Achieving Better Water Practices

Angel Bay sources more than 95% of our pure New Zealand beef and lamb from processing plants operated by its parent company, ANZCO Foods. This makes us directly responsible for the sustainable and responsible use of water from farm to plate.

ANZCO Foods has been looking for ways to limit waste and lead the way regarding responsible water use across our regions. We’re in an ongoing sustainability conversation between producers, regulatory bodies and communities in New Zealand as well as being part of the Climate Leaders’ Coalition and Sustainable Business Council.

In this article, we look at three pilot projects we’ve undertaken to protect this precious resource, to ensure our behaviour is sustainable and that our environment is respected and protected.

Detailed Rangitikei data improves water use

In March 2022, our ANZCO Foods Rangitikei team started a six-month pilot project to gather detailed information on water use at the site. Nationally, ANZCO Foods already measures water use at a high level. With this new information, we want to better understand water use and look for ways to reduce it. 

The pilot project at Rangitikei collected detailed and real-time information on water use across a number of strands and metrics. This included the use and amount of water by departments at the site and the key times water was used. 

This additional information helped the team on-site to drill down into the amount of water being used, as well as providing important benchmarks for other ANZCO sites. 

This approach is being implemented at other sites to make changes that reflect our sustainability goals. Using the data collected, which is updated on a dashboard in real-time, we’re enabling better and more sustainable decision-making around water use. 

Outcome: Significant reductions in our water use and waste.


Optimised water recycling at ANZCO Foods Rakaia

In 2020, our Rakaia site started a pilot project to recycle pelt-wash water in response to a requirement to reduce wastewater use during winter when ground moisture levels are higher. 

The Rakaia team installed a reticulation pump onsite to recycle the water through the pelt wash and reduce the water volume used during the process. The plant’s groundwater is cold enough to sufficiently cool and rinse the pelts with no impact on quality.

Outcome: 13% reduction in onsite water use


Reducing nitrogen in wastewater

Our third pilot project began in 2018 when ANZCO Foods Canterbury started a project to reduce nitrogen in its wastewater. 

  1. To ensure compliance with resource consent requirements.
  2. To better understand the issues.
  3. To assess options to improve effluent outputs from the site.

The resource consent specified the amount of water that could be drawn into the site and the amount we could discharge, with the wastewater used to irrigate two farms (520ha), one adjacent to the site and one 10km away. The site creates about 5,000 cubic metres of wastewater daily when processing at capacity. 

The trial focused on capturing real-time wastewater data and understanding the drivers causing the high-nitrate levels. New effluent management systems with in-depth reporting of wastewater volumes were installed, and best practices were put in place in processing areas to reduce unwanted waste.

A vital part of the project’s success was ensuring the local team was involved and engaged in all aspects of the project, with information regularly shared with neighbouring farms and the regional council Environment Canterbury.

Outcome: Ensured compliance and decreased total nitrogen output by 27.6%.

ANZCO sites constantly review water usage and implement actions to ensure minimum waste. Other site initiatives include:

  1. Repairing leaks immediately
  2. Installing flow restrictors and sensors
  3. Reviewing water volume used
  4. Frequency to reduce water use to become more sustainable
  5. Meeting welfare and processing requirements

We want to lead the way with initiatives that reduce water waste and improve the quality of our wastewater. Part of our pledge to be a Tumu Whakarae (dependable leader) is to positively navigate environmental legislation changes and look to nourish and protect the land we work on as well as the communities we work with.


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