19 May 2022

Laois factory's water usage cut equals 27 Olympic-sized swimming pools

Big Irish food company says meat plant's savings helping its environment strategy


Pictured are Gill Higgins, Group Head of Sustainability Dawn Meats, and Niall Browne, CEO Dawn Meats, at Power’s Farm in Co Waterford at the launch of Dawn Meats’ sustainability report. Brownes Photog

The equivalent of 27 swimming pools of water have been saved at a Laois meat factor this year according to the major Irish food firm that runs the facility.

Dawn Meats claims the savings made at the processing plant has helped it to cut group-wide greenhouse gases by 248,000 tonnes since 2016.

Dawn Meats has highlighted its plant in Rathdowney in its new Group Sustainability Report. 

"As an example of progress achieved Dawn Meats’ plant in Rathdowney, Co Laois, has contributed water savings equivalent to 27 Olympic-sized swimming pools on an annual basis. 

"The plant has saved 5.6m litres of water per month thanks to a range of initiatives employed. The installation of water sub meters to monitor usage, real-time reporting of issues through an online platform and the implementation of a ‘True Cost of Water’ metric, which is now being rolled out across the group, all led to significant progress at Rathdowney," said a statement.

The company says it was the first European beef and lamb processor to set science-based targets and measure its progress on externally verified sustainability goals. It says it has committed to a 30% reduction in Green house gas emissions by 2030 which is the equivalent of emissions of 59,000 CO2 equivalent

It hopes to achieve this through a range of measures including the procurement of 100% renewable electricity and site investments in refrigeration upgrades and lower emission thermal energy generation.

Dawn Meats says it has also achieved a 31% reduction in energy intensity in 2020 and is on target to achieve a 40% reduction by 2025. In real terms, it claimed this is a reduction is the equivalent to powering a town of 20,215 homes per year.

Progress is also reported on 2025 targets has also been made in terms of water intensity, with a 28% reduction being achieved in 2020, equivalent to 1,225 Olympic sized swimming pools.

On the supply chain, Dawn claims 96% of livestock sourced from Bord Bia Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme members in Ireland. It says farm emissions across the group have reduced by 189,000 tons CO2 equivalent in 2020.  It adds that the commitment to a sustainable supply chain has been further enhanced by improvements in packaging used, with all of Dawn Meats’ rigid plastic trays now having a 90% average recycled content

Some of the key achievements outlined in today’s report include:

  • Procuring assured cattle and sheep from an increasing proportion of the group’s 30,000 farmer suppliers, where emissions are now independently measured on more than 40% of farms and where improvements in on-farm efficiencies are being achieved.
  • €1m invested annually in on-farm sustainability projects
  • Retail consumer pack MAP and VSP trays are now made from a plastic material called mono PET, which enables recycling and supports the circular economy.
  • 125,000 meal portions donated to frontline workers and organisations feeding people in need

Niall Browne is CEO of Dawn Meats.

“Dawn Meats continues to move forward in its goal of being Europe’s most sustainable meat company. Progress on our emissions targets is a testament to the work our teams put in on the ground at our 22 processing sites. It is only by our staff, suppliers and customers all working together that we are able to achieve the progress we are making.

Gill Higgins is the Group Head of Sustainability at Dawn Meats.

“Across all aspects of our sustainability strategy, from climate action, environmental management and sustainable sourcing to animal welfare and people and community, we are making improvements that count. We have had excellent engagement with our primary producers and community stakeholders, and it is important that we recognise their valued contribution,” she said.

Family owned, Dawn Meats was established in Co. Waterford, Ireland in 1980. It says it has grown to a business with over €2bn in annual revenue, employing over 7,500 staff in twelve countries. The company says it works with some of the world’s leading food companies. It says the combined businesses in the UK and Ireland sees approximately 1m cattle and 3 million sheep processed annually.


To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.