Our Focus on Sustainability
Production can be very resource intensive. We use a lot of water, gas and energy, and we produce a considerable amount of waste. Challenging ourselves and our suppliers to minimize the resources we use, and to find useful or recyclable homes for the waste we can’t eliminate, is very important at SoulGrade.
By constantly recording our consumption and impact, and their trends, we can understand our progress and help us to grow with sustainability firmly in our sights.
We’ve highlighted some of our initiatives below.
Meters, meters everywhere! We keep a record of our water use during each production batch, reading each meter. With each consecutive production run we have slowly but continuously improved from a ratio of 10:1 units of water per unit of packaged SoulWater to where we currently stand today at 6:1, with a target of 5:1 for 2018 (always set goals). We’ve also invested in recovering wastewater from our water treatment facility to use for cleaning tanks and floors.
DRY WASTE (packaging, consumables, etc)
There are some easy day-to-day wins in this area - We have structured training and awareness of sorting and separation of recyclable materials for staff, we put pressure on suppliers to reduce use of non recyclable packaging (a big part of this was plastic shipping wrap) and full recycling of all products and food waste in our facilities.
In addition, we looked at our suppliers who provide us with contaminated plastic waste and have sourced a chemical drum repatriation scheme to repatriate used chemical drums. This allows re-use of the plastic drums themselves and reduces the potential impact of concentrate chemicals in general waste. We also repatriate the pallets the chemicals are supplied on with the return. We are not financially incentivised to do this and pay no deposits on containers or pallets.
All our glass bottles are delivered on re-usable packaging. Everything from the pallet to the layer sheets and top are fully re-usable. These are returned to Ball, our bottle manufacturer on a return leg of the delivery of new bottles to us. We also transport empty bottles without external plastic wrapping. This reduces our demand for wooden pallets and a huge amount of cardboard and plastic wrap. Our increased output and better forecasting with each year has allowed us to increase the number of pallets delivered per load, reducing the carbon footprint of haulage.
SoulWater is filled into glass bottles which are infinitely recyclable in as little as 60 days from fill (according to the bottle manufacturers). We have converted to metal caps which are 10% lighter than the previous type.
For packaging, our retail boxes are paperboard rather than corrugated. Pine trees, a renewable resource, are harvested from sustainable managed forest, renewable energy used to fuel our mills making virgin paperboard, virgin board is used to create packaging material, after use packaging is recycled to make recycled board, fibers can be recycled up to 7 times. Paperboard produced by Graphic Packaging International meets the requirements of both the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). This ensures that our material is sourced from known and legal sources. Both schemes integrate the growing and harvesting of trees with the protection of biodiversity and water quality. These boxes are significantly thinner so we can get more on each pallet of incoming materials.
During the pack process our new tank washer and CIP unit allow us to reuse chemicals and water multiple times until it requires replacement. The CIP unit dynamically assesses conductivity to return fluids to either a water tank, a caustic tank or an acid tank for reuse.
LOGISTICSMoving ever increasing volumes of SoulWater around can be labour (and energy intensive), we operate 2 x Renault Masters which have arguably the best payload of any 3.5 tonne rated goods vehicle. This means we can load more of our product onto each truck, therefore fitting on more accounts per load. As we can do this, we increase our fuel efficiency and make less return trips. We also run a smaller van for the lighter loads to reduce the need for 3rd party couriers and HGVs. There is one gas forklift across all of our sites, efforts are made to consolidate stock movements with delivering materials between the sites and to help maximize loads.
In transit we limit our journeys into the Congestion Zone as much as possible, currently only scheduling 2 vans on 2 days per week.
For additional materials we source our pallets from a company that isn’t allowed to store them on-site, thereby reducing the amount of wood that may enter landfill. The cardboard sheets we receive from other vendors we receive stock from is recycled as packaging material to send on our products.
We can do so much more! The realities of completing each Production run requires, time, skills and focus are all dynamics that we must manage over the coming years to achieve continual improvement.