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Green Business Network

Dawn Cardington - halves bills with resource efficiency

Three years ago the future of the Dawn Meats Cardington site near Bedford was uncertain because the company couldn’t get enough utilities on-site to satisfy demand. Today, it’s a very different story. A major resource efficiency project in this last eighteen months has not only resulted in far less gas, water and electricity being used now than back then, but the company has also saved 4,087,877 kWh in the space of just one year.

dawn meats logoWith the multitude of issues associated with food safety, such as BSE, foot and mouth, hygiene, etc, environmental issues can be extremely challenging to address, particularly where energy and water use is concerned. But Dawn Meats has grasped the nettle with extraordinary results.

The abattoir in Bedford has been in existence for over 30 years, and become part of the Dawn Meats Group in 1997. The company employs approximately 250 people, and its operations include a busy lamb and beef slaughter house, cutting plant and a mince packaging section.

With the costs of gas, electricity and water consistently rising, Dawn Meats needed to take steps to make savings. In fact, according to Rob Barker, environmental coordinator, the company’s environmental impacts took second place to economic considerations when programmes were put in place. “Huge increases in electricity and gas costs meant it was a primarily financial decision for us to take action,” he says.

The company’s resource efficiency programme initially addressed electricity, gas, water and waste, which were the major areas where savings were identified. The results are almost the stuff of text books.

Electricity, Gas and Water

Savings of 4,087,877 kWh per year on electricity and gas, and using approximately 30,000 cubic meters less of water a year were achieved by taking the following measures:


Dawn Meats has worked hard to reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfill, and is now in the position where virtually the only waste stream going directly to landfill is packaging waste. Savings of £19,500 in skip usage alone have been made. It achieved this by taking the following measures:

In addition, two waste collections per week from the retail section have now gone down to just one per fortnight, which has been achieved by a combination of re-engineering the process and recycling.

Other Cost Savings

Researching various polymers used for the effluent treatment process led to the use of a cheaper product giving better results. This, coupled with a new supplier for the ferric, saves £5,300 a year.

Negotiating prices with suppliers, maintenance and other technical measures also resulted in the following savings:

According to Rob Barker, Dawn Meats has just plans to implement further changes, which will result in more major savings. He says, “I know it’s a bit of a cliché but these savings come right off the bottom line.” And the dramatic savings in the first year aren’t to be sniffed at.