ABP (Anglo Beef Processors) Food Group is one of Europe’s biggest privately-owned food processors that has been in business since 1954. ABP Beef is the core business supported by adjacent activities – pet food and protein divisions. Today, ABP Food Group encompasses a network of over 35,000 farmers and has been commended for its strategy aimed at supporting local products and minimizing animal transport distances. As per recent estimations, the company injects €1.3bn annually into the rural economies in which it is active. Its mission is to maximize the value of its products and minimize the environmental impact of its business operations. This paper analyzes the 2012 license determination, its amendments, and the measures that ABP has taken to enforce compliance.
Main Activities Occurring at the Site
In Ireland, Anglo Beef Processors trade under the name ABP Rathkeale and identifies its primary activity as the slaughter of cattle at its meat processing installation located in Rathkeale, County Limerick; deer slaughtering is a minor activity at the site. Currently, the plant’s capacity allows for processing 600 cattle/ day or 40 tons/ day. The operating hours of the facility depending on the season and may vary. The processes occurring at the site encompass a range of activities associated with slaughtering. In particular, ABP Rathkeale possesses fat processing and tallow oil and greaves producing plant adjacent to the main site. In addition, the company runs a canning process where canned meats are cooked in retorts, and later, the cans undergo cooling, packing, and storage. As per the 2012 license, ABP Rathkeale has the permission to carry out “the operation of slaughterhouses with a carcass production capacity greater than 50 tonnes per day (Environmental Protection Agency 2012).” To date, none of the activities proposed by the company has been refused.
Relevant Sustainability Conditions of the License
According to the 2012 license, ABP Ireland is subject to twelve conditions, most of which are aimed at better sustainability of the plant. For instance, as per Condition 6, the licensee is prohibited from exceeding the emission limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA sets installation boundaries beyond which emissions, including odors, that result from the main activities carried out at the site start to interfere and damage the environment. Condition 4 also prevents substance discharge that creates a risk of fish or shellfish tainting.
Condition 6 draws on Condition 5 and binds ABP Ireland to carry out “sampling, analyses, measurements, examinations, maintenance and calibrations” in accordance with the standards set by the Analytical Quality Control (Environmental Protection Agency 2012). In particular, the EPA requires ABP Ireland to check the integrity and water tightness properties of all underground parts of the infrastructure and their resistance to penetration by water every three years. The annual testing includes the analysis and measurement of SOx, NOx, and CO emissions. As for more frequent checks, ABP Ireland is required to inspect the drainage system (gullies, manholes) for sludge. All sludge and drainage from these infrastructures should be safely collected and disposed of. Other requirements overviewed by Condition 5 include daily visual examinations of the stormwater discharges and a noise survey of the operations.
Condition 7 is another part of the 2012 license that directly relates to ABP Ireland’s efforts at maintaining sustainability. The condition deals with energy efficiency that, as per the license, shall be audited at the site with the regularity prescribed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The purpose of the audits is the identification of all viable ways to reduce energy and water use on-site, which includes recycling and reuse initiatives if applicable. If such opportunities are discovered, they shall be added to the Schedule of Environmental Objectives and Targets (Environmental Protection Agency 2012).
Lastly, Condition 8 builds upon Condition 7 and elaborates further on environmentally friendly materials handling. In particular, the EPA controls waste disposal and legally binds ABP Ireland to hire authorized waste contractors to carry out the task. Due to the nature of activities at the site, the company often has to dispose of animal tissue or carcasses and other forms of organic waste. As per Condition 8, all waste should be transported in sealed containers or covered trailers to prevent spillage; the same goes for animal waste stored at the site. The EPA also provides guidelines regarding the labeling and packaging of waste. Moreover, the quantity of waste shall not be completely unpredictable, which is why ABP Ireland is required to submit projected figures for the annual production of animal and organic waste each year.
Amendments Made to the License
By now ABP Ireland has been licensed three times: in 1998, 2012, and 2020. Because of the changing environmental demands, each license has undergone a review, and some amendments have been made. Firstly, the 1998 license had fewer conditions than its successor: 13 vs. 12, respectively. Furthermore, the conditions outlined in the 1998 license were more specific while in the 2012 license, some concepts are unified by more general, umbrella terms. For example, in 1998, there existed separate conditions for “Emissions to the atmosphere” and “Emissions to water”; however, 20 years later, these conditions have been combined into “Emissions (Environmental Protection Agency 1998).”
Furthermore, the newer license has become way more elaborate on the control and measuring procedures than its predecessor. Such a shift is indicated by the presence of the whole “Control and Monitoring” condition. In contrast, the 1998 license covered these requirements as small parts of the relevant conditions. It seems as if with time, there emerged the need for more precision in measuring the environmental footprint as well as setting rules regarding the regularity of checks. Apart from that, the newer license puts an emphasis on accident prevention, therefore, taking a more proactive approach toward environmental management. In contrast, in 1998, the focus was on handling existing problems rather than taking preventive measures.
The Company’s Engagement with the Conditions of the License
ABP Ireland is subject to annual inspections the results of which are reflected in AERs (Annual Environmental Reports). The latest report is dated 2019 and concludes that overall, the company has engaged with the license’s condition and made progress toward better sustainability. In particular, ABP Ireland had been able to reduce water consumption from 94,699 to 91,570 m^3 between 2018 and 2019, even though the volumes of production had increased within the time period. However, higher demand for the company’s products resulted in more energy consumption (3789.43 vs 3869 MWHrs for 2018 and 2019 respectively). Water monitoring has shown that none of the chemical compounds and properties (pH, BOD, suspended solids, chlorides, aluminum, and others) exceeded the threshold. In fact, ABP Ireland was able to reduce the contents of aluminum, fat, oil, and grease in water compared to 2018. Yet, there was one complaint that the company received during the reporting year regarding water quality.
Noise monitoring was not a license requirement for the AER period. However, ABP Ireland reported having a noise reduction plan regardless, which included annual noise surveys. The noise reduction plan undergoes regular reviews with the latest dated 2019 (Environmental Protection Agency 2019). The Annual Environmental Report also assessed the corporation’s successes regarding carbon footprint reduction, waste reduction, increased recycling, and improve efficiency wherever possible. It appears that ABP Ireland has reached its 2020 goals ahead of the plan and is currently developing evidence-based targets for the next decade. As for additional improvements, ABP Ireland evaluated biodiversity at the site and noticed its improvement compared to the last year. Furthermore, the company’s preventive measures have paid off because, in 2019, there had not been a single accident that could interfere with environmental integrity.
In ABP Ireland’s understanding, sustainability cannot be “done” because maintaining and improving it is a never-ending process. An advocate for animal welfare and resource efficiency, ABP has been continuously licensed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The company’s main activity is defined as the operation of slaughterhouses with a carcass production capacity greater than 50 tonnes per day. The 2012 EPA license builds upon its predecessor and stresses prevention, control, and monitoring. All Conditions are pertinent to environmental preservation and sustainability, but it is especially true for the parts covering emission, efficiency, and materials handling. The 2019 annual report has shown that ABP Ireland is compliant with the license’s requirements and achieves its goals in time.
Environmental Protection Agency 2019, Annual Environmental Report. Web.
Environmental Protection Agency 1998, Integrated pollution control license. Web.
Environmental Protection Agency 2012, Integrated pollution prevention & control license. Web.