Cookers’ mission of providing sustainable and environmentally-friendly operations is being assisted greatly through the company’s traceability component.
Self-labelled as “Australia’s most sustainable oil”, bulk oil suppliers Cookers has set a high internal standard for minimising its environmental impact.
Delivering products across all major cities, metro areas and select regional areas nationwide, Cookers has established a unique traceability system by which the company can watch what is coming and going out with each drop of oil.
Hari Srinivas, Cookers National Quality and Safety Manager, says developing the company’s traceability capabilities has opened the door to a new level of quality assurance and control.
“Traceability is very important, especially when you are in a business that works within the food industry,” Hari says. “Basically, every drop that comes in, we can trace it back to the supplier.”
Hari says traceability is an essential aspect of quality assurance. With batches of oil being sent nationwide, having a regulatory system greatly diminishes the chance of a re-call required for a particular product.
“Without being able to trace a product back to the supplier, in the unlikely event of a product defect, I cannot know where the issue first arises or how similar issues can be prevented in the future,” he says.
“For example, if 1000 deliveries of the same batch have been sent out and there is only one customer affected, then that issue is likely circumstantial. But if there are 100 reports of a bad batch then that is a serious issue which then needs to be resolved.”
Traceability also plays a large role in Cookers’ drive to be sustainable. The company can trace back oil products to see how an incident occurred.
“If there is an environmental issue we can go back and trace the origins of the problem, such as what is going into the drain, to work out what happened on any particular site,” Hari says.
This extends to Cookers’ own procedures during the refining and processing stages of used cooking oils from customer supply tanks.
“Everything goes through thorough food safety quality checks before going as fresh oil,” Hari says. “When the used cooking oil comes back to us, we are able to trace the effectiveness of our own processes. This includes how much electricity we are using as well as natural gas to process that used cooking oil to refine the product into animal feed or biofuel. By tracing those aspects, we are calculating Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and it’s impact on the environment.”
Randomised mock-recalls also ensure that quality is maintained throughout the supply chain. Batch numbers are selected at random by Hari and the product assessed, based on a strict criterion.
Robbie Coccaro, General Manager, says the company structure allows for instant feedback to ensure that the effects of a recall or product defect are not felt by suppliers and customers.
“We have developed a centralised system which enables us to engage in a recall or tracing process much quicker than we could previously,” Robbie says.
“For example, in the past it would have taken us one to two days to carry out such a process. We can now do that in under four minutes.”
Robbie says product traceability has also been converted to increase traceability for Cookers staff.
“Our traceability mechanisms in place are used for various situations too. In the current world of COVID-19, we use the same method for tracing Cookers employee movements into customer venues that suddenly get listed as an exposure site,” he says. “Within three or four minutes we can know if a delivery driver has encountered a COVID-19 hotspot. In years gone past it would have been a scramble,” he says. “The ability to trace what we do is phenomenal, particularly from a product point of view.”
Providing end-of-life solutions
Cookers has developed its processes to minimise oil waste once the product has been used by the customer.
Hari says that providing an end-of-life solution for used cooking oil prevents the product from going into drains or ending up in landfill.
“When we deliver fresh oil, the customer will use that product for their cooking application as usual, but after that, the oil is usually finished with and sometimes even put in the sink,” he says.
“We efficiently collect every drop of oil back into Cookers’ system. We have two types of trucks; our stainless-steel range, which is for our fresh products, and our blue-coloured trucks, which are used to collect used cooking oil from storage facilities.
“Once collected, the oil is again refined and dewatered to reassure that it is safe for use in animal feed. It is also made suitable for bio-fuel manufacturing, effectively creating a circular process.”
Each Cookers’ site satisfies strict criteria for national certifications, such as the National Standards for Recycling of Used Cooking Fat and Oils Intended for Animal Feeds and International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC).
Robbie says that achieving both certifications is a reflection of Cookers’ dedication to sustainable and environmentally friendly operations.
“If everything is running smoothly, we are reducing our impact on the environment at every level,” he says. “We are always trying to challenge our staff to use less paper, reduce touch points and achieve optimisation to reduce our fuel use, and reduce our emissions in our day-to-day operations.
For more information, visit:www.cookers.com.au