Dunbia parent company Dawn Meats has announced a new plan to work towards reaching a target of net-zero operational emissions by 2040.

The meat processor announced this morning (Tuesday, December 6) that it is also aiming to have a net-zero supply chain “as soon as possible”.

Net zero refers to the balance between the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

Under Plan Four Zero, an initial £90 million investment will be made across four key areas: Environment, farming, food, and society.

Dawn Meats said that this approach takes account of the entire supply chain.

In the near term, the processor is aiming to reduce its direct emissions (emissions from its own business processes) and certain indirect emissions by 59% by 2030, through investment in technology to “transform” the business’ plant infrastructure, transport, thermal energy generation, and refrigeration systems.

According to the business, ongoing supplier engagement to reduce emissions and improve farm efficiencies will continue via farming projects and knowledge-sharing events.

Dawn Meats said it will improve carcass utilisation and derive greater value from its livestock products.

Other aims in the plan include ensuring 100% of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable; and sourcing 100% of its cattle and sheep from Red Tractor-assured farms in the UK and from Bord Bia-assured farms in Ireland.

The processor said that it saw a 248,000t reduction in GHG from its operations and supply chain in 2020, while on-farm emissions associated with the business reduced by 189,000t in the same year.

Commenting on the new plan, Dawn Meats and Dunbia CEO Niall Browne said: “Dawn Meats has an opportunity to continue to positively impact the supply chain as well as our communities and environment.”

The business said it is working collaboratively with farmers across two demonstration farms in Ireland.

At Newford Farm in Athenry, Co. Galway, research and development on sustainable suckler beef production is supported by Teagasc and McDonald’s.

In 2022, in partnership with Teagasc and Shinagh Estates, Dawn Meats established a dairy calf-to-beef demonstration farm, building on the learnings from multiple calf-to-beef projects undertaken between Teagasc and Dawn Meats since 2008.