Sustainability at Walkers Shortbread
As a family run business for over 100 years, Walkers has always maintained its faithful commitment to its home grown roots in the stunning Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands, ensuring a conscious concern for the food we produce, the welfare of the local workforce, working environment and its important relationships with local suppliers and businesses.
Being one of the largest employers in a small area, the Walker family have developed a social responsibility and mutual interdependency with the local community. People are at the heart of our business and it has always been natural for Walkers to operate in a caring fashion by looking after our workforce. Many contemporary attitudes to business are practices that Walkers have been carrying out for over 100 years.
Walkers are continually striving to develop strong social and environmental policies that ensure the Company continues to meet the many international standards for product safety whilst simultaneously protecting the environment and their workforce.
Business Specific Achievements
- Walkers shortbread is baked with no genetically modified ingredients, artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or hydrogenated fats.
- The Company is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, for sourcing palm oil from sustainable forests. All the Palm Oil Walkers use is certified sustainable and for this reason our products have been recognised by the Rainforest Foundation.
- No bovine growth hormones or antibiotics are given to the free range grass fed dairy cows that produce the rich, creamy milk that becomes the butter used in our shortbread recipe.
- 100% vegetarian; no animal fats are used in any of Walkers recipes. The Company is also a member of the Vegetarian Society.
- Raw ingredients sourced as locally as possible.
- Support local trades, businesses and charities.
- Certified to produce Organic products by the Soil Association.
- Committed to the Ethical Trading Initiative.
- No hardened vegetable oils are used in our chocolate.
Our Head Office - Aberlour House
Aberlour House is the head office for Walkers Shortbread Limited. It is an attractive category A listed Georgian building and it sits next door to our factories on the edge of the village.
The house was originally a home at the centre of a large estate and was used as the headquarters for the Gordon Highlanders 51st Division during the war. For 50 years it was used as a prep school for pupils going on to Gordonstoun until they incorporated the junior school into the Gordonstoun campus in September 2004.
Walkers have meticulously restored the building, as far as possible, to its former condition and the local community were very pleased to see the building saved for the enjoyment of future generations.
The grounds at Aberlour House also have stables, grazing land for horses and an orchard which produces a good crop of apples for employees and residents at the local retirement home. The gardens are available to the local scout troupe for their annual camp and to pupils from Aberlour High School for field work in rural studies. Over the years Walkers have invested in farmland and woodland in the local vicinity around the village and Aberlour House, to help protect the local environment and take great pride in managing this land in a sustainable fashion.
To maintain the land and gardens around the factories in Aberlour, Walkers employ an estate manager and three gardeners. The woods are professionally managed by Scottish Woodlands and there are footpaths through the trees, allowing access for the local community to enjoy walking, cycling, bird watching, running, pony-trekking and orienteering.
The grounds are rich in biodiversity with a full range of native plants and trees as well as a diverse array of wildlife including such species as red squirrel, badger, roe deer, pine martin, fox, buzzard, heron, woodpecker, bats and owls.
Walkers Shortbread has been located within the same small community of Aberlour for the last four generations and several generations of local families have been employed over that time. The Company has a relatively low employee turnover and firmly believes, where at all possible, in promoting from within the existing workforce and providing the necessary training and support.
The Company has a core workforce of approximately 1,200 and this number is increased with the addition of up to 450 seasonal workers during peak production periods. Traditionally Walkers works a 2-shift operation with night-shift and weekend work utilised when required.
Walkers Shortbread is a major local employer in the Moray area, with around a quarter of the workforce being foreign nationals who have settled in the area. Company inductions, in-house training, health and safety information and general factory instructions are also provided in different languages.
Walkers Shortbread operates four factories in Aberlour and two in nearby Elgin.
An energy efficient, induction lighting programme has been implemented. The LED and induction lighting uses 50% less energy than conventional lighting. LED lighting also reduces the number of lighting units required by nearly 40%, resulting in much lower energy and resource requirements to meet our lighting needs.
Energy efficient condensing boilers have been installed in three of our four factories at the Aberlour site giving a 40% energy efficiency saving compared to traditional boilers.
Continual improvement by Walkers Shortbread means that the fourth factory is in the process of being upgraded to a modern condensing boiler.
The regional village bakery has been adapted as a test bakery for new product development in support of the business.
As part of the Company’s on-going commitment to environmental improvement Walkers have recently installed 80 solar panels on the roof of the newest factory. They are currently producing clean, green renewable energy for the site.
It is a 20 kW system and is on target to produce an average of 13,000 kWh (units) of electricity per annum. The panels will continue to produce electricity and have a life expectancy of 25 years or more.
This system of PV (photovoltaic) panels will save up to 1.4 tonnes of CO2e from being released into the atmosphere each year.
Walkers have achieved the following certificates which demonstrate a high level of competence and consistency in each category:
- Certified to the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety (Grade A), the international food standard (Higher Level), FSSC 22000.
- Certified to quality standard ISO 9001.
- Certified to health and safety standard BS OHSAS 18001:2007.
- A compliant member of SEDEX, (The Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) and audited on a regular basis.
- Recipient of the Good Egg Award from the Compassion in World Farming organization for using only eggs from free range chickens in our Fruitcake recipes.
- Walkers’ shortbread, biscuits and oatcakes are certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union.
- The gauges for film, cardboard, tin plate and plastic have all been reduced where permissible and practicable.
- Extensive work carried out on reductions to both primary and secondary packaging.
- The cardboard for selected cartons is sourced through the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure sustainability.
- Use of recycled tinplate.
- Plastic (rPET) - includes a recycled content in excess of 50% and can be recycled.
- Members of the government controlled CCA (Climate Change Agreement) since inception in 1998 and all energy reduction targets have been met. From 2016 to 2018 reporting period we have reduced our carbon emissions (CO2e per tonne of production) by 3.8%.
- Audited by the Carbon Trust.
- Electricity use monitored every half hour to identify areas for improved efficiency.
- Building management systems installed in our two newest factories.
- Changed oven fuel from oil to gas reducing carbon emissions.
- Reduced wasted ‘heat up’ and ‘cool down’ times to achieve optimum oven temperatures only when needed for baking.
- Specialist oven survey has been carried out to save energy, whilst ensuring optimal performance.
- Where possible energy efficient control systems are fitted to existing / new machinery, for example motor inverters and soft starts for fans.
- All air compressors are fitted with new variable speed drives.
- Heat recovery system has been integrated into the compressed air system, in one of the factories.
- 95% of total waste currently recycled.
- Paper, cardboard, food waste, plastic, metal, aluminium, tins and wood all recycled.
- Food waste recycled for animal feed; and fat processed for use as agricultural fertiliser.
- Director set, annual Company objectives, to reduce and review waste.
- Wastewater Treatment Plant: We have recently invested in a substantial treatment plant to process wastewater collected at our Aberlour site. This is to ensure that we comply with the limits set by Scottish Water.
- Fitted timers, auto taps and spray nozzles to hand-wash stations in processing areas.
- Changing water arrangements has minimised as far as practically possible the volumes of water used per annum, while maintaining high hygiene standards.
- Toilet-flush reduction programme implemented.
- Water use monitoring programme.
- Water readings are recorded weekly.
- Full compliance with government controlled waste water regulations.
- Water use is monitored weekly against production figures.
- Complimentary bus travel arranged for around 600 shift employees each day, to and from work. Implement full-load deliveries and full usage of back-fill on return journeys when possible.
- Utilisation of local hauliers whenever possible.
- Speed limit restrictors fitted on fork-lift trucks .
- Responsible driving training for staff to ensure safety and improve economy. (Driver CPC - Certificate of Professional Competence).
Green Apple Environmental Award – September 2013
Walkers Shortbread won a Green Apple Environmental Award in the national campaign to find Scotland’s greenest companies, councils and communities. Walkers won the Gold Award for the Food & Drink sector.
The award was granted in recognition of Walkers’ commitment and progress over the last 15 years in implementing our successful environmental and energy-reduction programme.
As part of a national campaign to find Scotland’s greenest companies, Walkers was awarded a much-coveted Green Apple Environmental Award in 2013, recognising the companies commitment in implementing a dedicated environmental and energy-reduction programme which, amongst other achievements, has seen the company recycle 95% of its total waste, reduce its carbon emissions by 17% and make an annual road mileage saving of over 3 million miles through a complimentary bus service for over 600 factory employees.
Walkers competed against more than 100 other nominations in the Scottish Green Apple Awards and were presented with a trophy and certificate at a glittering presentation ceremony at Edinburgh Zoo on 2nd September 2013.
The Green Apple Environment Awards were launched in 1994 by The Green Organisation and have become well established as one of the most popular environmental campaigns in the world. The awards are well established as one of the major environmental recognition schemes, both in the UK and Internationally.
The Green Organisation is an independent, non-political, non-activist, non-profit environment group dedicated to recognising, rewarding and promoting environmental best practice around the world.