Haverfordwest-based Totally Welsh delivers quality Welsh milk and milk products to the public sector and corporate and domestic customers across the UK.

Founded in 1990, the company sources Welsh milk from Welsh cows, all within a forty-mile radius of its bottling plant. Totally Welsh customers include supermarkets, hospitals, schools and independent retailers. The firm also offers a doorstep delivery service in South Wales, delivering milk, milk products and breakfast traded goods to thousands of customers.

Having built a strong reputation for the highest quality products and excellent customer service, the company now employs around 100 people and achieved a turnover of £17 million in 2022.

Recycling and reusing have always been at the heart of the company's ethos. As well as reducing food miles by sourcing locally, Totally Welsh takes pride in sourcing sustainable packaging. This year it hopes to start bottling its milk in glass in addition to the recyclable poly cartons it currently uses.

Building on its commitment to sustainability, the business has a long-held ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Keen to make that ambition a reality, the team signed up for the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme Carbon Emission Reduction Pilot in early 2023.

Here, Technical Compliance manager Sara Jones explains how the business has benefited from the pilot programme and shares key lessons from the company's carbon reduction journey.

Tell us how you went about developing your carbon emission reduction plan?
We knew that taking action to reduce our emissions meant firstly understanding and measuring our emissions. The pilot programme uses the world's most widely-used greenhouse gas accounting standard, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. This protocol uses three scopes (or types) to categorise the different emissions a company creates in its operations and across its wider value chain, including suppliers and customers.


So the first step on the journey was to learn more about categorising and measuring our environmental impact. We learned that Scopes 1 and 2 are those emissions owned or controlled by us, whereas Scope 3 emissions are a consequence of our activities but occur from sources not owned or controlled by us. 

Scope 1 covers emissions from sources we own or control directly – for example, from burning fuel in a fleet of petrol or diesel vehicles. Scope 2 are emissions we cause indirectly when the energy we purchase and use is produced. While Scope 3 encompasses emissions that are not created by us and are not the result of activities from assets owned or controlled by us; rather, by those that we are indirectly responsible for, up and down our value chain. An example is buying, using and disposing of products from suppliers.

Once we had learned this, the first step was looking at the various processes and steps we use in our business.  We already had those mapped out in a flowchart for food safety management purposes. This details all the processes associated with our company - from when the milk arrives with us until it is dispatched and delivered. We could pinpoint the processes that significantly impact the environment by reviewing those steps. Closely examining these steps enabled us to consider what impacts we could capture within Scopes 1, 2 and 3.


Without support from the pilot programme, I wouldn't have realised the extent of the data we needed to capture. We would never have come this far so quickly if I'd attempted to undertake this task alone. An example of this is capturing employees' journeys back and forth to work, which I wouldn't have considered. It made sense when I learned about it through working with our dedicated project manager. And that was my most significant learning – to see the bigger picture of our business's impact.


How did you get the data you needed to calculate your baseline emissions?
Fortunately, much of the data was readily discoverable because we're a largely self-reliant company. Because we manage our fleet of vehicles, for example, and collect the milk from farms ourselves, those carbon emissions were easy to calculate.

Due to our production planning and forecasting, we also had a wealth of data available on the units we manufacture. In addition, because we work to various food safety accreditation standards, we have all the details on packaging specifications, which helped us identify recyclable content. It was a pleasant surprise that so much data was there for us. It was just a case of determining who in the business held that data or could gather it for us in the correct format.


What were your biggest challenges or barriers while developing your plan?
We didn't face any significant challenges in gathering data because we had a lot of data available to us within the business. We were very fortunate in that sense. We had key people in various roles in the business that helped us find and collate the data we needed. I do think the time involved was a challenge for us, however. This project required a focused effort. The best part about the pilot programme was having a dedicated project manager working with us and helping us set a critical pathway. This ensured we kept focused and managed to cover much ground quickly. We just wouldn't have had the in-house resources or expertise to achieve as much as we have as soon as we have.


How did you go about involving your team in the process of developing your carbon emission reduction plan?
I tried to lead with lots of enthusiasm because, as a business, we have wanted to do this for a while. I involved the team at every step and clearly explained the end goal. The key was communication – explaining why this is a positive thing for us to work towards, not just in terms of the business benefits but because it is the right thing to do. I then spoke to each member of the team and discovered where their strengths lie. We identified who was best placed to carry out the required tasks and held regular meetings to keep the momentum going. We fully committed to the project, and once we had worked out what was achievable, with the help of our project manager, we went for it.


What are the next steps for your business on your carbon emission reduction journey?
The next step is to undertake a full audit of the areas we've captured within the three scopes I outlined and to look at where we can make further reductions. We also want to closely monitor technological changes, particularly in electric vehicle capability. Our business relies heavily on logistical transport, so as soon as technology allows, we will take advantage of that.  

We will also continue to raise awareness of sustainability within the workforce and assist our team in changing their working methods and patterns to help us achieve our common goal.


What advice would you give to other businesses embarking on a journey to reduce their carbon emissions?
My advice is to commit to it. Demystify the process by reading up about what you're hoping to achieve. There is plenty of advice and support out there. Don't be afraid of barriers that might come up; just work through them one at a time and go for it. You can work out how to get there when you've established your baseline and identified what you need to achieve. Involve your staff from the beginning, as they're your biggest asset. And one last thing – it might be a lot of effort, but if you put the time in, you can be proud of becoming part of the movement to become net zero.


What were the biggest benefits of participating in the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme Carbon Emission Reduction pilot?
We have always focused on sustainability but wanted to take that commitment further. Without the pilot programme, we wouldn't have known where to start. It's given us valuable expertise, a structure for our plan and a clear way forward. It's also helped us increase staff engagement, which was an unexpected bonus. The main benefit was having an expert to guide us, answer our questions, run ideas past, and talk issues through as they arose. Having that access to specialist expertise was invaluable.

To learn more about Totally Welsh, visit here.

Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme


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The Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme is a pan-Wales programme part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

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