Halen Môn Anglesey Sea Salt – Resource Reduction and Biodiversity Enhancement

The Dŵr Cymru Environmental Leadership Award, Winner 2016

Halen Môn has moved into a purpose-built new saltcote (salt factory) on the Isle of Anglesey. With built-in cost savings, the world famous sea salt is now more efficient to produce than ever before.

Good for business

  • Gas and electricity consumption reduced from 26% to 22% of direct production costs.
  • Retail sales direct to the customer increased by 211%.

Good for the environment

  • The new saltcote is designed and built to fit in with the area of natural beauty it is located within.
  • Building in energy efficient salt production means the amount of energy consumed will be kept low.

Halen Mon Anglesey Sea Salt logo

Overview

Out of a shared love for the beautiful Isle of Anglesey, Alison and David Lea-Wilson set up Halen Môn in 1997 to resurrect the island’s 18th century craft of sea salt making. Today, Halen Môn continues to be a family run business. Its pure, white hand-harvested sea salt crystals and blends are sold across the globe and served in some of the world's finest restaurants.

In 2014, the company was awarded Protected Designation of Origin status (PDO) putting Halen Môn in the same company as champagne, Parma ham and Stilton cheese. In 2015, the company moved into a £1.2 million purpose built saltcote.

After eight years in temporary facilities, the firm secured planning permission and a financial package to build a 998 square metre purpose-built saltcote.

Visitors to Anglesey can see how Halen Môn is produced first hand at the company’s new visitor centre, which has recently opened to the public and offers guided tours and tasting sessions.

The saltcote was built with backing from the AONB Sustainability fund the Lottery Coastal Communities fund, Finance Wales, the Welsh Government, the Fisheries Local Action Group, the directors, as well as HSBC.

Background

Halen Môn is careful about where it gets it sea salt and who harvests it. The firm’s Soil Association certified process is a blend of craft working - harvesting Halen Môn by hand - and use of hi-tech equipment to improve its environmental and financial performance. 

Although its new saltcote cost around £1.2m to build, the company considers this reasonable given the long-term 50-year design life of the project is considered. The project started when the planning permission for the temporary units Halen Môn had been using came to an end and the firm had to come up with a more permanent solution.

Halen Môn’s new saltcote

The new building, which looks much better than the temporary premises Halen Môn was previously using, has allowed the salt producer to reduce energy costs by installing fans and humidity controls and by insulating pipes. Products which were previously treated as waste are now sold as co-products and represent some 12% of the company’s sales. Almost all components of the process are recyclable.

Being in control of packaging has allowed Halen Môn to reduce recyclable plastic in packaging by 5% and cardboard sent for recycling has reduced by 15%. No waste at all from the new plant goes to landfill.

Environmental impact

More than a quarter (26%) of the project’s cost went on environmentally economical elements of the saltcote which would reduce ongoing energy consumption and improve local biodiversity.

Gas and electricity expenditure represented 29.5% of direct production costs for the firm in 2013/14. This is the highest business cost after labour and the new plant enabled Halen Môn to reduce energy consumption per kilo of salt produced by 2% year on year. 

From the building Halen Môn can now produce, package, warehouse and dispatch its salt. The building also serves as marketing tool for the company, offering a visitor centre and tour as well the offices and staff facilities.

What the owners of Halen Môn said:

“Sustainability is not a separate strand to a business it runs through everything we do. It improves our environment, makes us feel better about ourselves and gives our customers another reason to buy our hand-harvested sea salt”. - Alison Lea-Wilson, Owner (Sales, Product Development, Human Resource Director)

“I believe climate change is the biggest challenge our civilisation faces over the next 50 years. It is incumbent on leaders to provide carrots before the environment adds sticks. We need to reach a tipping point where environmental best practice is normal not exceptional.” - David Murray Lea-Wilson, Owner, Halen Môn