Evolution In The Potteries

Dudson is a fundamental part of the history of the Potteries where it has been making beautifully crafted pottery for over 200 years and is the oldest surviving family business in the ceramic foodservice tableware industry. Kathy Bowry reports on the company’s great leap forward into a sustainable new world.

Dudson, the big name in British foodservice ceramic provision, has for many years adopted a proactive approach towards the environment, demonstrating commitment to waste minimisation, energy and water efficiency and a safer working environment in line with the company’s Environmental Management System. Now, working closely with Endeka Ceramics Ltd., the company has developed a range of ceramic hospitality tableware, Evolution, that has the lowest carbon footprint of any ceramic hospitality tableware manufactured anywhere in the world.

Evolution is an apt name for the new sustainable range, as its development has almost certainly changed the way ceramic ware will be produced in the future: the amount of carbon produced in the manufacture of the product is 79 per cent lower than that produced in the manufacture of an equivalent porcelain product**.

As Marketing Manager, Katie Dudson, explains: “Most ceramic hospitality tableware (although there are a few exceptions) is fired at least twice – once from clay to biscuit stage, then a second time after the glaze has been applied. With Evolution, there is only one firing process, significantly reducing the amount of energy needed to produce it and lowering Dudson’s carbon footprint. In addition, the 100 per cent lead free ThermECO* glaze, which is used on all Dudson ceramics, requires a lower firing temperature, so again the amount of energy used is reduced.”

Produced entirely in the UK in Stoke-on- Trent, Evolution is a brand new ceramic body, developed with the prime objective of reducing the carbon footprint created during manufacture. Featuring variance in colour and glaze and with the hand-made appearance of thrown pottery, every piece is different.

“The effects of climate change are now clearly apparent and well-documented, so today’s business conscience demands the implementation of proactive initiatives to preserve the planet’s resources. Our modern methods of manufacture are transforming a product that has traditionally been costly to the environment,” says Katie Dudson. ThermECO glaze enables firing at a lower temperature, while efficient ‘bung firing’ ensures the maximum number of items is placed for each firing, reducing the frequency of fires. Fast-fire kilns, used whenever possible, use less energy and burn more efficiently than more traditional methods of firing and can be turned off when not in use. The greater durability of the ceramics fired this way means lower replacement rates and therefore less impact on the environment. As with all Dudson ceramics, any unfired pieces that are broken or imperfect can be 100 per cent recycled into manufacturing processes.

As a non-polluter, Dudson’s waste streams have been redefined so that recyclable materials are easily filtered and therefore less waste goes to landfill. Through ongoing identification of areas of the business where the production of waste has a significant impact, the company continually seeks to reduce, re-use and recycle. Since 2005, Dudson has reduced its mould waste by 41 per cent, and general waste collections have fallen by almost 69 per cent over the same period. Inert waste (i.e. waste that cannot degrade or be burned, such as rubble) has been reduced by a massive 81 per cent.

Dudson Sales Manager Steve Walton adds: “We are so committed to recycling that when an operator needs to replace its Dudson range we will pick up the old crockery and it can be reground by a local tile company for making tiles.”

Katie Dudson is proud of the company’s British heritage and with an eye to the Olympics in 2012, when the attention of the world will be focused on us, she feels it is the ideal platform to show off what is best in British manufacture. “At a major event like 2012, we should care that as many products as possible are produced within the UK. It provides the perfect opportunity to showcase British design and the ‘Made in England’ brand to a worldwide audience. ‘Sourced locally’ has been the revolution in food supply, and we are seeing an increased interest in our products as many clients prefer to buy British manufactured tableware. The local sourcing revolution extends into more aspects of food service than just food and drink.” As Walton says: “Evolution has been very well received and would be the ideal product for hospitality areas at the Olympics as it is a British manufactured product, is produced in a sustainable manner and fits the brief for a sustainable 2012 event.”