PLASTICS CAMPAIGN: Morecambe dairy inspired to tackle plastic waste

Steph Stephenson, managing director Stephenson's Dairy in Morecambe. Picture Jonathan Keenan.
Steph Stephenson, managing director Stephenson's Dairy in Morecambe. Picture Jonathan Keenan.

In the third week of our plastic campaign we take a look at a Morecambe dairy who are looking to address the issue of plastic waste.

Stephensons Dairy in Morecambe has made a series of small changes thanks to a free programme run by Lancaster University.

The ‘Low Carbon Innovation Forum’ is tailored for local businesses who wish to reduce energy costs and bust myths around their carbon footprint.

Steph Stephenson, managing director of Stephensons Dairy in Morecambe, says the forum has had a positive impact on her business, helping her to reduce energy costs and with it, environmental impact.

“For me, the standout experience was a company visit to Lancaster City Council, where we all got to see for ourselves the true scale of today’s plastic waste challenge,” said Steph.

“Up to then, I felt we were really doing something, but suddenly I felt we weren’t doing enough - but it completely inspired me to go back and make sure we hadn’t overlooked anything else that was possible.”

Launched last year by Lancaster University’s Centre for Global Eco-Innovation and Lancaster University Management School, the six month ‘Low Carbon Innovation Forum’ aims to provide a space for local businesses to explore opportunities and understand what eco-innovation is.

Steph signed up to the Low Carbon Innovation Forum in the hope of making savings.

“I was hesitant at first because I assumed – wrongly – that a lot of the things we’d talk about would be outside our reach, financially,” she said.

“But actually the great thing is that it has shown me nothing is outside your reach, and that everything you do, no matter how small, has a positive impact.”

Stephensons Dairy was the first dairy in the UK to provide Free Range Milk and is a business committed to sustainability.

As a result of the Low Carbon Innovation Forum, several opportunities have been identified for the business to strengthen this commitment, and make significant savings along the way.

“One of the first things we have done is put our lights on sensors, so now as soon as deliveries have been picked up, our fridges and the buildings go back to darkness,” said Steph.

“Plus we’re looking at the practicality of having the same plastic strips on our vans as we have on our doorways, to prevent energy wastage.

“In terms of addressing the serious issue of plastic, we’ve had customers say they’re trying to give up plastic as a New Year’s resolution, and we’re looking at getting their milk delivered in glass bottles.

“We’re also moving forward with supplying customers with pergal machines, so we can stop delivering two litre containers.

“And we’ve had four vans modified to take trolleys, to avoid shrink-wrapping deliveries for customers who don’t need it.

“It all adds up, and I’m keen to carry on looking at alternatives.”

The forum helps businesses review energy usage to lower costs and spot opportunities to improve processes and automation; along with developing plans for products and services that could benefit their business and the environment.

So far, 11 businesses in Lancashire have benefited from the programme, from large food delivery and processing companies with high energy requirements, to providers of printing services, and innovators developing reusable healthcare products. Applications are now open for additional programmes beginning in March and June 2018.