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Nairns Oatcakes Case Study Critical Analysis


Minimising their impact on the environment has always been a corporate objective for Nairn's Oatcakes and the company achieved ISO 14001 Environmental Management Certification in 2011.  Nairn’s Oatcakes has been baking delicious and versatile oatcake products since 1888 and is now a household name.  They make sure their production has a minimal impact on the environment and a maximum impact on great taste.

On implementing their EMS, Nairn’s set a target to reduce waste to landfill by 15%. This target was met within months of starting the project and involved ideas, contributions and active participation from everyone, across the entire business, all of which were channeled through a specially appointed Green Team, with representatives from every department.

The Partnership

Nairn’s Oatcakes has achieved excellent recycling figures segregating cardboard, paper, plastic, polythene, packaging and office paper.  However, it has been a successful partnership with William Tracey Group which has seen the environment team at Nairn’s come closer to their goal to achieve zero waste to landfill. 

We carried out an in depth audit of the waste streams produced at Nairn’s 2 Edinburgh premises.  From the audit, a number of waste streams which were going to landfill were identified as recyclable including a variety of sacks and bags previously considered contaminated.  Further, William Tracey were able to advise on more cost effective and carbon friendly uplifts, reducing the pick up of recycling bins from daily uplifts to 1 per week and delivering materials to the company’s  manufacturing and recycling facility (MRF) in Broxburn where waste, which may have otherwise gone to landfill, is further sorted to recover any additional recyclate.

As a result of this partnership, Nairn’s Oatcakes have successfully exceeded their waste to landfill reduction target, with a commitment to set increasingly ambitious targets in the future.  

The Outcomes

One of the most rewarding results of the project came out of one of Nairn’s biggest challenges – disposing of wrapped organic waste.  

Russell explains,

This used to go to landfill, because there was no other way to dispose of it.  However, there have been real advances in the recycling industry and this material now goes to an anaerobic digestor.  It is mechanically stripped down and the organic matter goes into another digestor which creates methane; this, in turn, is used to generate electricity and that goes straight into the national grid.  That’s the great thing about recycling – you see real results.

Food recycling is the latest in a wide range of services to be offered by the William Tracey Group and Nairn’s Oatcakes are now recycling all of their packaged food waste into renewable energy through the process of Anaerobic Digestion.  The process uses cultures of bacteria to break down the food and generate methane gas which is turned into electricity and an organic sludge which is used as fertiliser in the agricultural industry.

Russell Clink Environmental Manager of Nairn’s Oatcakes said:

The partnership with William Tracey has allowed us to approach our recycling operation in a planned and logical manner.  The customer support has been really good, we are not afraid to try different approaches, confident that if something is not working as envisaged we can quickly implement changes as required.

The Future

Nairn’s Oatcakes, who produce around 3.5 million oatcakes per day in their Edinburgh premises, are now well on their way to achieving zero waste status, diverting nearly 90% of all waste produced away from Landfill.

Sending very little waste to landfill means that Nairn’s Oatcakes are also reducing their waste bills and this alone is great for business.  With landfill tax increasing, implementing a recycling plan in your business is a necessity if you wish to avoid further annual increases.

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