OUR COMMITMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT
From its establishment in the 1970’s Walsh Mushrooms has been committed to environmental leadership and innovation. Our founder Pat Walsh led the way with the development of the satellite farm system in Ireland which brought improved efficiencies and environmental benefits to the industry. Those same innovations are now accepted practice across Europe.
OUR ENVIRONMENTAL MILESTONES
· February 2007: We replaced plastic bubble wrap with recycled paper as dividers in our trays of pre-packed mushrooms, saving 4,550 sheets per day on deliveries of mushrooms alone, that’s 1,651,650 over the course of a year!
· October 2007: We redesigned the 250g punnet to increase the number of punnets that can fit in a standard tray. This increased the tray fill by 20% and has significantly reduced the shipping and distribution of this product. We moved 785 tonnes using less food miles or the equivalent of 5,200 pallets per year, that’s 200 fully loaded articulated lorries taken off the road every year!
· July 2008: We began re-using the paper dividers that come from growers, thereby saving 1,250,000 sheets of paper annually.
· March 2009: We began recycling all used plastic trays on site either through sale for re-use, or in partnership with Philip Tyler Polymers. This amounts to 30 tonnes per annum not going to landfill. The results of our collaborative efforts are displayed in the cabinet in our Evesham site reception area.
· September 2009: Walsh Mushrooms began working in partnership with one of their growers on new technology to use incinerated spent compost to provide power for the growing of mushrooms. Whilst the initial trials on heat exchangers proved inconclusive, the data gained has been invaluable and we are currently working with the same grower on a new boiler system which will burn 40% SMC in conjunction with waste wood. If successful this trial would not only reduce the amount of SMC spread on land, but also reduce the carbon footprint of mushroom farms by almost 20%.
· July 2009: We installed inverters in our refrigeration plant to reduce our energy usage by 20%.
· July 2010: We reduced the size of tray end labels in use by 25%, thereby saving paper equivalent to 25,000 sheets of labels per annum.
· July 2011: We introduced a new shallower field crate for transporting product from grower to packhouse, increasing pallet utilisation by 20% and reducing fuel costs and food miles.
OUR CURRENT AND FUTURE INNOVATIONS
· We are working with the Horticultural Development Council to find ways of reducing peat usage on our farms. Whilst this work is still in its infancy we are optimistic for the longer term,
· We are currently reviewing all lighting in our Evesham facility. Current lighting puts 75 tonnes of C02 into the environment. By switching to LED bulbs at a lower KW we should save 50 tonnes per year, that’s 66% less C02.
· We are also assessing the feasibility of installing solar panels on the roof. This should provide 15% of the energy we currently use in our Evesham Head Quarters facility.
· We are an active participant in the All Ireland Committee that is reviewing energy usage in mushroom farming. Results of the energy review will be available at the mushroom conference at the end of the year.
· We are currently trialling top-sealing technology which would allow us to replace PVC with Polypropylene films and would reduce our film usage by as much as 60% annually. As with our efforts to re-use SMC, the initial trials were inconclusive but we remember that every journey begins with the first step!
· Our used office stationery is recycled. We also recycle the ink cartridges from all our printers in the business to avoid adding to the estimated 55 million cartridges which end up in landfill every year.