sustainability policy

As a company, Donald Russell has always placed great importance on protecting the environment around us.

The clean air, abundant fresh water and natural pastures of our corner of Scotland are instrumental in producing some of the finest products on the planet. 

We strive to uphold our responsibility, both collectively and individually, to enhance our local communities by making them a better place to live and work now and in the future. We recognise that this responsibility extends to the environments, landscapes, individuals, and communities in our value chains as we learn more about the impacts of our global business models.

To guide our sustainability actions and ensure focus and consistency, we have created a framework of four pillars: Our Sourcing, Our Planet, Our Family, Our Communities.


Delivering products sourced to high standards from transparent supply chains requires us to work in partnership with our suppliers to assess, understand, reduce and mitigate human, animal and landscape impacts.

We are a member of Quality Meat Scotland, a public body which seeks to improve the efficiency of red meat production in Scotland. We source our meat, fish and other ingredients as locally as possible, providing they meet our high standards and expectations of taste and quality. 

Through our parent company, Vestey Holdings, we are also active members of Food Network for Ethical Trade, a collaborative organisation for food companies across the supply chain to learn from each other to improve human rights for workers in their operations and supply chain. 

We are actively providing training to people in roles that are most likely to be exposed to risks of Modern Slavery and more staff will receive training in 2024.

We hold the BRC AA Grade certification. The AA grade is the highest food safety standard accreditation awarded and sets the benchmark for good manufacturing practice, helping to provide standardisation and assurance on safety, quality and operational criteria.

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OUR PLANET - A shared responsibility for a shared planet

Reducing the environmental impact of our end-to-end business operations means quantifying our carbon emissions, waste streams including food waste and packaging and putting in reduction plans place that are aligned to near term science-based targets and ultimately Net Zero 2050 ambitions.

Our parent company, Vestey Holdings, meets the qualification criteria for the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) and, as such, we engaged with energy consultants and gained insight into the energy used within our buildings, processes and transport to help us identify cost-effective energy saving measures. We are ESOS compliant.

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OUR PEOPLE - Creating the conditions for our people to thrive

We empower our people to reach their full potential in a safe, diverse and inclusive workplace where all our colleagues can bring their best selves to work.  We want to create a sense of belonging for everyone.

We benefit greatly from our teams’ talent, skills and commitment, so we are dedicated to investing in their development and wellbeing.

We take pride in building relationships based on our core values of honesty, integrity and unity.

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OUR COMMUNITY - Our success is better when we share it

Creating meaningful partnerships to share our success means becoming part of the communities in which we operate, making them better places to live and work now and in the future.  

As a responsible business, we are committed to finding ways of minimising our impact on the environment and maximising our contribution to the communities in which we operate. 

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Our beef, lamb and pork are all reared to traditional farming methods and we use only grass-fed beef and lamb. Happily for us, this provides the best flavour, as well as being the most welfare-friendly method of rearing livestock. We foster long-term relationships and have worked with some of our suppliers for over 25 years.

We are proud to support British farmers by insisting that our beef and lamb is 100% British. We are continuing this support with the introduction of new ranges of British pork. Because welfare is important to us, for British pork, we will work only with British Quality Approved Pork (BQAP) which meets nationally recognised animal welfare accreditation and with those that meet high-welfare standards from other origins.



All of our game is genuinely wild and is traditionally sourced in the UK. Our wild red and roe deer are culled on estates across the highlands and glens of Scotland.



To further support British farmers, we have introduced a range of British chicken, duck and turkeys, which are British Red Tractor approved, a nationally recognised animal welfare accreditation. Our Crown Selection products meet a higher tier of welfare standard.



Our commitments mean we can bring you the finest fish and seafood, while working to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy them too. Donald Russell is committed to maintaining the welfare and safeguarding of fish stocks.

Through the sourcing of our fish, we support the aims and objectives of several independent accreditation schemes, including Marine Stewardship Council and the Responsibly Sourced Fishing Scheme.




Climate change, and its consequences, is one of the most pressing issues of our time. 

We recognise the many environmental challenges that we face and our group, Vestey Holdings and its individual businesses, are determined to put in place measures to consistently improve our global footprint.

To this end we are working with 51 to Carbon Zero to help us measure, analyse & report our total carbon footprint, and create accountable transition plans to accelerate our journey to achieve Net Zero by 2050. 

Following our initial assessment of our business operations in alignment with the Green House Gas protocol reporting standards, we are now engaging with our suppliers to refine and better understand the Scope 3 emissions produced during production and transport.

We also encourage our packaging suppliers to provide evidence of actions they have undertaken to reduce their own carbon footprint and packaging from our inbound deliveries is recycled off site and our suppliers are encouraged to use returnable containers. The majority have now adopted this approach.

We have been using 100% renewably generated electricity for our operations since 2022 and are working towards provision of solar power solution that will support our annual electricity requirements at our storage and distribution facility in Aberdeenshire.


General Waste

We are committed to responsible waste management as part of our overall Sustainability Strategy while also maintaining operational goals and providing an acceptable working environment for employees and the business. 

The business is committed to achieving best practice benchmark standards in waste management for meat manufacturing.

We are proud to have been achieving 0% of our waste going to landfill since 2017. We achieve this by:

·         Recycling as much of our waste as possible, and have paper, cardboard, plastic and can recycling points throughout our offices and butchery to enable this.

·         Using daily segregation and compaction of waste cardboard, to recycle and requesting that our suppliers use returnable and reusable packaging instead of ‘single use’ cardboard boxes. We have reduced the amount of carboard recycled by two thirds in the last 7 years.

·         Compressing our recyclable material on site into bales matching the size specifications of the recycling mills to which we send them.

·         By compressing the waste, and also by waiting until we have a full truckload of materials before requesting transport, so that the number of road miles required to deliver it for recycling is reduced.

The small waste that is disposed of though ‘general waste’ is collected by a third-party company who processes it to remove anything recyclable, then shreds the rest for energy recovery which percentage of our produces electricity. The result: 0% to landfill.


Food Waste

Food waste is a significant global issue, and having frozen options on hand can help reduce it. Frozen food has a much longer shelf-life, which means that food is less likely to go off before you get the chance to eat it. 

Additionally, since we professionally freeze our products, their quality and freshness is preserved the natural way. We do not need to add artificial, industrially produced preservatives to prolong their shelf-life – something which becomes more necessary with chilled products.

The  waste which our butchers trim away goes to use in the pet food and biofuel industries, or to anaerobic digestion plants. So, as well as being diverted from going to landfill, the useful qualities of these materials are utilised in everyday products, from dry pet food to soap.



Operating a mail order business necessitates using sufficient packaging to ensure the safe transport of our goods. Individual products need to be packed robustly enough to survive in customers’ freezers and kitchens.

We are rolling out a new packaging solution which not only ensures the utmost quality of our products during delivery, but also prioritises sustainability and the well-being of our environment. Crafted from eco-friendly and recyclable materials, this method combines durability and insulation, ensuring orders remain perfectly frozen during transport. 

The trays in which our individual products are packed are made of compressed cardboard and both the cardboard box and paper trays can be added to local council recycling collections.

We use bubble wrap which is inflated on our own site which means we can maximise delivered quantities, saving storage space, road miles and fuel consumption. We have reduced the pallet space required for this from 24 to only one per month.



We target our mailings to make them more efficient, reducing unwanted mail.  We have also reduced our hard copy mailings by 50% in the last year alone and the mailings are sent in recyclable paper envelopes and only to those that opt in to the service. Furthermore, all our paper is sourced from sustainable stocks and is FSC certified. 


Dry Ice

The dry ice we use in our delivery packaging, to ensure that products reach customers in optimum condition, is from recovered CO2 from fertiliser and bioethanol processes. The use of this dry ice also avoids using additional electrical refrigeration during transit, so you can enjoy the freshest frozen food, with a minimal effect on the environment.



Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Donald Russell is an equal opportunities employer, committed to equality of opportunity and to providing a service and following practices which are free from unfair and unlawful discrimination. 

Our Equality & Diversity Policy ensures that no applicant or member of staff receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, or is disadvantaged by conditions or requirements which cannot be shown to be relevant to performance. It seeks also to ensure that no person is victimised or subjected to any form of bullying or harassment.


Staff support

Staff well-being is important to us, and all staff are encouraged to talk to their Line Manager or a trained Mental Health First Aider, if they have any concerns. 

We also offer an employee assistance program (EAP) to assist colleagues with personal and/or work-related problems that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional well-being. This includes health, welfare, legal and family advice and is confidential and free for all staff to use.


Working Environment

Our working environments here at Donald Russell vary greatly between the individual departments – from office space to butchery and cold stores, over two sites. We try to ensure that each of these different areas is maintained and equipped as sustainably as possible.

Each new colleague who is a display screen equipment (DSE) user will undertake a DSE workstation risk assessment and will be advised how to reduce risks, including making sure workers take breaks from DSE work at regular intervals. 

We encourage a two-way flow of information between the Management Team and colleagues to share ideas and best practices and to learn from each other so as to work more effectively together.



As well as the free employee assistance program to help staff with health, welfare, legal and family advice, we offer a generous staff discount, Defined Contribution Pension Scheme and Death in Service benefit.


Staff development

We are committed to helping our staff to do the very best job that they can do and support learning and development to maximise individual potential and to help achieve the aims and objectives of both the individual and the business. Informal on the job training will be provided for all colleagues and further education opportunities when appropriate. 

Appraisal interviews are carried out annually for all staff which provides an opportunity to discuss performance and development options.



Community Engagement

Donald Russell is aware of the many organisations and large sections of the community within Aberdeenshire, the UK and around the world that need support and we encourage staff to get involved in community engagement. We support individual participation in volunteering and fundraising events that benefit the local community by match funding.



Along with our parent company, Vestey Holdings, we recognise that the company and its colleagues have a significant role to play in the communities within which we work and live. We actively encourage our colleagues to develop and harness their skills to add value to the many voluntary and community organisations who rely on volunteers to achieve their objectives. 

To support this, we allow each colleague to take one paid working day per year for community volunteering – a ‘give back day’.


Charity Support

We are regular contributors to a wide range of charities, including supporting the local foodbanks in Inverurie and within our surrounding towns & villages each year. We are proud to have supported the launch of Chance to Shine in Scotland. Chance to Shine is a national charity that aims to give all children the opportunity to play, learn and develop through cricket. We believe that the opportunity for children to learn new skills and life lessons through cricket will have a positive impact on our local community.

As part of Vestey Holdings, we are also involved in the Inspiring a Future in Food campaign, encouraging those in the industry to help open young people’s eyes to the diverse and exciting careers involved in providing food to nations worldwide.