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23 January, 2008 - 04:24 By Staff Reporter

McCain chips in to slash carbon footprint

Business is really cooking at Canadian owned McCain Foods thanks to a £10 million investment in wind turbines to drive its Whittlesey site in Cambridgeshire – the largest chip factory in the UK.

 Three 3MW Vestas turbines, installed near the end of last year, will provide around 60 per cent of the annual electricity consumption of the site. The investment is a cornerstone of a strategy to lower the company’s carbon footprint and move its operations more aggressively towards a sustainable future. McCain believes it is the first major UK food manufacturer to power a facility of this size using alternative energy. The 80 metre high turbines are the highest ever seen on shore in England; they can each produce 3MW of electricity, the most powerful currently in use in the UK. Ann Wardle of East of England International helped guide McCain through the planning process for the project. When the plant is not operating, unused electricity will be pumped into the National Grid. McCain hopes the turbines will also help to safeguard against future energy price rises. It estimates that the turbines will lead to a reduction of 20,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide greenhouse emissions from the Whittlesey plant. A company spokesman said: “For a while now we’ve been thinking about how to switch to cleaner, greener, renewable energy supplies – and wind turbines are definitely the way to go! Our electricity bills will drop by the equivalent amount of energy used annually by almost 6000 average family homes “Plus, at off-peak times, any surplus electricity that is generated will be put back into the National Grid. So everyone benefits!” Bill Bartlett, McCain’s corporate affairs director added: “This is a significant investment from McCain and we are particularly proud to be the first major food manufacturer to use alternative energy on this scale. “More significantly than the savings the company effects, it demonstrates that a large scale manufacturing plant can operate efficiently while significantly reducing its carbon footprint.” The installation of the wind turbines was part of a range of steps McCain is taking to cut down on its environmental impact across all its UK plants. Measures include a planned investment in a combined heat and power facility at the Whittlesey plant which will run on a renewable energy supply generated by biogas from an on-site waste water treatment plant digester. The company is also tackling the issue of food miles by only using potatoes grown in the UK. All potatoes are sourced as close to the factories as possible. McCain has also bought some double deck delivery vehicles in a bid to reduce road miles by 20 per cent. And its refrigerated lorries use solar panels to cut fuel consumption. At other sites it has invested in heat recovery systems that recover waste heat from the fryers and use the energy to heat water used in the preparation process. McCain Foods Limited is a privately owned company established in 1957 by the McCain brothers in Florenceville, New Brunswick. It is the world’s largest producer of French fries and other oven-ready frozen foods. McCain Foods has 20,000 employees and 55 production facilities in 12 countries spanning six continents. It processes one million pounds of potato products each hour and sells one-third of the world’s frozen French fries products in over 110 countries.  

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