Carbery Group Ireland Advance their Responsible Plastic Actions
Carbery Group is a multi-national food and ingredient business with manufacturing sites in Ireland, UK, US and Asia. The Group started life as a farming dairy cooperative in west Cork in the 1960’s and is now recognised as a leading international manufacturer of speciality food ingredients, flavouring systems and as an award-winning cheese producer. Heritage is a cornerstone of the business and ownership remains with four Irish dairy co- operatives. Today the group employs almost 900 people, and manufacture from 12 facilities worldwide, including Ireland, UK, Italy, USA, Brazil and Thailand.
Carbery Group is committed to sustainable practice from beginning to end, including the 1200 dairy farmers supplying high quality milk all the way through to the delivery of consumer-packaged cheeses, protein powders and speciality goods on international markets. Reducing the environmental footprint as much as possible is a key objective of the Group and this includes recent and ongoing activities for plastic reduction and management. Plastic comes in many shapes and sizes and performs many functions. A major challenge for
the food sector is the very limited availability of food contact packaging that both meets the regulatory and marketing functional needs as well as addressing the need of a circular economy.
To help organise and distil the total plastics used at Carbery Group, RPM team assisted with a project focused on the major production facility at Ballineen in West Cork. Plastic awareness training was delivered by RPM across the key departments and plastic was placed as a key area of investigation in the Sustainability Team.
A plastic indexing exercise was then carried out that categorised and quantified plastics by type, use pattern, single use, multi-use, polymer type and post use fate. Categorization and quantification allow improved understanding of scale, prioritisation and focus. This led to a better ability to identify areas where reduction of certain types of plastic could be achieved, improved segregation of waste plastics could be considered and dialogue with packaging designers and customers could achieve more circular (less plastic, more recyclable, recycled content) approaches to packaging design. The project was part funded by Enterprise Ireland under their Green Start Grant which provides an incentive for businesses to advance environmental and sustainability actions. Plastic is a one of the specific action areas. https://www.enterprise- ireland.com/en/funding-supports/company/esetablish-sme-funding/greenstart.html.
Key outcomes included identifying new areas of potential plastic use and reduction such as laboratory plastics, design specifics of microfilm packaging and trials that will test recycled
plastic within the polymer feedstock.