Food Safety & Environment



BRC Global Standard for Food Safety (Issue 8), Start Programme 

Transylvania Food Company audited annually by DQS Romania to confirm that we meet the requirements set out in the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety (Issue 8), Start Programme, an entry level programme specifically designed for smaller and developing sites. We are the first micro-enterprise in Romania to achieve this status and our journey has been used by BRC as a case study to promote their standard to small businesses worldwide. 

The BRC Global Standard has become a market leading brand that provides confidence and assurances to the food industry. The standard ensures good manufacturing practice and the safety of food products and was first created in 1998 in response to industry needs. The food standard was designed to ensure retailers wholesalers and brand owners were able to produce safe food products at a consistent quality.  

For further information visit their website at  www.brcglobalstandards.com 

Annual EIA for Wild Harvesting 

Each year we commission an Environmental Impact Assessment for the sustainable wild harvesting of the flowers, fruit and berries we will collect in the coming year. 

Potable Water

We have installed multiple filters to treat the town supply before it is used in our facility. The quarterly laboratory analysis verifies it to be well within the legal limits for potable water.

Wastewater

There is no sewage system in Saschiz and so we have installed our own wastewater treatment plant. The outflow is tested every three months and the results are consistently well within EU limits for discharge into a ditch.

Carbon-reduction Strategy

Our strategy looks at the whole lifecycle of the products and at the business as a whole. It has two elements, the first is on-going and it is to reduce our carbon emissions as much as possible.  The second is to offset our remaining emissions by planting trees.

The annual audit includes all of the fuel used in our vehicles (petrol, diesel and LPG); the fuelwood purchased to heat our premises; the electricity consumed, packaging materials and air travel.

We are innovators and we hope others will follow our example and develop strategies to reduce their carbon emissions.

        Packaging 

In our efforts reduce and even remove single use plastic, we have replaced bubble wrap with Hexcel wrapping paper, now seal our boxes with paper tape instead of plastic, why we use biodegradable shrink wrap for our pallets and recyclable carrier bags made out paper instead of plastic. 

We package our products in jars and bottles made out of glass instead of plastic. 

We have offset contracts in place in Romania to recycle our packaging  materials on the basis that they are disposed of somewhere by our customers. 

        Food Waste Recycling 

We compost all of the waste created from ingredients in our processes. The compost is used in our orchard to suppress weeds around the trees, to conserve moisture, improve soil structure and to provide nutrients.

        Waste Recycling 

We have offset contracts in place to recycle our plastic, metal, glass and paper waste. 

There is an acute need for households to recycle more of their waste and we provide staff training and guidance on what they can recycle. 

        Upcycling 

We upcycle some of our glass bottles, and they are used as glasses for our tastings or as vases for flowers. The upcycled jars are used as serving bowls for our chutneys and jam. What we do not need, the upcycling company sell to other customers. Ceea ce nu putem folosi, este vândut de firma de upcycling altor clienți.

        Electricty

We are by far the largest consumer of electricity in Saschiz.

We are encouraging our staff to turn off lights and appliances  when not in use, but there is a reluctance to accept that electricty is not free, and it will take time. 

We have installed solar panels to generate electricty and with 30kW this will lead to a substantial reduction in our carbon emissions (our peak usage is 40kW), with surplus electricty sold back to the grid for others to use.

        Fuel

We try to minimise the number of vehicle journeys by forward planning daily activities, but there is a recluctance to embrace such efficiency. It will take time. 

        Fuelwood

Wood is the main source of fuel in our local area for heating and cooking. We buy our wood locally from licensed forestry company and in good time so that it is dry by the time we need to use it,  improving thermal efficiency and reducing the quantity of wood required. It also reduces the smoke generated.

        Air Travel

Our CEO and his wife are now taking fewer flights each year and spending longer in Romania on each trip.

Carbon Offset 

When we first looked at carbon-reduction some years ago, we failed to find an accredited auditor in Romania prepared to take on a micro-enterprise. We also failed to find a suitable source of carbon credits that were supervised by a suitably qualified organisation. So instead, we chose Uganda where our CEO har previously worked with the founder of the Uganda Carbon Bureau. Hopefully one day these services will be available in Romania, and we can encourage other companies to follow our example.

In 2020, we achieved CARBON NEUTRAL status following an audit of our greenhouse gas emissions by the Uganda Carbon Bureau.

We offset these emissions by purchasing Plan Vivo credits from the ‘Trees for Global Benefits’ project in Bushenyi, and supervised by ECOTRUST.

As a result of the huge success of this project, it has expanded to Mbale district in eastern Uganda. Many European buyers of voluntary carbon credits have recognised this as a good source of high- quality credits. 

Pivniţa Bunicii  is a social enterprise in Transylvania, who are now also supporting a rural community in Uganda

In 2021, we will continue to support the community in Uganda but also use some of the offset money to buy and plant trees in Saschiz, hopefully creating an example for others to follow.

                                                    

Regenerative Agriculture

Each year we contract a local vegetable grower to produce seedlings of a traditional high flavour tomato variety. These seedlings are distributed to anyone interested and we purchase their surplus production. This heirloom tomato is now listed in the Slow Food Ark of Taste. It was in danger of disappearing as young people were no longer interested to save seed from one year to the next, instead preferring to buy packets of seeds or indeed tomatoes from the supermarket. Creating demand is one of the best ways to secure the survival of endangered varieties, and our tomato chutney is made exclusively from these tomatoes.

Village orchards are an important aspect of the landscape but have been neglected for many years and our efforts are a small step to reverse this trend.

We will continue to plant traditional varieties of fruit trees to regenerate our orchard and then expand into our field. Our apples are made into juice which is sold under the Pivnita Bunicii brand or distilled into schnapps and sold under our Kaspers brand.

We already buy any surplus fruit from the community and by creating demand for heirloom varieties hope to encourage our neighbours to replant as very few have done so since the eighties.

Every Spring we ask our neighbours for the sweepings from the floor of their hay barns which contain not only grass but wildflower seeds. This is spread on our field that had been cultivated for maize until 2018 and already wildflowers are returning, helping the biodiversity to recover.

Our land has been registered as the “Pivnita Bunicii Orchard” on the Restor platform so that we can share our vision and achievements with a wider audience.  

Restor was one of the three finalists in the Earthshot project launched by Prince William. Their aim is to accelerate the global restoration movement by connecting everyone, everywhere to local restoration. Restore connects people to scientific data, supply chains, funding, and each other to increase the impact, scale, and sustainability of restoration efforts

Our vision is to have a scheme in Romania that encourages companies to reduce their emissions, putting a price on carbon that generates local funding for widespread regenerative agriculture. There is a huge amount of agricultural land that is not being used that could easily be planted with trees and funded with carbon credits.

Socio-economic Impact / Corporate Social Responsibility

We buy our raw materials (flowers, fruit & vegetables) from the community and we employ local people to produce our jams, chutney, cordials and gin. Each year we buy over 90mt of raw material, with the value of over RON500,000, and we employ 14 permanent staff with a further 14 employed seasonally.

There is an acute need for households to recycle more of their waste and we provide staff training and guidance on what they can recycle. 

We have approximately 100m of river frontage on our property and we regularly remove the plastic bottles that accumulate along the riverbank.

We provide running potable water to a neighbour, and we have connected another neighbour to our sewerage treatment plant, allowing her to install an indoor flushing toilet and shower.

Governance

Good corporate governance has eight major characteristics which we aim to uphold but which are not very well understood in small rural enterprises.

·         participatory: our managers contribute to the preparation of monthly management reports and actively take part in the discussions and action plans that follow.

·         consensus oriented:  Our managers are encouraged to contribute to the annual business plan and consensus is required for these updates including the setting of the annual budget.

·         accountable: our managers accept annual objectives derived from the budget and are held accountable and rewarded for their achievement

·         transparent: our management reports contain financial information, data that is not often shared with staff

·         responsive: to the present and future needs of society

·         effective and efficient: We have introduced inventory control and financial management software which has greatly improved both the effectiveness and the efficiency of our work.

·         equitable and inclusive:  we recruit based on skill for the job rather than sex or ethical background. Our staff is 60% female.

·         follows the rule of law: we have a zero tolerance on corruption and encourage our staff to tell the truth and uphold the rule of law.

We hope that by following these principles we are providing an example for others to follow.