Morrisons pioneers circular waste technology to produce UK’s first own-label carbon neutral egg

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Morrisons
Image: Morrisons

Related tags Egg carbon neutral Eggs Morrisons

Morrisons has become the first UK supermarket to launch its own line of carbon neutral eggs as part of its target to be directly supplied by ‘zero emission’ British farms by 2030.

In stores now, Morrisons new carbon neutral ‘Planet Friendly Eggs’ come from Morrisons farms where hens are fed a soya-free diet of insects - which are in turn fed on food waste from its bakery, fruit and vegetable sites. This ‘circular waste’ feeding system claims to reduce deforestation caused by soya production and negates the carbon emissions emitted from transporting this soya.

The partner behind the scheme is UK-based ag-tech start up Better Origin, which has created AI-powered insect ‘mini-farms’​ that take local food waste from supermarkets and convert it into high-quality, sustainable animal feed. Better Origin will eventually supply 10 insect mini farms to Morrisons UK free-range egg farms.

Better Origin mini-farms will be in use at 10 of Morrisons free range egg farms; two units are currently on Morrisons supplying farms, with more to come, said the retailer. The containers store millions which can help feed 32,000 free range hens and receives three tonnes of waste from Morrisons fruit and vegetable site each week. The insects can grow to 5,000 times their initial body mass in less than 14 days.

The egg farm where the first stock of Planet Friendly Eggs will originate also has a large wind turbine, 50kWh solar panels, and a carbon sequestration programme to offset any remaining emissions on the farm - with 20 percent of its land planted with trees.

Morrisons has been working with its farmers to create net zero carbon farm ‘models’ that look at neutralising emissions through the whole lifecycle and footprint of the farm. The Planet Friendly carbon neutral eggs are the first product to come out of these models, with sustainable beef, lamb and fruit and vegetables to follow.

Egg production is one of the lowest animal protein emitters. But Sophie Throup, Head of Agriculture at Morrisons, said that many consumers want to take steps to cut their carbon footprint where they can. “This is our first carbon neutral product and there will be many more to come,” ​she said. “It’s all part of our drive to be directly supplied only by ‘zero emission’ British farms by 2030. We know our customers consider the environmental impact of the food they eat and want affordable zero emission produce."

A report by the University of Cambridge has confirmed the carbon neutral status of Morrisons new Planet Friendly Eggs, having analysed all carbon emissions in the eggs’ production and those which are offset on Morrisons first carbon neutral egg farm. The report considers the holistic production of the eggs, including the Better Origin X1 insect growing unit and food waste transport, the sourcing of locally grown grain and the hen housing and care.

Ian Bamford, Commercial Director Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge, said: “It was clear that the mitigation actions that had been put in place by the first farm to produce carbon neutral eggs enabled them to meet that goal.”

The product is also set to be the first to feature the British Lion Egg green stamp on its eggs to indicate the lower environmental impact to customers. Earlier this year, Morrisons became the first supermarket to commit to selling its own milk in carbon neutral cartons.

Fotis Fotiadis, CEO & Founder at Better Origin, said: “We are thrilled to see Morrisons introduce a carbon neutral product, powered by our technology, to the public. The current food supply chain isn’t sustainable in the long term and while it is certainly effective, it’s coming at a cost to the environment. Our ambition at Better Origin is to change that by creating a more sustainable circular food chain, so to finally see the first carbon neutral product from Morrisons hit the shelves is testament to the incredible work of the Morrisons team involved.”

While the Morrisons eggs are the first own-brand, the UK’s first carbon neutral egg was launched in 330 Sainsbury’s stores in October last year by Respectful​. Its eggs are produced on free range farms that use locally grown feed, renewable energy, and a carefully chosen breed of hen who inherently have a low carbon footprint. The largest component of an egg’s carbon footprint is the soya used in the feed. The company therefore feeds its hens field beans which are grown on its farm, and milled on-site, thereby reducing the food miles required to feed the hens.

Respectful’s move followed that of Dutch farm Kipster which launched the world’s first carbon neutral eggs in 2017 after spending four years developing a closed loop farming method. Its production method is based on removing soy out of the equation. Kipster’s white hens are fed biscuits, rice cakes and other leftovers from local bakeries that cannot be sold and would otherwise be thrown away.

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