Keeping it clean! - Wray & Nephew moves to meet effluent discharge standards
Struggling to overcome a court-linked shutdown of its factory at Appleton Estate in St Elizabeth, J. Wray & Nephew has spent more than US$1.2 million to implement a closed-loop wash water treatment system at the facility.
According to chairman of J. Wray & Nephew Clement 'Jimmy' Lawrence, this is part of ongoing efforts by the company to reduce its carbon footprint.
"This means that we will take a limited amount of water from the Black River but not discharge any effluent. Instead, we will treat and reuse the water in our factory operations. This solution is best-in-glass, globally and a first for Jamaica," Lawrence told The Sunday Gleaner.
Sugar production at the Appleton factory has been suspended since January when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of fish farming company Algic Jamaica which accused J. Wray & Nephew of discharging effluent from the factory into the river.
J. Wray & Nephew denied the charges, but in April, the Court of Appeal upheld the injunction barring the company until the trial of the case from discharging into the Black or Elim rivers, any trade effluent which does not meet the established trade effluent standards.
With the case set for trial this month, the 2016 crop was cancelled, resulting in major financial losses to cane farmers who supply the factory but with the new environmentally friendly measures in place, Appleton is already looking to ahead to the next crop year.
"We are on track to complete this project and initiate testing before the 2017 crop commences, weather permitting," said Lawrence.
He argued that the company views its agricultural operations as a critical part of the Appleton brand story, and so these will continue as in previous years, but somewhat scaled down.
J. Wray & Nephew has 4,574 hectares of cane lands under cultivation, spanning its estates in St Elizabeth and Clarendon, and the chairman explained how these will be utilised going forward.
"The 2,432 hectares in St Elizabeth remain in full operation with no foreseeable plans for a reduction in the acreage under cultivation. In addition to the lands controlled by J. Wray & Nephew, it is our intention to maintain our relationships with third-party farmers going forward.
"In Clarendon, we operate on 2,142 hectares and anticipate that 1,000 hectares will continue in sugar cane production as part of the company's investment in fully automated irrigation systems.
"Regarding the remaining 1,142 hectares, which are not irrigated, J. Wray & Nephew anticipates it will be leased for third-party operations that will grow cane repurposed to cultivate alternative crops or conveyed to new owners."
Lawrence described the wash-water treatment system as part of the company's growing environmental assets, representing as it does a continuation of the aggressive capital investment programme which began shortly after the company was acquired by the Gruppo Campari.
"Under this programme, upwards of US$14 million has been spent on the creation of a state-of-the-art, world-class infrastructure at all our operating sites - Spanish Town Road, Appleton Estate, New Yarmouth Estate.
"Recently, we commissioned a new waste-water treatment facility at our Spanish Town Road operations with great success. This complements our existing environmental programmes which consist of a solid-waste facility that recycles the waste from production," boasted Lawrence.
"The company has also heavily invested in reducing its carbon footprint by implementing a renewable energy project. Specifically, we have deployed solar panels along the length of production facility to power utilities for 36,000 square metres of building on our South Complex (234 Spanish Town Road)."