Saputo Dairy UK

PhD student - Rupert Goddard

Sponsor - Saputo Dairy UK (formerly Dairy Crest)

SupervisorSean Comber

I successfully applied for a PhD at the University of Plymouth that was being sponsored by Dairy Crest (which has since been renamed Saputo Dairy UK following its acquisition by Saputo). Saputo Dairy UK manufactures Cathedral City and Davidstow Cheese as well as specialised ingredients used in infant formula. Saputo has a large cheese production plant in Cornwall, referred to as the Davidstow Creamery, and as part of the production process they treat their liquid waste extensively before it is discharged into a local river. This is monitored and regulated by the Environment Agency.

With plans to increase production levels, Saputo Dairy UK has been liaising with the Environment Agency to review the permits and controls under which they are allowed to operate. My research has been to investigate any up and downstream impacts on the river chemistry and biota associated with the treated discharge from the Creamery. This has included some computer modelling on different scenarios and the subsequent effects, which has been a useful skill for future opportunities. Ultimately, Saputo Dairy UK wants to better understand its relationship with the local river – so that they can take appropriate actions and measures to reduce their impact on the environment.

Benefits for the business: Saputo Dairy UK

The aim of Saputo Dairy UK sponsoring this PhD was primarily to increase our understanding of the potential effects of the discharge of treated Creamery effluent to a relatively small local river on which we rely for both supply of water and to receive our treated effluent.

The PhD has been an important part of enhancing our understanding of the environmental effects on a range of biological receptors including invertebrates and vegetation, both macro and micro. The detailed knowledge of water chemistry and ecology provided by this project has gone beyond our previous internal capabilities and has therefore been educational for our colleagues and a welcome addition to our team.

This work has helped to provide us with a more holistic understanding of our relationship with the river than can be obtained by consideration of Environmental Quality Standards alone (where they exist). In better understanding our relationship with the river helps us to enhance our performance to achieve the collective objective of ‘good’ river status as defined by the Water Framework Directive.

Benefits for the PhD student: Rupert Goddard

I have absolutely loved the post graduate research experience and feel sad to come to the end of this big chapter. I feel that I have had a fantastic supervisory team. This is incredibly important for a good PhD journey. They’re always there to run ideas by and I have a good relationship with them. I am proud of what I have achieved. I never thought I would return to university or was switched on enough to achieve a PhD.

Rupert Goddard, PhD student

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Matt Bardell, Group Sustainability Manager, Saputo Dairy UK

For a business, funding a PhD is a fantastic way to get impartial information and answers to a problem that they don’t have the resources for. A PhD is an economic way of accessing a huge amount of in-kind advice from the academic supervisory team.

Find out more about the PhD with Saputo Dairy UK