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Balancing spuds and sustainability

McCain Foods Ballarat aims high with water use reduction targets smashed McCain Foods Ballarat has achieved an improvement of 20% in its water use efficiency over the past 12 months – smashing the plant’s 2% target set in the recently released Be Good. Do Good. sustainability report.

McCain Foods’ focus on Growing Green and Golden stems from the company’s vision towards a low-carbon economy in Australia and New Zealand by concentrating on emissions, waste, investment in renewable electricity and more sustainable use of packaging and water. 

2020 has also seen the Ballarat facility progress on its waste minimisation and recovery plan, initiate a Global Energy Efficiency Program and begin work on Australia’s largest behind-the-meter renewable energy system – supporting the business’ commitment to making smarter decisions to reduce its impact on the environment in Australia.

While Ballarat is not currently a water-stressed area, McCain Foods Ballarat Potato Plant Manager Rodney McLaren believed the plant could achieve more ambitious targets and wanted to take it one step further for himself and his team.

“We saw there were multiple opportunities across the site to minimise water usage, and we wanted to motivate the teams to do all that they could, leading us to set a further 3% water reduction goal for 2021 and beyond,” said Mr McLaren.

During this time, the site has also implemented a zero-waste methodology, identifying a set of principles on waste prevention throughout the production process. This prompted a redesign of the resource life cycle to ensure all inputs were being fully utilised, which has resulted in a 40% reduction in waste.

Energy use reduction has been a priority for the Ballarat Potato plant for many years due to the sheer volume of potatoes processed. McCain leaders saw strong opportunity in driving improvement through the McCain Global Resource Efficient Operations program. The Program drives operational practices at each McCain plant to identify viable energy efficiency and decarbonisation technologies to ensure best practice.

“There have been numerous energy efficiency studies under the Program now completed on our site and we have found a range of energy saving opportunities here with some already applied which is great to see. The plant upgrade completed a couple of years ago certainly helped us drive this most recent increase in efficiencies,” said Mr McLaren.

This innovative Program has also seen the start of the installation of 17,000 solar panels at the plant, creating Australia’s largest ‘behind-the-meter’ renewable energy system, which will eventually reduce the facility’s energy consumption by 39 per cent. In addition, a cogeneration anaerobic digester will be installed to repurpose food scraps into biogas to generate energy, reducing the site’s reliance on natural gas by 16 per cent.

For more information:
Marnie McGuigan
Tel: +61 448 917 645

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