The Cleaner Production Demonstration Project is an initiative of Environment Australia - Environment Protection Group (EPG). The aim of the Project was to raise the awareness of Australian industry and actively promote cleaner production issues. This was to be achieved by conducting ten successful cleaner production demonstration projects in industry around Australia, documenting the benefits and experiences of the project, and publicising the results to wider industry. Dames & Moore, assisted by Energetics, were engaged as technical consultants on the project. The project commenced in June 1994, and ran for 27 months.
Australia Meat Holdings (AMH) was selected as one of the ten companies to participate in the project. This case study report presents a record of the progress of the AMH project, from initial meeting to project completion, and details the results of the project and any problems which may have been encountered. This case study demonstrates the application of cleaner production to the meat industry.
AMH is the largest Australian producer of beef for both the home and international market. AMH operates 8 abattoirs in NSW and Queensland. The main product lines are chilled and frozen beef cuts, as well as byproducts including tallow and meals. Having assessed the impact of cleaner production on the operation of the abattoirs, AMH identified that energy efficiency and trade waste were the two main areas where improvements could be made. On investigation, a number of distinct project areas were identified. These projects involve:
- Offal Cutting & Washing;
- Blood Separation; and
- Coal Boiler Performance.
Offal cutting and washing was initially selected as the main project for investigation as it offered the greatest potential impact on the water treatment system and was characterised by a diverse range of applications across the AMH group.
Throughout the development phase of the project, there was significant pressure on resources and financial commitment due to the prevailing pressure on the Australian beef industry. This pressure manifested itself in the form of a fall in the prices for export beef thus making investment in the Australian facilities difficult to justify. Three of the abattoir facilities ceased operation subsequent to the preparation of this report.
This has meant that the implementation work on Offal Cutting and Washing is unlikely to proceed in the near future. A similar case is true for Blood Separation which, while clear options were identified, market pressures restricted their application.
The third cleaner production opportunity involved improving the coal boiler performance. For this project, minimum capital was spent and a clear financial gain was achieved through improved monitoring and improvements to operator practices. This led to a reduction in energy waste from two coal fired boilers and a cost saving of approximately $65,000 per annum.
Valuable lessons have been learnt from the investigation into cleaner production projects. When AMH considers major equipment changes in the future, then the application of the cleaner production findings can be reconsidered.
Challenging aspects of the AMH cleaner production project were:
- the project was run on a 'group' basis, rather than a site-by-site basis. As such, it was difficult to obtain site information and motivate site staff, when removed from the day-to-day operation of the abattoir; and
- the AMH representative responsible for 'driving' the project left the company during the course of the project, which subsequently lost momentum.