Maple Lodge Farms & Enviro-Stewards: Conservation Assessment in the Poulty Industry

Engaging the services of a consultant can seem like a risky investment for a business.  Paying for ideas is seldom an attractive prospect, especially when there are nuts and bolts projects calling out for cash. However, as the example set by Enviro-Stewards and Maple Lodge Farms demonstrates, investing in the right ideas, and seeing them through to fruition, can provide significant returns. In the case of a conservation assessment those returns can leave a company with more funds for nuts and bolts and a stake in the world’s sustainable future.

Maple Lodge Farms learned about Enviro-Stewards’ work in the poultry industry and reached out to them about pursuing a conservation assessment. Lowering operating costs, improving profitability, and reducing Maple Lodge’s environmental impact were all priorities embraced by senior management. Without that kind of top level support, sustainability projects, which often require behaviour and process change, can easily stall.

Together Enviro-Stewards and Maple Lodge Farms worked to develop resource-saving opportunities based on a holistic study of the facility and then they worked to ensure that those recommendations were implemented promptly. Recognizing that reports are reports but realizing savings would contribute to  Maple Lodge Farms’ long term sustainability and competitiveness in the industry, all parties wanted the company to begin realizing the benefit of the conservation study as soon as possible.

As a result of their previous work in the industry, Enviro-Stewards’ came aboard with extensive experience in poultry processing, but, taking nothing for granted, comprehensive walk-throughs of the facility with various plant managers willing to share their expertise were conducted. Preliminary meetings with plant managers and executives were also conducted to communicate the scope and objectives of the project. Enbridge and SaveOnEnergy funded a portion of the assessment phase and various projects in the implementation phase will be eligible for capital funding.

Research was conducted throughout the project to determine best practices and to source the best technology available to the industry. Attention was also paid to existing equipment and processes to determine their level of appropriateness.

Throughout the project Enviro-Stewards’ holistic approach to resource conservation was employed. Enviro-Stewards’ team members, Maple Lodge plant managers and members of the executive team, and utility representatives participated in kickoff and progress meetings. This ensured that various perspectives and needs were considered at every stage and that buy-in was achieved at all levels of the organization. To further facilitate the necessary buy in and change, a multi-disciplinary team of Enviro-Stewards and key Maple Lodge Farms staff participated in the kick-off training and progress meetings.

Enviro-Stewards deployed a range of meters to collect a detailed and systematic minute by minute assessment of utility consumption and waste generation. The resulting data was analyzed to quantify major resource-consuming/waste generating processes which could be influenced through potential changes and efficiencies. The root causes presently addressed with resource consumption were analysed for each of the major resource consuming processes and operations. Alternatives to address these causes with substantially less resources were developed — each one vetted the conservation opportunities to ensure that they are potentially appropriate for implementation.

The multi-disciplinary team of Enviro-Stewards and Maple Lodge Farms staff Enviro-Stewards then prepared capital and operating cost estimates, payback analysis and business cases for all the selected measures. These measures, were after all, meant to improve the company’s bottom line as well as the environment. Enviro-Stewards had even gone so far as to provide a money back guarantee that the assessment work would identify a minimum of $240,000/yr of opportunities that Maple Lodge considers to be practical and have an average payback of under 2 years.

More than 10 times the guaranteed amount were found. In fact, from the commencement of Phase II in January 2018, 6 conservation projects have been implemented resulting in $65,000/year of additional profitability for Maple Lodge Farms with less than $5,000 capital investment, resulting in a payback of 28 days. Already, implemented projects are reducing GHG emissions by 35 tonnes/year.

Other projects on the implementation agenda for 2018 have been initiated that are expected to result in $775,000/year of additional profitability for Maple Lodge Farms and avoid an additional 400 tonnes/year of GHG emissions. Projects scheduled for 2019 and 2020 implementation will result in an additional $2.6 million of increased profitability and avoid 6,300 tonnes/year of GHG emissions. Combined, these projects are projected to save $3.44 million/yr with an average payback under 2 years. They would also collectively avoid 6,735 tonnes/yr of GHG.

This may be how we save the planet, one sound investment at a time.