Caring for the Environment

Environment

Here at Nairn’s we care passionately about the food we produce and use only the very best natural ingredients.  For that reason, we are equally passionate about caring for the environment and ensuring that, in all aspects of our business, we minimise the impact on our natural resources.   Not only does this protect the long-term quality of our products, but we believe it also benefits our employees, consumers and local community.

Every step in the production of our oaty goods is carefully scrutinised – from the way the oats are grown, to the bakery itself, all the way through to ensuring our packaging is sustainable and ethically produced.   Nairn’s Environmental Policy is our stated commitment to responsible management and we continually review every aspect of our business to make sure we are as efficient and effective as we can possibly be.   The below will tell you a little of how we are doing our bit to help protect our planet.

Our products

  • Oats & the Land

Nairn’s are all about oats, so it will come as no surprise to hear that we insist on the best.  Most of our oats are grown in the Scottish Borders where the climate is perfect for slowly ripening the grain and the crops are kept free from insecticides.  This allows the oats to thrive naturally and encourages soil fertility, which is another of our guiding principals.

In support of this, we are active members of the Soil Association, a charity founded in 1946 by a group of farmers, scientists and nutritionists and which now campaigns for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.  All of the oats in our Organic Oatcakes are grown on farmland approved by the Soil Association and you will see their logo prominently displayed on our Organic packs. 

 

  • Sustainable Palm Fruit Oil

The oil we choose for our oaty recipes is palm fruit oil which contains a number of fats, vitamins and nutrients but no trans-fatty acids, making it a perfect fit with our product ethos.  Naturally, we insist that our palm fruit oil comes from sustainable sources and, in support of this, we are proud to say that we’re now members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The RSPO is working to make the World’s primary resources of vegetable oils more sustainable and sets environmental and social standards for sustainable palm oil production.  

Strict audits and checks are completed before any oil gets the RSPO’s seal of approval and we are happy to comply with the required supply chain systems. To date over two million tonnes of sustainable palm oil has been produced and the numbers are growing rapidly.

Check our progress at www.rspo.org 

 

Our Packaging

Our environmental approach to packaging is focused on waste reduction and carbon management,  the overall objective being to optimise our packaging without compromising its efficiency.  With that in mind, Packaging Manager, Gordon Walker has worked with our suppliers to reduce the weight of our biscuit and oatcake cartons by an average of 2g each, which has a significant impact on the overall weight of a pallet.

All of the cartons for our products are made from board produced from sustainable managed forests and are approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), while our outer cases are made from 70%-75% recycled materials.  

 

Our Premises

Minimising our impact on the environment has always been a corporate objective and so it was a natural progression for the company to work towards ISO 14001 Environmental Management Certification which we are proud to have achieved in June 2011.

Two key objectives at the start of the process were to reduce energy consumption by 5% and reduce waste to landfill by 15%.

Both objectives were met within months of starting the project and, as with most initiatives at Nairn’s, involved ideas, contributions and active participation from everyone, across the entire business, all of which were channelled through a specially appointed Green Team, with representatives from every department.

  • Reducing energy consumption

Bill Bolan, Production Services Supervisor is our Green Team leader and shares his thoughts on the early success in reducing energy consumption: “Initiating an environmental management plan means that we are measuring energy consumption properly and are therefore able to make informed decisions about where we can make savings.  

“The most important result of having the standard in place is that it means we can measure what we are doing so that we can work on ways to improve further.  For example, we now take half hourly metre readings to map our energy consumption – understanding the peaks and troughs allows us to do more to control it.  We have also decided to work to Carbon Trust standards to reduce our energy efficiency even further year on year.”

  • Reducing waste to landfill

When Russell Clink, our Factory Services Manager was asked to spearhead our campaign to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill, it was a subject to which he had already given a great deal of thought.  Says Russell, “The real challenge is not just in reducing what we send to landfill, but actually starting from the top and reducing the amount of waste we generate as a business. “

As a start, the company addressed what Russell describes as the “easy wins” – paper and cardboard. By focusing on these two elements and ensuring that both were recycled by the most efficient means possible, the company made significant inroads in reducing waste and in controlling the costs associated with it.  From this promising beginning, Russell turned his attention to the wooden pallets we use in our business and began to work with the William Tracey Group, one of the UK’s leading recycling and resource management companies.  As a result, our recycling programme accelerated and we have already exceeded our waste to landfill reduction target, with a commitment to set increasingly ambitious targets in the future.  

One of the most rewarding results of the project , came out of one of the biggest challenges – disposing of wrapped organic waste.  Russell explains, “This used to go to landfill, because there was no other way to dispose of it.  However, there have been real advances in the recycling industry and this material now goes to an anaerobic digestor.  It is mechanically stripped down and the organic matter goes into another digestor which creates  methane; this, in turn, is used to generate electricity and that goes straight into the national grid.  That’s the great thing about recycling – you see real results.”

  • Carbon Management

Cutting carbon emissions as part of the fight against climate change should be a key priority for SME’s- it's all about getting your own house in order and leading by example. (Richard Rugg, Head of Public Sector, Carbon Trust )

After achieving ISO 14001 Accreditation in 2011, the next step for Nairn’s was to develop a Carbon Management Plan.  In launching the project, Mark Laing, our Managing Director made a clear statement of the Company’s objectives, saying: “This Plan commits us to the practical target of a 5% reduction in our CO2 emissions by 2015 and provides a clear demonstration that we are prepared to contribute to national commitments to reduce CO2 emissions. Over the forthcoming years we will report our progress on a regular basis and demonstrate our commitment by turning this plan into reality.” 

In subsequent months, working with the Carbon Trust, Nairn’s developed a five-year carbon management plan which was closely integrated with the bespoke Environmental Management System which had been refined as part of our ISO accreditation.  The plan not only allows us to identify opportunities in waste and energy reduction, with corresponding timescales, but it also provides for more accurate reporting in future and helps us to set ongoing objectives and targets for reduction.

This commitment to continuous improvement ensures that minimising environmental impact is at the forefront of our minds whenever we review our processes or introduce a new procedure to our business.  For example, when the decision was made to replace the computers within our business, one of the guiding principles in our procurement process was that they should be environmentally-friendly.  This proactive approach also extends to our staff,  who are practically engaged with our environmental policies on a daily basis - ensuring that waste materials are placed in the correct recycling bins and switching off lights and equipment when they are not in use, while carbon management training has become a regular feature at our staff reviews.

Nairn’s are active members of the Green Club run by Glasgow Caledonian University and, through this, participate in a programme of visits to other companies across the Central Belt of Scotland, where we exchange notes and ideas on environmental issues and reducing our carbon footprint.  We were also very happy to host a recent visit from a group of Edinburgh University students who carried out an environmental survey of our business and made a series of recommendations for reducing our impact on the environment.  As a business, we believe that we have a collective responsibility towards good environmental stewardship and we are always delighted to share views and ideas with other, like-minded companies and organisations.

Nairn’s was one of the first ten SMEs in Scotland to develop a Carbon Management Plan in conjunction with the Carbon Trust and this was recognised by the Trust with the award of a certificate to the company in June 2012.  The certificate was presented to our Environmental Manager, Alan Drummond by John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment & Sustainable Growth at a special ceremony in Edinburgh.Alan Drummond Carbon Trust Award

Bill Bolan sums up the Nairn’s approach to our environmental responsibilities:   “As a company we have always taken our environmental impact seriously, but the process involved in achieving ISO 14001certification has given us a structure, a rigour and a clear progression plan for ongoing improvement.  Our five-year Carbon Management plan is our commitment to delivering that improvement.”