Prolife reduces environmental impact through War on Waste initiative

 

Expanding a focus on great food and obsessive service to reduce environmental waste

 

Prolife Foods is a privately owned, New Zealand food company that now operates in the New Zealand, Australian and increasingly international markets. It was founded in 1984 by Bernie and Kaye Crosby and is still true to its purpose of "Providing Great Food with Obsessive Service".

Its New Zealand operation is based in Te Rapa, Hamilton in the middle of the green Waikato. At this site they have their procurement, marketing, customer services, and manufacturing and distribution facilities. In 2014 a factory was also commissioned and built in Altona, Melbourne to service the growing Australasian customer base.

The War on Waste initiative is launched

 

Born in early 2015, Prolife Foods' ‘War on Waste’ (WoW) initiative was aimed at ensuring the company could continue to use sustainable business methods to the best of our ability, but more importantly to provide a platform for their people to engage in identifying opportunities for, and actioning waste reduction in the business (and potentially out into their communities and family lives).

To launch ‘WoW’ and get their people thinking about internal waste streams, their 2015 annual celebration event was themed a ‘World of Wearable Waste’ fashion show. Staff were invited to get their creative juices flowing and fashion costumes out of the business's various waste products – their response was overwhelming with a very high level of engagement throughout the organisation and the costumes were spectacular… many of which took months to create.

 

Benchmarks of waste reduction success

 

After the successful launch of 'WoW', team engagement has remained high with many ideas and suggestions for reducing or managing waste coming from throughout the organisation.

 

Key focus areas and initiatives that were suggested and are underway:

Operations

  • Operations excellence project to reduce waste from production lines

  • Recycling initiatives to reduce waste volume and the quantity that goes to landfill

  • Aligning with the team from EnviroWaste has been critical in driving these initiatives

Corporate Services

  • Paper management programme including photocopier enhancements

  • Paperless meetings, electronic information exchange

  • Upgrading vehicle fleet to be more sustainable with Volkswagen with higher fuel efficiency and low emissions

  • Introduction of recycling bins throughout

Sales

  • Field Force Mobility (tablet/software) roll out

  • Paperless processes – indents, credits

 

So is WoW working? The sustainability proof is in the pudding! 

Operations

  • Production food waste has decreased by 14 tonne per annum to date

  • Waste collection reduced from ‘twice a day plus’ to once a week, resulting in 19 less truck movements a week. It has also significantly improved the value of the recycling waste to the organisation, helping to fund other initiatives

  • Installed energy efficient lighting throughout the warehouse

  • Installed motion sensor lights to reduce power consumption in warehouse 

  • Mini forklifts are now electric powered

  • Improved order packing has significantly reduced the use of shrink wrap

Corporate Services

  • Desk-side paper recycling in head office has halved since pin printing was introduced

  • Changing cups in staff areas has removed many thousands of non-degradable cups from environment

  • Introduction of organics, recycling, paper and landfill bins throughout has seen significantly improved staff awareness and has at this early stage resulted in a 1.5T reduction of waste to landfill

Sales

  • The rolling out of software and tablets to the business has already resulted in a reduction of printing/paper usage of approximately 20,000 pages per month as information is managed digitally

  • Indent order accuracy using the tablets for electronic ordering has reduced errors to close to zero, very significantly reducing rework (and more importantly improving consumer satisfaction).

 

Keeping food production waste down and environmental sustainability up 

 

Staff continue to contribute and respond positively to the programmes and policies that have been put into action so far. The challenge is now to sustain the teams’ enthusiasm and keep the ‘WoW’ movement growing.

Communication is paramount - the War on Waste continues to be discussed at team and staff meetings to help us identify further waste reduction opportunities in our business.

We are in the process of improving how we communicate the positive steps / results we have achieved through this process – frequent updates (in the form of infographics) on staff notice boards along with hints, ideas and suggestions on how the how to reduce waste and save money at home are in the process of being implemented.

Continued environmental initiatives across Prolife Food's business

 

‘Mother Earth’ supports the Soft Plastics Recycling initiative – an initiative to introduce recycling bins so that shoppers can take back their used soft plastic bags to supermarkets and retail premises.

The project will take all soft plastic bags including bread bags, frozen food bags, toilet paper packaging, confectionery and biscuit wrap, chip bags, pasta and rice bags, courier envelopes, shopping bags, sanitary hygiene packaging - basically anything made of plastic which can be scrunched into a ball.

Customers can bring their used soft plastics back to store and put them in the recycling bin. This will be collected from store by REDcycle who also run the programme in Australia. Initially the materials will be sent back to Australia where they are made into park benches and fitness circuits for playgrounds until there are facilities in NZ such as those planned at Astron Plastics that can process these products.

There is a great opportunity for even further partnering with our key suppliers and customers to further reduce waste, potentially create win win cost reductions, and benefit the environment – paperless transactions and information flow, more efficient supply chain solutions, and sharing of energy efficiency concepts are some examples.

Our War on Waste journey has well and truly begun and in recognition of our first year’s achievements we are repeating the World of Wearable Waste Fashion event, with a theme celebrating the diversity of our people, and where we are from. Once again all outfits will be manufactured using waste BUT this time including waste from home as well as from Prolife … recognising waste reduction is all of our responsibilities (business, community and personal).

"The WoW initiative has really resonated with the Prolife Foods team, with high levels of genuine engagement. It has enhanced the already positive culture within our business and interestingly, has had the almost unintended consequence of us all learning much more about each other."
Ian Jackson
GM Self Selection, Prolife Foods