Among other things, Coronavirus has exposed Australia’s manufacturing vulnerability. One obvious reason for that is undoubtedly labour costs, yet countries like Germany and Japan have maintained their status as manufacturing powerhouses despite paying comparable minimum wages to us. Both are examples as to how Australia could replicate the quality rather than price model. Manufacturing offers an essential foundation for the emergence of future products and incomes. It is a shame, therefore, that lots of competitive products are not Australian made, but manufactured overseas. We already have the capabilities needed without even realising it. As a developed nation, this pandemic has shown how quickly we can innovate and adapt to situations thanks to our skillsets.
Shepherd Filters’ Managing Director Jeremy Kronk is no stranger to adversity after a devastating fire left him with third-degree burns to 52% of his body just over four years ago. Spending six-and-a-half weeks in a coma and a further six months recovering until he was able enough to return home where he wore a burns suit for another 18 months. While recovering at home, Jeremy started to research fires and came across a huge range of stories on restaurant fires. He became fascinated with how fires start and why.
Using Australian wool, which will not tear or catch fire as well as soak up to 98% of airborne grease. He found the product was better off being Australian made, using Australian wool. Shepherd Filters provide commercial kitchens with the most effective kitchen exhaust grease management system on the market today. Capturing up to an unprecedented 98% of airborne grease right there at the filter, they:
- Minimise the need for filter exchange servicing and/or in-house filter cleaning
- Lessen the ‘load’ on vital extraction equipment (i.e. fans), improving overall efficiency and lifespan
- Decrease the rate of servicing other complementary extraction equipment (i.e. ESP’s)
- Reduce both the frequency and complexity of routine kitchen duct cleaning
Not only do these filters save commercial kitchens money, but they also greatly reduce the risk of a potentially catastrophic fire. Minimising the potential for grease build-up like never before, Shepherd Filters will help to ensure that food service establishments of all shapes and sizes remain safe, compliant and covered by insurance.
Much of the first year was spent door-knocking around the Gold Coast, where the product was developed and remains to be the location for their headquarters. As the product gained traction, a manufacturing facility was secured in Sydney, where the filter sheets are cut to size to fit all standard filter models on the commercial market. The facility engaged by Shepherd Filters is a for-purpose community organisation that has provided services and support for people with disability in New South Wales since 1952. Achieve provides the following services to Shepherd Filters:
Cutting the rolls of wool to size Weighing each wool filter media Package/store ready to ship
“We are proudly Australian made using Australian wool, supporting our farmers and providing work to those in our community with a disability”
The environmental benefits of Shepherd Filters are significant.
“As opposed to the cleaning of traditional honeycomb and baffle filters, our disposable kitchen grease filters are made of 100% wool that can be discarded in the regular waste bin, so we help commercial food-service businesses reduce their carbon footprint” Kronk explains.
Being bio-degradable, these wool filters provide commercial kitchens with an environmentally friendly solution when it comes to maintaining their kitchen exhaust extraction systems. Businesses can potentially save thousands of litres of water annually and reduce the need for harsh chemicals used to keep kitchen exhaust systems clean, fully functioning and to code. Chemicals are not only expensive, but some can be toxic to humans and animals. Cleaning products that are flushed down the drain can have a serious impact on the environment. Wool, however, is an all-natural, renewable fibre grown on sheep. It’s a planet-friendly fibre because:
- Sheep are part of the natural carbon cycle, consuming the organic carbon stored in plants and converting it to wool. Fifty per cent of the weight of wool is pure organic carbon
- Wool products have long lifespans, meaning they are used longer than other fibre products
- Wool is one of the most recycled fibres. With a market share of 1,3% of all textile fibres, wool claims 5% within the recycled fibres market share identifying wool as a suitable fibre for recycling
- At the very end of its lifespan, wool biodegrades readily as it contains a high percentage of nitrogen. This high nitrogen content is the reason wool biodegrades so well.
Products like wool, that are biodegradable, are part of a natural cycle. They come from nature and go back to nature, enriching the soil and nourishing new life. Wool is, therefore, a good ‘slow-release’ fertiliser.
“It all adds up to a highly sustainable fibre and in today’s world we all need to do our part to help the environment”, says Kronk.
Shepherd Filters now counts McDonald’s as a client, which has helped to cement their name within the industry. Aside from continued growth in Australia, they are now proudly starting to distribute Shepherd Filters internationally. Competitors have started to emerge, yet Kronk’s hard stance on the quality of this Australian-made product remains. Shepherd Filters will not compromise on quality or standards, and this is the key to their success.
As Shepherd Filters comprise 100% wool fibres, coupled with a specific weight and loft formula, they have a higher grease-capture-and-contain rate per filter and don’t absorb moisture. With each filter holding more grease and holding it more effectively without diminishing airflow, each Shepherd Filter lasts longer before requiring replacement.
Shepherd Filters holds relevant approvals & meets standards worldwide including (but not limited to):
- UL Standard 1046 Flame Test for Grease Filters for Exhaust Ducts
- Australian Standards AS1668.2 E6 Kitchen Exhaust Hoods incorporating Grease Removal Devices
- NFPA 96 Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations
- DW172 Standard for B&ES Specification for Kitchen Ventilation Systems
- HACCP Australia Food Safety Certification; and
- Member of the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association (IKECA)
The product has also won numerous Australian and International awards.