Economy

Halon Mon salt pouches

How Halen Môn are combining traditional craft with innovative technology

Halen Môn sea salt is made from the clean, clear sea waters of the Menai Strait that surround the island of Anglesey. The end result? A product which can sit among the great Foods including Champagne, Parma Ham and Melton Mowbray Pork Pies.

The company was set up because founders Alison and David Lea-Wilson fell in love with the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where they are situated. It makes sense then that they are committed to protecting the environment in any way possible.

In 2014 Halen Môn was awarded Protected Designated of Origin (PDO) status by the European Commission, protecting the products under the Halen Môn name. Halen Môn is the first Welsh PDO. The protected status accolade legally recognises Halen Môn as having unique qualities due to its geographical location as well as the way it is made.

Halen Môn sell their award-winning sea salts all over the world to famous chefs and restaurants, but they believe the by-products – or as they prefer to call them ‘co-products,’ – of the salt-making process, are just as important. They are sold for uses as varied as Venus Flytrap food, fuel for model steam trains, cigar humidors, and supplements for race horses and even racing camels.

Environmental commitments include utilising the solar energy generated on site, planting a wildflower meadow to encourage wildlife, recycling old equipment to make business signage and using an old telephone box to grow chilli and tomato plants. The ‘Saltcote’ which houses their office and production, is clad in Welsh larch, which is baked using an innovative process at low temperatures for long term almost maintenance-free life.

Staff innovation includes a ‘good ideas bonus’ which sees employees receive a bonus in exchange for inventive ideas on how business performance may be improved. Recently, one employee suggested the removal of an electric water pump in favour of gravity doing the work. Key to the process is that that seawater is heated under a vacuum and the resulting steam is collected and turned into hot water. This then goes through a heat exchanger so the hot water warms the incoming seawater reducing energy consumption significantly. 40 photovoltaic solar panels were also installed onsite to offset carbon emissions in its ongoing campaign to reduce energy consumption per kilo of salt produced.

In 2016, Cynnal Cymru was pleased to present Halen Môn with the Sustain Wales Award for Sustainable Business, in recognition of their impressive commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, energy and water consumption whilst preserving and enhancing local biodiversity.

The North Wales company’s core belief is that ‘small changes add up’ – and its continuous commitment to sustainable growth and the environment have helped to improve its commercial performance, culminating in Halen Môn receiving The Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development in 2017.

Innovation Shorts: How Brother is protecting 36,780 trees through recycling

Brother Industries is a world leading innovator in printer technology and solutions, with its UK operations headed in Manchester. The company has been heralded since 2011 for winning many coveted industry awards is areas such as design, innovation, marketing success, people development and sustainability.

As a world-wide brand, Brother Industries has embraced sustainability by implementing environmental stewardship measures and encouraging behaviour change with its staff to reduce consumption and end waste to landfill; aspiring to maximise positive impacts for local communities, employees, stakeholders and the environment. Brother Industries works under The 5Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Reform, Recycle, which help the company strive for the most innovative, creative and ambitious ways to do more with less and reduce environmental impact (read Brother Industries UK “Community Engagement Report 14/15” here).

The Community Engagement Report highlights many successes through the 14/15 financial year, including a 38% reduction in energy usage in 4 years and reducing its carbon footprint by 18% in the same period. As a printing technology company, Brother Industries UK largest stream of waste is paper use. In just one year the company has slashed its paper use by 32%, saving 132,00 sheets of paper.

Brother’s manufacturing plant based in Ruabon, Wrexham, is an accolade to its environmental objective, where they recycle or reuse 100% of toner cartridges and ink cartridges sent back to the facility. It is an encouraging and innovative new way of doing business, a scheme which is of no cost to customers.

The benefits of recycling are twofold: not only do the returned cartridges help conserve resources, but Brother Industries makes a donation to Cool Earth every time a cartridge is recycled. The donation enables this charity to carry out vital work to safeguard the most threatened rainforests around the world through working with over 100 rainforest communities. Through the 144,446 toner cartridges and 5,353 inkjet cartridges donated and recycled in 14/15, Brother Industries converted this to a donation of £3065 to Cool Earth, enabling the protection of the equivalent of 61 acres of forest (36,780 trees!).

As Brother Industries comes to the end of another financial year, we wait in anticipation for further success stories from their pioneering North Wales factory.

AWARDS

  • Queens Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development 2011-2016
  • Buyers Laboratory’s 2015 Outstanding Achievement for Energy Efficiency Award
  • CIO Tech Company of the Year 2014
  • PC Pro Best Printer Brand 2014: Innovative and reliable products
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Manufacturing Excellence Award: Hexagon Metrology Award for Sustainable Manufacturing 2014
people at networking event

How to Innovate Our Way out of a Looming Ecological Crisis

Rare is the platform where you are genuinely among friends. Particularly when that platform debates thorny issues such as eco-design, industrial ecology, waste, the circular economy and sharing. But let there be no doubt, Cynnal Cymru’s ‘Show and tell’ event was precisely that; an opportunity to share ideas and push, pull, knead and shape new thinking in the perfect environment. I was delighted to be sharing this particular platform with Creative Director Chris Carpenter of Stills branding – a true advocate of the need for change – and the passionate and knowledgeable Dr Frank O’Connor. Our presentations were the same yet different; how to innovate our way out of a looming ecological crisis, how to conceptualise our use of resources with greater wisdom and foresight, how to spread a message so crucial to our shared futures.

It is this latter theme that I’d like to pick up on. As the General Manager of an industrial company, I regularly rub shoulders with professionals who know or care little about sustainability. The word is somehow tainted with negative connotations. For ‘sustainability’ read ‘cost’, ‘burden’, ‘workload’ or ‘idealistic’. This attitude represents a failure to understand the nature and importance of sustainability and the predicament that our current economic model leaves us in. It is also perhaps representative of endless exposure to – and the rather cynical curse of –  ‘greenwash’ by larger or rival corporations.  But to consign organisational approaches to sustainability to the (recycling) bin, is a failure to identify a rich seam of creativity and innovation that could radically change an organisation, its place in the market and its future legacy. Take eco-design and Life Cycle Assessment for instance. Using ED and LCA at Odoni-Elwell has led to several major benefits. We’ve put our processes under the microscope, eliminating areas of waste (saving money), redesigned our larger buildings and established a model for recovery of product at end of life (a recovery process that should both dispose/reuse waste appropriately and result in an ongoing relationship with our customer). But arguably the biggest thing that we’ve achieved is the knowledge that we at least are trying to do things right, even when there are times when we get things wrong.

‘Show and tell’ is a wonderful concept. Ideas. Honesty. Dialogue. I’d encourage more (all?) manufacturing organisations to get involved. There is vast potential alongside the issues. And after all; a problem shared is a problem halved.

Simon Nurse (Systems Designer and Manager at Odoni-Elwell

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