarter” project to rekindle the skills required by processing staff to recover offal saw a £15.6 million improvement over two years. We’ve now got to see how careful environmental management can both drive down costs for processors as well as benefit the environment.

“Processing cattle and sheep is an energy intensive business, but it’s key that we understand where energy is being used and where waste is being produced so we can work to bring down both.”

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