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UK: Alara named first food company to go zero waste

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

Alex Smith has just been named a London Leader of Sustainability, a position forwarded by the Major of London. His role is to inspire and show other companies how to go green. This comes on the back of his company, Alara, one of the UK’s largest muesli producers. Alara was the first organic cereal company in the world and the first food company in the country to go ‘Zero Waste’. Alara now produces over seventy tonnes of a muesli a week and has just been named as Green Business of the Year at the Fast Growth Business Awards. 

(Picture: Alex Smith)

Just behind Kings Cross station Mr. Smith has been battling to try and do his bit to save the planet and to prove to the rest of the UK how a large commercial food enterprise can be both green and profitable. It seems to have worked. ‘Zero Waste’ means nothing is thrown away, whether it is scraps from the canteen being put on the wormery instead of into the bin, or creating a box sharing scheme with other local companies. Alara has also made a pledge to be carbon neutral by 2010 and the company is well on its way to achieve this with installations including a small wind turbine standing on top of one of their warehouses and movement sensitive lighting inside.

Alex is now traveling around the country lecturing to other companies on how to go Zero Waste. Perhaps most exciting, however, is another of Alex’s pledges, which is to bring more wasteland into active food production. Alara has already set an example of how this can be done by creating a permaculture garden (picture to the left), which is an effective way of producing food in a small area, for its employees and the local community to enjoy.

Built on a piece of wasteland behind their warehouses, over fifty tonnes of rubbish were removed to produce a wonderful garden and green space, simultaneously helping offset carbon emissions and providing a community focus point with Alara as its flagship. Community and employee participation in the garden is encouraged and organic values are promoted. The garden acts as a real time illustration of the benefits of waste reduction and investment in one’s environment. With everything from pomegranates to honey produced in the garden, the values and rewards of organic hard work are taught, lessons which Alara hope will be translated into the lives of the local community.

Not only does Alex hope to replicate this throughout the UK, already in talks with County Councils and Bookers Cash on Carry in respect to converting wasteland they own into food producing green spaces, so that everyone can enjoy these new gardens and their organic produce, but he also hopes to show how green energy can be produced directly from them for commercial use. In Alara’s garden an anaerobic digestion system is currently being planned, gas production from rotting plants is used to produce energy. This is the first time this has been tried on a small commercial scale and it has drawn significant interest from national bodies hoping it will offer a green energy source for companies up and down the country.

Alex has set up the company with 2 £ found on the street whilst squatting in protest of a large commercial development. Now has already achieved a huge amount in his struggle, and although his intentions are far from commercial, he is now reaping the rewards of his hard work. The company's newly launched Into the Garden range (picture) consists of six products - Goji & Yacon, Date with Cacao, Fruit, Seed & Spice, Very Berry, Gluten Free with Goji & Yacon and Active and has already received numerous awards.  The mueslis have been packed in a recyclable box - cardboard from sustainable resources - and a bag made of Super-Eco film, which is completely biodegradable within 18 months. They have just been launched in Waitrose and Morrison's and are also available from an online store, through various other retailers in the UK and abroad.



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