VIBES Award: Management SME


  • A common sense approach to efficiency has led to a 70% reduction in gas unit consumption compared to production and a 30% reduction in electricity unit consumption compared to production.
  • Minimised waste and reduced water usage and effluent generation to allow decommissioning of effluent treatment plant.
  • An 80-tonne reduction in product packaging per year through working with their retail customers.

Freshlink Foods is a frozen food manufacturer based in the east-end of Glasgow. Customers include multiple retailers (e.g. Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s) and catering facilities. The company presently employs 145 staff producing approximately 500 tonnes of frozen sausages and formed meats per week.

The VIBES panel found Freshlink Foods to be an outstanding example of how low and no-cost measures can result in significant economic and environmental improvements, and found that all activities on site reflect the company’s commitment to the protection of the environment, the workers and the surrounding community, mainly through the following:

  • all cardboard is now recycled on site and waste pallets are sent for chipping;
  • the turning off of equipment when it’s not in use;
  • only full loads are allowed to enter or leave the site, keeping noise and disruption to the local community to a minimum, as well as reducing emissions with 134 fewer vehicle movements a year;
  • the company is developing a landscaping programme to improve the biodiversity of the site;
  • all employees receive training on environmental issues at their induction;
  • working in partnership with the Cycle to Work scheme;
  • supporting a local homeless group with products from the facility that are nearing the end of their shelf life.

The business has achieved impressive economic savings through a common sense approach to resource efficiency. These savings have been made through a 70% reduction in gas consumption by changing from two boilers to one, a 30% reduction in electricity consumption and working with customers to reduce the packaging of their products, resulting in an 80 tonne reduction per year.

Perhaps most significantly, waste minimisation practices within the processing areas have improved the waste going to drain by so much that an existing waste water treatment plant is no longer required and has been decommissioned, making significant savings for the company.

Two automated packaging machines were bought in 2011 with the aim of reducing packaging by approximately 100 tonnes. Freshlink Foods are working with customers to reduce the size of cardboard outer packaging with the new equipment, which will also reduce the cost of printing and the cost of recycling. This new machinery has reduced packaging waste by around 25 tonnes and has reduced cardboard use by 80 tonnes per year, increased production efficiency and reduced transport use, allowing more efficient loading.

It was very obvious to the VIBES judges that there was commitment to business efficiency at all levels; from senior management to staff on the factory floor, which is based on strong business logic and cost efficiency drivers. There is a commitment to environmental improvement outlined in their Mission Statement, with the Environmental Policy addressing objectives in more detail. Senior management show involvement in the environmental team which has a cross discipline approach.

VIBES found the team on site to be passionate about continual improvement in all aspects of the business and support all staff to assess and improve practice. Training has been provided to key members of staff, with specialised teams established to address specific issues. This includes a Waste Team which is responsible for monitoring, reporting and identifying sources of waste. Staff have a very positive and constructive rapport with senior management who are considered approachable on any issue.

Freshlink employs 80% of its workforce locally, with most staff serving for 10 years or more at the site. As a result, many staff walk to work, minimising transport impacts from commuting. The company has also resolved noise complaints from the local community and now undertakes noise surveys every three years demonstrating its key relations in the local community.

Overall, the VIBES judges found that Freshlink shows highly commendable environmental activity supported by the strong investment in its staff and local community ties. It takes a balanced and common sense approach to all aspects of improvement processes, giving consideration to both the economic and environmental benefits.