The Belfast-based pig, poultry and cattle feed producer is planning to cut its CO2 emissions by 2,000 tons per year as a result of the outlay.
“We intend to generate all of our own electricity through a combined heat and power (CHP) plant, with the waste heat generating steam with which to cook our products with. The waste heat produced displaces the need to burn gas to provide that heat.
We already have a current CHP facility that provides 80% of our electrical needs with a carbon footprint 23% lower than a feed mill buying electricity and gas. Going to 100% self-sufficiency with a more modern plant delivers a further 2,000 tons reduction in carbon,” Declan Billington, CEO of Thompsons, told FeedNavigator.
The company is regulated by an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) agreement – a deal it has struck with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).
The aim of the pact is to get businesses to agree to operate above the minimum required environmental standards in return for reduced bureaucratic burden on industry.
Thompsons aims to encourage the NIEA to take a holistic and not a site specific view of what it does.
“We believe R&D investments in animal feed nutrition and technical support will deliver greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in agriculture than the regulation of manufacturing facilities will achieve,” said Billington.
And the producer, he said, is not doing it alone – it is teaming up with other stakeholders on carbon footprint reduction initiatives.
“By working with other parts of the feed supply chain on collaborative R&D, we aim to develop products that help animals achieve their true genetic potential, increase the output per animal and thus reduce carbon emissions per liter of milk or kilogram of meat produced.
By way of example, we developed a product three years ago that increased milk yield per animal by 7% allowing a farm to increase milk output without increasing herd levels or methane production.
On the poultry side, nutrition supported improvements in genetic potential has seen a 10% improvement in feed efficiency, whereby more of the feed is converted into meat and less is excreted as waste. The birds mature quicker and thus are slaughtered four days or 10% earlier in their life cycle reducing their C02 footprint as a consequence,” said the CEO.
Billington also sits on Northern Ireland Agri-Food Strategy Board and has been charged with developing a sustainability roadmap for the NI agri-sector.
Thompsons employs 165 workers and produces 850,000 tons of feed a year. It accounts for about 40% of the agricultural feed market in Northern Ireland.