Making ‘green’ chips

Posted on 10 Jun 2008 by The Manufacturer

McCain Foods has been praised for its commitment to sustainable power and eco-friendly operations by the Minister for Energy, Malcolm Wicks.

The UK’s largest producer of frozen oven chips installed three wind turbines six months ago at its factory in Cambridgeshire and these now provide up to 60 per cent of the annual electricity used at the plant. When the factory is not operating, the power produced is sold to the National Grid. The turbines have lowered CO2 emissions by 7,500 tonnes.

“McCain Foods has set a fantastic example to UK manufacturers by harnessing wind energy to power its business. The investment in wind turbines at the plant in Whittlesey will cut McCain’s carbon dioxide emissions and generate clean, green, secure and sustainable energy,” said Mr Wicks.

As well as the turbines, the household brand name producer of frozen potato-based snacks will shortly begin using an anaerobic lagoon that will take waste water from the manufacturing process to produce a biogas which is then burned to make electricity. This will satisfy a further 10 per cent of the plant’s power needs.

Combined, the schemes create the equivalent of the energy used by 7,500 average three bedroom homes – or 32,200MWh. At certain times of the year, the plant will run on the renewable energy alone.

Nick Vermont, CEO of McCain, said: “Innovation is at the core of our company and we are proud of our commitment to improve the environmental impact of our preparation processes. Through committing £15 million to the construction of the anaerobic lagoon and three wind turbines at our Whittlesey factory, we can provide up to 70% of the site’s electrical needs, ensuring the long term competitive sustainability of the plant. We hope this demonstrates that a large scale manufacturing plant can operate efficiently while significantly reducing its carbon footprint.”

Other environmental initiatives undertaken by McCain includes limiting its food miles. Potatoes, it says, are sourced from as close as possible to the factory while double-decker trailers distribute stock more efficiently.