INSPIRING A TASTE, FOR LESS WASTE
CASTELLO'S TASTE FOR LESS WASTE. FROM A MINDSET TO A MISSION
Pay a visit to any of our Danish dairies and you’ll see a team with a relentless focus on continuous improvement – especially when it comes to reducing food waste. This is the story so far.
The mindset of the people working at Castello dairies is that anyone and everyone can bring innovative ideas to the table. Every single day, a group of specialists from production, packaging and team leader groups walk through the dairy with one focus: how to reduce waste. The objective is to find ways to minimize waste – the ultimate goal is to eliminate it entirely. Any idea on how to reduce waste is pinned to a board on the wall for the team to evaluate. It’s become a natural part of the workday at the dairy and everyone is encouraged to contribute. Every idea is assigned to an employee whose job is to ensure it’s properly assessed. If an idea shows promise, it is evaluated more thoroughly. If it’s deemed worth pursuing, it’s approved and initiated – all within a week. Employees are also rewarded if their ideas are approved, keeping personal motivation high.
FROM IDEA TO IMPLEMENTATION – EFFORTLESSLY
At all Castello dairies, it’s a straight path from idea to action. People write their food waste reduction ideas on a piece of paper and put it on the wall. The idea is then discussed and feedback is shared. If an idea isn’t picked, the reason why is always provided. It may be that
the idea was good, but the timing wasn’t right. Every idea, big or small, is saved and brought back to the table in due course.
“It’s not just a success in terms of production and reducing food waste, it’s a success when the people behind the ideas and specialist can see the numbers change immediately after an idea is implemented. It’s motivating,” says Anne Andersen, Operational Support Manager, Troldhede Dairy.
WASTE IS STRICTLY MONITORED
Arla, Castello’s parent company, has ambitious waste reduction targets that have helped sharpen our focus. If food waste goes up, or if anything is out of the ordinary, it’s picked up by our monitoring systems and solutions are put in place – quickly and efficiently.
Until recently ago, individual employees weren’t involved in the strategy and business focus in the same ways as they are today. Today, every employee knows the numbers and the impact of any actions.
“The world is focused on food waste. Everyone is talking about it now. We’ve talked about it and worked with it for decades. To us, it’s nothing new.” - Anne Andersen.
A BASKET OF IMPROVEMENT
One seemingly small idea that had a big impact was a basket to catch cheeses that fall off the conveyor belts. Previously, these cheeses would end up getting thrown out. But the introduction of baskets underneath the conveyor belts to catch falling cheeses has helped Troldhede Dairy reduce waste at that particular station by 50%.
It’s often the simplest ideas that make the biggest difference. Cheese that gets too soft during maturing can’t be packaged. But by covering some of the cheese close to the wall in the maturing room, we were also able to stop it from getting too soft. A simple cover was enough to reduce food waste significantly.
Similarly, an aluminum plate determining the size of the cheese was optimized to ensure that every cheese passing by that particular station would have the same size. If every cheese has exactly the same size, then nothing needs to be thrown away. It’s about thinking big while constantly fine-tuning the machinery to reduce waste.
ONE RAIL TO KEEP EVERY CHEESE IN LINE
At Høgelund Dairy, the addition of a metal rail on one side of the conveyor belts has minimized waste by ensuring the cheeses stay intact throughout their journey. What’s more, the dairy realized that this same conveyor belt needed to run just a little slower to prevent the cheeses from piling up and falling off the belt.
FROM WASTE PRODUCT TO HIGHLY PRIZED
At Gjesing Dairy, the tops of cheeses are removed to ensure they’re all the same size. The cut-offs are then distributed and transformed into cheese powder. Now some companies have come to depend on that product:
“There’s a specific Japanese biscuit company that only wants cheese powder made from cut-offs of Castello Blue Cheese because that distinct taste is a key ingredient in their cheese biscuits. This is just one example of a full production circle where nothing is wasted.” says Sebastian Nielsen, Process Technician, Gjesing Dairy.
The variation in every batch of cheese is determined by the quality and variation of the raw milk, the room temperature, how the lactic acid cultures work on that day, and how the cheese is placed while maturing, just to mention a few factors. Because every cheese and every batch are unique, a reactive and dynamic working process is essential. You can automate the structure and the processes but not the living cultures. Cheeses behave differently every day. The maturing of the cheese can be changed by a .5% difference in the amount of water in the milk.
“We minimize the variation of the individual cheeses and the batches they come in. The less you need to cut off, the less waste you have. The more even the cheeses are in weight and size, the less waste. It’s a daily focus on optimization, even an hourly one.” - Sebastian Nielsen.
If a cheese drops to the floor, it can’t go back on the conveyor belt. But cheeses that would once have been sent directly for destruction can now be transformed into biogas.
Sensitive sensors that seemed like a good idea initially turned out to be the reason why a full production line stopped, resulting in a long line of cheeses dropping to the floor and slowing down production.
“On one of our daily walks around the production area, a colleague identified the sensor as a reason for a lot of problems and came up with a simple solution: replace the sensor with a rocker arm. That seemingly small idea ensured much less waste in an instant.” - Anne Andersen.
THE MATURING ROOM – A SENSORY SAFARI.
In a steamy and moist room, perfectly round Castello cheeses mature. There’s a distinct scent of cheese in the making. It’s sweet and sharp. Your eyes capture an almost colourless room except for the red marks of spices on the white cheese. The floor is wet from the moisture and your ears are filled with the constant monotone rhythm of automatic machinery running steadily. Specialists in special suits stalk the room. Experienced hands are being washed and disinfected countless times. The specialists work confidently but the atmosphere is relaxed. You hear the sound of long-term colleagues chitchatting while laughter breaks over the background noise of the highly controlled ventilation. The room leaves nothing to chance – the flow of moisture is controlled, the placement of the cheese in the room is carefully evaluated. In here, cheese becomes a work of art.
THE CASTELLO DAIRIES AND THEIR PASSIONATE PEOPLE
Troldhede Dairy, Gjesing Dairy and Høgelund Dairy are all located in the lush countryside of Denmark. From the outskirts of Herning and hilly Skanderborg to the beautiful forest-covered surroundings of Vojens in the south, these decades-old dairies have employed locals and helped cement Denmark’s place on the world’s dairy map. Locals work here and grow up here with a heartfelt respect for dairy craftsmanship, farming and natural resources. For many dairy technicians, improving and developing dairy production is a lifelong passion.
THE CASTELLO DAIRIES
FOOD WASTE FACTS
Castello produce its cheeses in three historical Danish dairies: Troldhede, Gjesing and Høglund. All three have been able to significantly reduce food waste in recent years:
- Has reduced waste from 9 % to 6.5 % year to date.
- Cheese waste is transformed into cheese powder
- Discarded cheeses are transformed into biogas
- When cleaning the machinery and robots, the small pieces of cheese sticking to the metal are carefully scraped off and re-inserted into production.
- Introduced baskets underneath conveyor belts that catch falling cheese
- A simple cover keeps the cheese close to the wall from becoming too moist and being discarded
- Optimizing the aluminium measuring plate to ensure all cheese are the same size
- Replacing sensors that were too sensitive to moisture and ensuring production can continue
- Installing a simple metal rail on the conveyor belt to keep the cheese intact
- Dropped cheeses on the floor reduced by five tons