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Cultivate – Sustainable Growth

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The concept behind ‘Cultivate’ was to introduce a behaviour-change programme and dramatically reduce the business’ resource consumption and waste production. Inspiring those at the ‘sharp’ end of the business to do more with less, ‘Cultivate’ has transformed our approach to waste, delivering outstanding results. Whilst maintaining zero waste-to-landfill as a baseline, a key objective is waste reduction and reuse opportunities through improved efficiencies and changing our standard system and process . Since Cultivate’s launch, we have seen a 50% reduction in waste onsite with over 70% of previously considered waste product going on for positive re-use to benefit the community.

The concept behind the ‘Cultivate’ campaign was to introduce a behaviour change programme and dramatically reduce the business’ resource consumption and waste production, bringing immediate business benefits including:

As part of the Project Management aspect of the campaign we ensure that our communications include infographics, videos, artistic design and visual interpretations. Bright, bold and frequent communications have ensured we get the message across to our internal stakeholders, we want them to feel part of the campaign and understand how their actions have made a positive impact. Our communications challenge any preconceptions that sustainability is lacklustre and tedious and engage stakeholders on all levels.

Working in partnership with Veris we carried out their 4D Cycle process, Discovery, Dream, Design & Deliver, which identified both the ‘sustainability gap’ at Melton Foods in relation to customer alignment and consumer expectations and the opportunities available for waste reduction and reuse. The process also surveyed stakeholders to identify any gaps in relation to internal communications and engagement with regards to sustainability and targets within the company. The process is detailed as below:

Discovery – During discovery both a waste and engagement audit are used to identify the ‘gaps’.

Dream – During the dream stage we bring stakeholders into the journey via a series of roundtables to discuss Discovery results and to glean insight into the best process and tools to use for optimum engagement impacts.

Design – creation of a bespoke sustainability brand (Cultivate) to act as the vehicle for communications.

Delivery – Launch of the Cultivate campaign and onward management of improvement programmes to deliver the objectives.

Whilst strategic direction from the top provides a clear vision for the Cultivate strategy, for the strategy to truly embed we recognise the need to distribute responsibility across the business. We do this via the employee Cultivate Team, spearheading the strategy and ‘tapping’ in to key internal stakeholders that are advocates that can help support and educate peers to accelerate the campaign impact.

Monthly reviews track the operational environmental targets of 80% positive use month on month, relative waste levels, donation projects and reuse figures. The people survey is conducted twice per annum to track engagement improvements.

Engagement activity KPIs are reported monthly, detailing number of workshop/surgery sessions, participation levels and production line segregation performance (the performance levels of the segregation of waste on each production line within the factory).

Both financial and non-financial reports are distributed from the Hygiene Manager weekly and monthly to the group’s Sustainability Manager, with regular reviews and knowledge transfer incorporated into the monthly management meeting. These reports are also shared via quarterly updates to the Samworth Brothers Board of Directors.

The Cultivate management is pro-active in terms of identifying peak production periods where KPIs may not be met due to increase in production pressures, such as Christmas. Therefore we recognise that we have to offer our employees more support via engagement activities that rewards individuals for their collective effort to go the extra mile. More than just a box ticking waste programme, Cultivate not only delivers best practice resource management, but excels, offering added value in staff engagement, community outreach and supplier and customer collaboration.

Our improved internal system and process ensures unavoidable food waste is re-used; via animal feed, finished products/over runs to community groups in need and the remaining truly inedible element sent to Anaerobic Digestion (the break down of biodegradable material creating Energy), totalling over 800 tonnes since January 2016, saving approximately 800 tonnes of carbon.

Enabling further carbon reductions, Melton has increased on-site storage by 15%, reducing the need for third-party storage and transfers.

Relative waste is down 8% in recent months due to the Cultivate campaign, promoting ‘re-thinking’ waste and moving items from a waste stream into a new product stream via reuse. The percentage of waste per tonne of product has been reduced by 17% since December ’15.

We have also been working with Toast Ale an artisan brewery and social enterprise to remove all bread waste from our operation by finding a closed loop opportunity that delivers real value by eliminating food waste.

So we now send our bread ends to Toast Ale who use them to brew bottled beer with all their profits being donated to the Charity ‘Feedback’ who fight Food Waste on a global scale. So far over 13,500 bottles of beer have been brewed and sold using our waste bread ends! Alongside this initiative we have a  growing community surplus food donation network where all our ‘overs’ that cannot be sold are donated daily via a number of local charities for use in our local community. We recently supported the launch of Plan Zheroes in Leicester by donating our surplus sandwiches for the event.

Whilst concentrating on our immediate (Scope 1) impact, we understand a significant amount of our impact comes from the supply chain. To deliver substantial reduction and ensure our environmental agenda is closely aligned with customer expectation, nurturing relationships with our supplier network bringing about collective footprint reduction is one of Cultivate’s key objectives.

A supplier mapping exercise to identify key ‘hotspot’ areas has been underway this year to drive our long term relative waste reduction target of between 5-10% year on year. Our top 10 strategic suppliers have been identified by impact – both on a volume and wastage perspective. By cascading the Cultivate principles down to our suppliers and opening up collaborative opportunities we have been able to identify various opportunities to actively reduce food waste at source.

One such successful example has been with our mozzarella supplier, we have actively worked together to ensure zero food waste being generated with this ingredient in our sandwiches and panini products.  The hotspot mapping identified that in one particular line there was an excess of cheese cut offs created during production. We reviewed our process with a time and motion study and identified that if the mozzarella could be supplied in a smaller size from the standard sizing then there would be no excess trim. Working with our supplier this has now been in place since early this year taking the food wastage on this key ingredient down to zero.

The Cultivate campaign has without doubt united the business internally on the sustainability agenda helping staff feel connected to the outcomes their actions produce. With the monthly peer-to-peer nomination, the iCultivate award rewards and recognises commitment to the campaign, for both actions at work or home life.

From the recent employee survey, 100% of employees now feel Melton Foods are completely or quite committed to reducing environmental impact and an increase of 24% of employees now feel comfortable in explaining what sustainability means to them at work in their role and also in their home environment.

Whilst considerable progress had been made to ‘green’ Melton previously, with the notable achievement of zero landfill, we were keen to explore how we could further reduce our environmental impact by going beyond zero waste to landfill. We recognised that if CSR is about minimising negative and maximising positive environmental and social impacts, then stakeholder engagement is one of the core skills and key activities which enable this to happen successfully and effectively. We therefore put this at the heart of our approach to drive new system and change across the business. We also recognised that to really resonate and impact we not only had to involve our employees but also our key external stakeholders ie customers to ensure a truly robust and authentic strategy. Our strategy is about making Green normal, its about behaviour change, its not a sustainability programme but rather a focus on Green becoming part of day to day life.

Whilst striving to continually improve our own environmental performance, we are also committed to developing a strong supply chain partnership with our primary customer, Waitrose, and as such wanted to ensure our improvement programme would resonate with all stakeholders. Customer endorsement of the programme, as reinforced by their attendance at launch provided further impetus to the campaign whilst providing opportunity for Waitrose management to engage directly with supply chain workers and see the new strategy in action through a 360 tour of the factory.

Building trust with our stakeholders is very important, aided by understanding their viewpoints and motivations and this is the key driver of operational results . Our entire organisation as a whole appreciates the contribution stakeholder engagement gives to overall business success.

A key part of our strategy is the focus on people. By driving behavioural change within our factory we see a more sustained impact. The focus on people rather than technology has made being green part of daily life at Melton Foods driving change and embedding it.

Key to the success of the campaign were the below:

Consensus – confirming alignment and agreement among internal stakeholders on business objectives of the programme and clarity of departments and individual roles to assign accountability.

Capacity – ensuring there is enough resource and time allocated to the programme to execute effectively.

Commitment – a long term approach with necessary investments helps to drive momentum and ultimately success.

Champion – Recruiting ‘accelerators’ across the business, helps to build from the inside out which when matched with direction from senior leadership promotes and inspires participation in the project.