… is a regional initiative of the Danone Ecosysteme Fund supporting sustainable supply chains.
The growth of the rural economy through the development of a regional value chain that extends from a farmer owned forestry group to biomass consumers…
The Vulcan Project is a partnership between Danone Wexford and Kilkenny Leader Partnership, faciltated through the Danone Ecosysteme Fund. The objective is to create a sustainable eco-system of farmers who will harvest timber for commercial use. By tapping into a largely unexploited natural resources – timber – a commercially viable business opportunity will be created for local families. This will lead to the creation of 65 new jobs associated with forest owner groups and generate additional revenue for 400 farming families.
The Vulcan Project concept began when the team at Danone in Wexford had an ambition to become the first carbon neutral factory operating within the company’s baby nutrition division. They set themselves a challenge to find a new and innovative way to generate the heat required to run the factory. This would be achieved by using the principles that govern Danone Ecosysteme Fund, which aims to strengthen and expand the company’s economic and social environmental impact by contributing towards job creation, skills development and an increased access to micro enterprise. It was critical that this could done in a sustainable manner which would also create value for the local community.
As part of its ambition to achieve carbon neutrality, a new woodchip boiler was installed to supply high pressure steam to the factory.
Parallel to Danone’s work, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership had been supporting a biomass value chain in Co. Kilkenny. This involved the sustainable supply of quality biomass from local farmers and construction of small district heating systems to heat community buildings.
Kilkenny LEADER Partnership deliver the LEADER programme – a community-based rural development programme, which mirrors the social and econ
omic objectives of Danone’s Ecosysteme Fund. The LEADER programme aims to lead and facilitate the creation of an integrated local development strategy to improve the economic, social and cultural quality of life of the people, communities and small enterprises in local areas. Kilkenny Leader Partnership have a number of goals including;
- The promotion of the renewable energy sector
- Supporting ‘small holder’ (lower income) farmers
- Promotion of sustainable environmental practices and the growth of local enterprise
When Danone became aware of Kilkenny LEADER Partnership’s work, they approached the company to discuss the expansion of their county based project into a regional biomass value chain that would supply their factory and other consumers in the region.
As a result, Danone and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership created the Vulcan Project. The core concept being the creation of farmer owned commercial entities to drive the harvesting, processing and marketing of timber. A number of these local producer groups have merged to develop into a sustainable business and are supplying a range of biomass and timber products for domestic, industrial and agricultural customers. Danone have also committed to purchase the wood fuel for their boiler from the forest owner groups participating in the project – thus providing an ‘anchor tenant’ to the start-up.
Inspired by nature, fuelled by nature, powered by communities and funded by the public and private sector the Vulcan project is an ideal example of how a thoughtful approach can deliver environmental, economic and employment benefits for companies, communities and their partners.
- The Vulcan Project is a partnership between the Danone factory in Wexford, Danone’s Ecosystem eFund and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership to create a sustainable eco-system of local farmers to exploit the growing demand for timber products and create a long-term commercial opportunity for the region.
- The Vulcan project was inspired by the Danone factory in Wexfords’ ambition to become the first carbon neutral site within their division, and in doing so to find a new and innovative way to generate the steam required to run the factory in a sustainable manner while creating value for the local community.
- The Vulcan Project is driven by the ambitions of Kilkenny Leader Partnership to grow the rural economy and sustain rural communities.
- To support its carbon neutral ambition Danone has installed a new woodchip boiler to supply high pressure steam to the factory. As the Vulcan Project progresses the woodchip for the boiler has been purchased through the forest owner group.
- The project seeks to grow the consumption of biomass over the next three years.
- This growth will support the creation of 65 new jobs through the establishment of five forest owner groups – creating a new revenue stream for 400 lower income farming families.
- The Vulcan Project is funded by the DANONE EcoSysteme Fund, the Danone plant in Wexford and the Rural Development Programme.