Spotlight on UK food and drink firms' green initiatives

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fdf Recycling

UK food and drink manufacturers have reduced their CO2 emissions by 17 per cent since 1990, which translates as an average of 58,000 tonnes less carbon dixoide (CO2) annually, claims the FDF.

This data is released in the 2008 Five-Fold Environmental Ambition Progress Report from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), the body representing the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.

The FDF said the publication aims to outlines the ways in which processors are reducing their environmental impact.

The recorded reduction in CO2 emissions by the sector is equivalent to taking 22,000 cars off UK roads each year, claims the representative body.

The FDF argues that the carbon achievements have come about as the result of pledges from its members to cut the amount of heat, energy and transport used in their production processes.

The body said that the results also show that food and drink companies are on target to meet the commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 per cent by 2010.

Consumer perception

Speaking to about how consumers perceive the progress of food and drink companies on green issues,​Callton Young, FDF director of sustainability and competitiveness, said that the concept of environmental footprint is a broad one, and as such, difficult to communicate to consumers:

Consumers are less worried about the complex detail and expect businesses to do that for them, acting as good corporate citizens. That principle is at the heart of FDF’s Five-fold Environmental Ambition."

Waste prevention

And he argues that the current slump in UK recycling prices will not have an impact on FDF members’ drive towards ‘greener’ packaging.

“FDF’s efforts are driven by a desire to prevent waste arising in the first place wherever possible. That achieves a win-win for business and the environment.

“Recovery and recycling come second and in this area we are doing our bit for the environment at our production sites, and will be providing consumers with on-pack information to encourage them to recycle more of their used packaging.”

Green initiatives

The FDF report shows that the food and drink industry, in addition to lowering carbon outputs, have in the last year alone cut food packaging by 70,000 tonnes.

According to the publication, Britvic has reduced the amount of packaging it uses for its Robinsons squash bottles by 1,670 tonnes of per year, with the bottles lightweighted by two grams and reduced in height by 1.5mm: “These changes alone are saving 330 tonnes of plastic per year.”

Coca Cola saved 15,000 tonnes of aluminium in a year across Europe by making aluminium cans slightly thinner, and Cadbury Mars and Nestle have cut packaging on Easter eggs by 25 per cent, states the FDF report.

Food and drink companies, the FDF states, also prevented more than half a million tonnes of food waste being created in 2006 by, for example, ensuring that by-products from food production were used in animal feed.

The UK body said that processors recycled or recovered 82 per cent of the food and packaging waste that arose in 2006, and with regards to the 17 per cent of waste that goes to landfill, the FDF claims its members are now working with best practice bodies to prevent it arising or are diverting the waste into uses such as anaerobic digestion.

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