In the second of a three-part series of blogs that will take a closer look at Integrated Food Projects’ involvement in the delivery of innocent’s new factory, the blender. We spoke with Hayley Cormick, Senior Sustainability Advisor from KLH Sustainability, to explain how the earth’s favourite little healthy drinks factory was designed and built with sustainability at the heart of every decision.
Since day one of Integrated Food Project’ involvement in the blender, the objective has always been clear – design and build a drinks factory that supports a supply chain that can be carbon neutral by 2025.
To achieve this, the blender upholds a robust and future-proofed definition of CO2 neutral that sits in line with the UKGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Framework and the Netherlands BREEAM CO2 neutral definition.
The reality of achieving carbon neutrality meant the adoption of a hierarchy of reducing energy consumption, improving energy efficiency, moving away from fossil-fuel derived energy sources and investing in new renewable energy. These topics became the focal point for every decision made in the factory design process. Ultimately, all energy needed to run the production process – including pasteurisation, blending, bottling, running the testing labs and chilled storage, as well as the energy needed to create a comfortable and productive working environment – would need to be met by renewable energy across an average annual cycle.
An important first step in reducing energy demand in the blender was challenging the factory’s requirement for steam. the blender’s steam demands were able to be reduced by 80% through splitting thermal demands down by purpose, and only heating water to the temperature specific functions require. Reducing the need for steam enabled the blender to do away with fossil fuel burning boilers and introduce an all-electric energy strategy.
the blender recycles what is typically seen as “waste” heat from the cooling and refrigeration process by recompressing it to a useful temperature and using it to meet the heating requirements of the factory. This industrial heat pump energy solution creates a thermally balanced system, reducing the predicted energy consumption for heating and cooling by 45% – a system that we were delighted to see innocent win the People’s Choice Award for at the 2021 European Heat Pump Association awards.
With global demand for water increasing at a rapid rate, a keen focus was placed on how usage could be minimised at the blender. Traditionally, high volumes of water are flushed through production lines to clean and sanitise lines and tanks. the blender challenged this standard process by introducing a new revolutionary line cleaning technology called FluiVac where spinning airflows are generated to create a pressurised water mist that cleans the lines – the introduction of this innovative system saves an estimated 81,000 litres of water every single day.
Further to this, automation and the latest AI technology have been implemented throughout the factory to create efficiencies in the operating of machinery and managing of processes. This allows for the blender to increase both production rates and product quality, while ensuring that primary resources – such as water – are used efficiently.
Waste materials from the manufacturing process was another area of focus. Throughout the construction stage, a circular mindset was implemented – by maximising material separation through 12 different waste streams, we were able to recycle or reuse 90% of the waste generated from the construction site.
the blender is not just a project designed to be sustainable today, the entire lifetime of the factory has been considered to ensure that it continues to evolve and is still at the cutting edge of environmentally friendly design for many years and decades to come. In a future where the circular economy is more prevalent, the blender will be able to support and be a functioning part of this process thanks to the development and introduction of a materials passport. By creating a digital database containing data for the specific building products, innocent will be ready and prepared to feed into the circular economy as it develops during the lifecycle of the blender.
Sustainability and the blender are intrinsically linked. From very early design stages, the innocent-defined sustainability framework has guided the design, construction and operations of the factory to set out the blueprint for what a sustainable factory can be. By implementing the bespoke framework, the blender is targeting both BREEAM and WELL certification, in addition to positively contributing towards innocent’s BCorp certification.
Working with businesses such as innocent, who are purpose-led in everything they do enabled us to factor sustainability innovations into every decision that was made in the design and construction process. the bender shows that a focus on sustainability brings advantages beyond just profit – the planet and people also benefit, and they are two areas that businesses and factories of the future should consider and contribute towards equally, alongside profit.
What has been achieved with the blender, and the methods, designs, thinking and technology that contributed towards it, are not learnings that innocent will keep to itself. innocent wants to inspire wider change across the whole of the food and beverage industry, as Nigel Devine explains in the previous blog, it is an “exercise in the art of the possible”. As such, innocent is committed to creating technical case studies that will be freely available, and which will tell the story of the blender’s sustainability journey, including the lessons learned, in an effort to educate and inspire the wider industry to strive for real change and higher sustainability standards in the future.
Integrated Food Projects have partnered with Kettleby Foods on a number of high-profile multi-million pound capital projects since 2003/4, helping the business to develop and grow. Throughout that time they have provided cost-effective and efficient solutions on development projects both at our existing ready meals production facility and also in creating a new satellite facility. The projects at our existing facility were managed without impact on our ability to service our own clients, and all projects have been delivered within budget, in a timely fashion and to the requisite standards of safety and quality. Their team work ethos and professional approach ensure successful projects and I would utilise Integrated Food Projects in the future without hesitation.
- Jarrod Thorndyke, Production Director
I have worked with Integrated Food Projects on many capital expenditure projects since 2004, the latest being the development of the new plot of land adjacent to our main site. They successfully employed a project delivery process to ensure the integration of a leased modular building solution with the development of the site infrastructure to improve logistics and Health and Safety. Their staff are always positive and enthusiastic and have fostered a team-work approach ensuring another successful project delivered. I look forward to working with them again in the near future.
- Engineering Manager, Major UK Ready Meals Manufacturer