As a leading supplier to the UK foodservice sector, Brakes is passionate about providing an unbeatable level of service to its customers while also operating in the most environmentally friendly way. Whether driving down food miles, responsible sourcing, or reducing its carbon footprint, Brakes commitment to sustainability is at the core of its business ethos.
Brakes takes its commitment to both the environment and the communities in which we serve very seriously, comments James Armitage, Brakes marketing director. One of the most pleasing things for us as a Group is that despite significant expansion through both organic growth and acquisitions, we have been able to continue our commitment to CSER activities, constantly looking to reduce energy consumption and our effect on the environment.
Recently Brakes has invested in a number of green initiatives that will deliver significant energy reductions in logistics. A partnership with Eddie Stobart Rail Freight, for example, means Brakes are the first foodservice supplier in the UK to use rail freight in the transport of fresh produce from Spain. There are plans afoot to extend this scheme across other European regions and different product ranges in the future, further reducing the logistical footprint.
Sean Negus, product supply director at Brakes comments on the partnership: Brakes decision to use the Stobart Rail Freight Service was inspired by the need to reduce food road miles and increase the speed of deliveries from the continent to ensure the optimum freshness of produce. The first delivery was seamless with the cargo arriving half a day quicker than using traditional road haulage.
Other measures have included consolidation of deliveries, which has enabled Brakes to save more than 2.27 million food miles. In addition, all of Brakes new vehicles are fitted with Euro V engines, cleaner electric fridge technologies that save CO2 and Fleetboard a system that manages driver behaviour with a view to improving fuel consumption.
Staff who take advantage of company cars from Brakes are also encouraged to opt for hybrid vehicles with 30 per cent less emissions. Brakes is delighted with the uptake among employees, testament to the fact their staff takes their individual responsibility to the environment just as seriously as the group does.
Another simple method of reducing food miles is to strive to source the best local ingredients and products where possible. Whether it is promoting the use of under- utilised British species of fish in place of threatened varieties from foreign waters, or continuing to champion British farmers and producers through our ongoing support of schemes such as British Food Fortnight, Brakes always look to source locally wherever availability and quality allow.
In terms of energy efficiency, Brakes has recently invested £800,000 in a new more efficient CO2 refrigeration system. Trialled at their Hemsworth depot, the new system is expected to reduce energy consumption by 10-15 per cent when it becomes operational in April 2010. Emitting less harmful gases, the new system is not only better for the environment, but substantial savings on energy costs make the investment a prudent commercial decision.
Brakes has a rolling programme to replace all R22, an ozone-depleting refrigerant commonly used in industry refrigeration, by the end of 2014 in line with government targets. This technological investment in CO2 refrigeration means Brakes exceeds the current legislation standards.
Ian Hunt, group engineering manager at Brakes comments: As a business we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and operating in a more sustainable way, especially when it makes good commercial sense to do so, which is why we have invested in this new technology.
Brakes has also invested in an Internal Environmental Management System that monitors energy usage in each Brakes site every 30 minutes, helping the business to reduce electricity usage by 967 tonnes of CO2 from January 2008 and reduce gas usage by 30 per cent.
All of these initiatives are testament to the companys ongoing programme of sustainable business practice and has led to Brakes achieving ISO14001 Accreditation, and winning numerous industry awards in recognition of Brakes CSER strategy.
We are totally committed to corporate, social and environmental responsibility at Brakes, says James. As a business we strive to continually improve our green credentials and promote sustainable working in the foodservice industry.