Egg producer Lakes Free Range Egg Company Ltd. has been shortlisted in the Sustainable Products and Services category in the U.K.’s 2014 Business in the Community Awards, which champions responsible business.

Lakes is said to have “set the benchmark for the industry for sustainable free-range production” and has been used as a global case study for environmental sustainability by McDonald’s. All the company’s suppliers have bespoke bio-diversity plans and its egg packing facility is likely to become be the first carbon-neutral egg packing factory in the U.K. this year.

Among initiatives highlighted by Business in the Community are that Lakes has reduced the environmental impacts of its operations by cutting waste, reducing energy consumption, and creating renewable energy. It has achieved zero percent waste to landfill, a 50 percent reduction in water consumption, and will generate 100 percent of its energy on-site this year and export renewable energy.

The company’s approach has allowed previously unprofitable farms on disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged land – as defined by the country’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – to make a living and return to families to farming.

More per hen

Business in the Community further notes that the company’s enhanced ranges improve animal welfare and egg production, with hens laying 312 eggs per year, generating GBP2-3 (US$3.40-5.03) more income per bird for the producers.

The company’s producer retention levels have remained high – 90 percent over 15 years, and it has created ethical products demanded by consumers, which has opened the doors to food retailers aligned to their environmentally sustainable beliefs, such as McDonald’s and Sainsbury’s.

Lakes Free Range Egg Company Ltd. chief executive David Brass comments: “Lakes was set up to profitably supply free-range and organic eggs packed to the highest standards and adhering to leading animal welfare, ethical and environmental principles.”

The Business in the Community Award winners will be announced in July.