4. THE SUSTAINABILITY AWARD
From green practices to environmentally sensitive farming and energy-saving initiatives, this category is for those companies who have gone above and beyond to make their businesses truly sustainable.
In 2018, Aldi made the bold step of pledging to become Carbon Neutral by 2019.
We have focused on a systematic reduction of carbon emissions through purchasing 100% renewable electricity, switching to less harmful refrigerant gases and using waste heat from our refrigeration systems to heat our stores.
Carbon is known to be a major cause of ozone layer depletion and the greenhouse effect, so one of the key developments has been our pledge to become a carbon-neutral company. We are proud to be one of the biggest installers and operators of solar panels in the UK and have invested £31 million in photovoltaic power since 2012. Refrigerant gases are known to have a major impact on the environment, so as part of our international climate strategy, we’ve focused on a systematic phase out of older refrigeration systems to newer cabinets using less harmful gases. Since 2018, all of our new stores are built with CO2 refrigeration systems, and we are retrofitting these systems into a number of our older stores each year.
As well as reducing our carbon emissions by optimising our energy use via our ISO 50001 accredited energy management system, we’ve partnered with external organisations such as Climate Partner to purchase the remaining carbon offsets. Through this, we’ll be supporting international schemes to provide fuel-efficient cookstoves and water purification equipment.
We worked hard to reduce our emissions and find ways to be kinder to the environment and on 1 January 2019 we officially became carbon neutral.
2. BLUE SKIES
Blue Skies considers sustainability as balancing the needs of people, planet and profit. Our School Farm initiative in Ghana is fundamental to sustainability, as it aims to address a key challenge for ourselves and the wider industry; how to encourage the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs!
In Ghana, farming is seen as an unattractive occupation, with young people preferring to pursue white collar jobs in cities. This has contributed to the decline in agriculture, which has seen the average age of farmers increase over the years.
To help reverse this trend, Blue Skies launched the “School Farm of the Year” Competition in in 2015 as a way to positivity engage young people in food, the environment, business and agriculture. Judges assess schools on their ability to start and manage their own farm, grow the best crops, market and sell their produce and look after the environment. The winning schools are awarded at the end of the year and receive prizes including laptops and computers.
Since the competition started, over 100 schools have participated, benefiting more than 5,000 students. Over 300 students have since gone on to study agriculture and four Senior High Schools are now offering agricultural science in response to growing demand.
School Farms are igniting a healthy re-emergence of community farming activities which is supplementing the availability of knowledge and skills and helping to generate additional income which can be ploughed back in to the local economy, improve the environment and, importantly, enhance the development of schools.
3. FLAMINGO HORTICULTURE
Flamingo Horticulture is headquartered in the UK and is a vertically integrated horticultural business that grows, processes, packages, markets, and distributes cut flowers, plants and premium prepared fresh vegetables. Over 7,000 people owe their livelihoods to Flamingo and it is the largest vertically integrated, value-added producer and exporter of fresh produce, plants and flowers to the EU.
Flamingo recognises the challenges described in the Foresight report (2011) on the Future of Food and Farming, as well as the UN Sustainable Development goals to promote sustainable agriculture. Flamingo Horticulture is deeply committed to reducing food waste and are members of Champions 12.3, a coalition dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilising action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3 by 2030.
For this Sustainability award we would like to highlight our school feeding programme, which utilises food waste generated in our business to provide a healthy nutritious meal to pupils who would not otherwise have access to a meal. The programme started with Maua Primary School in Hell’s Gate ward in Naivasha, Kenya. It is a mixed day-only school in Nakuru County and is sponsored by the central government with 850 pupils.
Each lunchtime, 850 pupils are provided a nutritious soup from Flamingo Horticulture’s staff canteen and delivered each lunchtime in the company van. This feeding program is being extended to cover over 6,000 children in Kenya and plans are in place to extend it to cover Morocco, Guatemala and Peru in the coming year.
The predictability of the Kenyan climate is becoming more difficult over time. Water, being the main precious resource, is something which we must be able to secure year-round supply of with rainwater being one of the main sustainable sources.
New ideas on how to capture water are becoming more important as the climate becomes more varied and availability of water more challenging. This is where the idea for the KHE Gorge and Solar Project was founded. An area of rain-water was identified which was found to pass through a gorge on the farm and eventually join the main Timau river. To capture the flash floods from the rainfalls within the gorge we built a man-made wall. To harvest the water from the storage we built a canal that cuts through the farm and joins the main plastic-lined dams (these feed the entire farm). Solar panels were put in place and used to pump the water up to 150m where gravity then takes over for a further 3km and naturally takes the water to the main dam. This storage, which should fill twice per year, has the capacity to supply the farm with of over 1.1 million cubic meters of water using natural, sustainable means.