UK company wins award for plastic-saving and carbon-reducing system for dairy hygiene products

A system of re-using packaging for dairy hygiene materials and ensuring stream-lined and timely delivery of supplies has attracted a top innovation award. Part of the national dairy industry CREAM awards, the 2023 Innovation Award went to Lancashire-based G Shepherd Animal Health.

Vet Graham Shepherd, who founded the company in 2008, has been instrumental in developing a system for re-using barrel-type containers, for producing more concentrated dairy chemical and hygiene products and for more streamlined delivery on to dairy farms. Named Plasti-Save™.

“The system can achieve significant savings,” says Dr Shepherd. “We’re aiming for   20 re-uses from each plastic barrel, and delivering more concentrated products, where possible, reduces the transport of these materials.”

The re-use of containers for the company’s teat disinfectants, that promote cow udder hygiene, started in August 2021, followed by its concentrated BactoBAN dairy cleaning chemicals in September 2022.

Dr Shepherd has piloted the scheme and carried out a study with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) to ensure its effectiveness in re-use of packaging materials, and has shown a reduction in carbon use of 99% from re-using the packaging. “And at the end of its lifespan, the packaging material can be recycled,” he adds.

“We’ve also estimated that our concentrated plant cleaning chemicals can save 33% on package requirements and delivery mileage, which both contribute to a reduced carbon footprint in the supply chain.”

The company will add a remote level sensing technique for monitoring its chemical and hygiene product use on farm. This combines a sensor fitted to the rim of each container linked to a SIM card and app. which allows the company to monitor levels from its offices and arrange the delivery of supplies more effectively.

“We can manage supplies and streamline our transport, and also ensure farmers have materials as required, helping to safeguard animal health and milk hygiene.”

G Shepherd Animal Health quote the key benefits of its new Plasti-Save system as:

  • Improved animal health and food quality (udder health, milk hygiene)
  • Nearly two tonnes less plastic per 1,000cows a year (equivalent to eight tonnes of CO2
  • Approximately 33% less product volume required which reduces transport miles by 33%
  • More transport efficiency with improved delivery routes
  • Improved farm cleanliness from less waste plastic

The total plastic use for dairy chemicals on UK dairy farms is estimated to be 2,277 tonnes per year. The study at UCLAN shows just one re-use cycle saves more than 99% of the CO2.

“We have estimated that by using more concentrated chemicals and re-using containers the plastic use for a 200-cow herd can be reduced by 395kg a year. On a national scale for 1.1million cows this equates to a reduction of 2,173 tonnes of plastic a year. This would be a significant and important contribution to reducing the carbon footprint in the UK dairy industry,” says Dr Shepherd.

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