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Ellie Wood

An introduction to our new Sustainability Coordinator, Ellie Wood


Following the publication of our Sustainability Report, we’re delighted to introduce our new Sustainability Coordinator, Ellie Wood, whose background is in the food industry, who joined us in September 2023.

She has been getting involved, busy visiting the company’s sites, meeting members of the team, and making assessments about our performance from a sustainability point of view. We asked about her first impressions.

“Very positive,” she says.

“The Sustainability Report shows there’s been really meaningful work going on over recent years across many aspects of the business to reduce the carbon footprint. So I could see I was joining a company with a serious commitment to a sustainable future.

It’s good to know that the electricity we buy from the grid for all British Maltings sites is sourced from renewables. There has already been a lot of improvements made in energy efficiency on the sites, including process optimisation and heat recovery in the kilns”.

We asked her about key challenges when it comes to malt production.

“The main thing is that the malting process will always be energy-intensive,” she says.

“Here at Crisp Malt, everyone in the business is highly conscious of the responsibilities that go with this. The tight operational controls help make everything as efficient as possible and reduce or eliminate waste. But the transition away from reliance on natural gas will make the most significant difference.”

According to the Maltsters Association of Great Britain, the UK malting industry alone is responsible for around 300,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions yearly. That’s equivalent to the emissions produced by diesel cars traveling 1,125 million miles. And that’s for production alone.

Add to it the even greater emissions from farming – in the growing and delivering of the raw materials – and the haulage of malt around Great Britain, and it’s a small wonder that maltsters are keen to find ways of significantly reducing their carbon footprint.

Pilots in the malting sector include those generating power from biomass and waste produced on-site and trialing alternative sustainable fuels for HGVs.

“Our production, engineering, and transport colleagues are keeping a keen eye on the outcomes from these and similar initiatives in other industries,” says Ellie.

People have been asking her about the speed of change, and whether more can be done sooner. She says that she is having to explain that there are no magic wands. She says that fast commissioning and installation of new equipment with un-proven technology would involve great risk, and may end up in increasing carbon emissions due to the need for early replacement.

“Look what’s happening domestically. We’re all meant to be replacing gas and oil boilers with heat pumps. The aim is to get rid of fossil fuels and instead use electricity – largely from renewables.

“But there’s relatively low uptake. Even with government subsidies. Even though people want to be as green as possible. Why isn’t everyone dashing out to get a heat pump installed? Well, in addition to the large cost, there are still questions that need answering. People aren’t yet sure that the pros outweigh the cons. They are waiting for further developments in the technology, so that when they do eventually fork out large sums of money, they know they will be getting the best.

“Crisp Malt faces the same issues in moving away from gas. The equipment is hugely expensive to replace; alternative energy sources are still being tested; and the technology is still being developed.

“We obviously want the most efficient, most environmentally friendly, most cost effective, pieces of kit. Without compromising on the quality of malt we produce. Our company values say, “Pass it on Better”. That means investing in apparatus that will help us meet our net zero target by 2045 – and that lasts way beyond that into the future.”

As someone whose job is all about sustainability, Ellie says it is reassuring to find fuel and energy so high on the company agenda and that Jake (Lambert) and his team are on the case.

In a future blog, we’ll be talking to Ellie about the Sustainability Report and some of the other initiatives the company is taking to support its net zero goals. And we’ll look at sustainability and farming, an enormous and fascinating topic in its own right and, of course, a crucial part of our supply chain.

In the meantime, take a look at the Sustainability in Brewing blog by award-winning beer writer Will Hawkes.

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