A cool summer

FRIDGE BENEFITS: Page MP Janelle Saffin samples one of Norco’s export ice creams while Ian Foote (left), Norco’s general manager and Greg McNamara, Norco chairman, share the shade.
FRIDGE BENEFITS: Page MP Janelle Saffin samples one of Norco’s export ice creams while Ian Foote (left), Norco’s general manager and Greg McNamara, Norco chairman, share the shade.

FOR those dreading the onset of a fearsome summer, the good news is the ice cream from Norco will be colder. And the Lismore dairy cooperative's carbon emissions will be significantly lower.

The installation of a new, super-efficient refrigeration plant at Norco's Union Street factory will reduce its carbon emissions by 500 tonnes. Those figures are roundly endorsed by the Federal Government; the member for Page Janelle Saffin announcing a Clean Technology grant of more than $220,000 for the upgrade. It's just part of the $1.2 million announced for the Page electorate, helping Norco and Harwood Sugar Mill lower their carbon pollution.

"You have to earn it," said Janelle of the grant, which Norco is matching with an investment of more than $440,000.

"The Clean Technology Investment Programs are about helping local manufacturers improve energy efficiency, reduce power bills, improve competitiveness and cut carbon pollution. You have to show innovation and sustainability of the business. When the government introduced the carbon price it wasn't about that alone. It's a package that goes back to the community in various ways. When Norco's energy costs go down, that correlates with lowering carbon."

Chairman of Norco, Greg McNamara, was on hand to show Janelle around the new plant. He said it was only part of Norco's general upgrade.

"We're spending more than six million ourselves. That covers all parts of our business, from processing and packaging to export. It's end to end. We're exporting to North America and Japan, making new lines in ice creams, such as green tea and tropical fruit sorbets. For the grant we had to explain what our business was doing in the long term. We're also upgrading our plant at Raleigh, near Coffs Harbour."

The project is expected to reduce emissions at Lismore and Raleigh by six percent, saving $95,000 in energy costs per year.

"That's what the feds look at too," Ms Saffin said. "We help businesses that have proven carbon sustainability and have transformed their operations to focus on improved efficiency."

"Norco's had a big year," Mr McNamara said. "We've taken back control of our marketing and sales. As an employee of Norco it's good to have control of the business.

"The new plant will be installed by Christmas," he said. "That means our ice cream will get colder quicker, which uses less energy and reduces our carbon output."

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