The Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) and Envirowise are leading the research which will also look to identify the amount of water consumed and disposed of during meat and fish processing. The initiative will measure the cost and carbon footprint of this waste.
The scheme will also look to highlight waste hot spots and produce good practice guides on how to tackle them. The meat and fish industries have been targeted because of the higher greenhouse gas emission linked to their production.
In order to produce these supply chain maps, information will be gathered for four types of meat - poultry, beef, lamb and pork - and twenty fish types at all points along the wholesale and retail supply chain within the UK.
The project team will be contacting companies across the supply chain, representing over 80 per cent of the meat and fish species consumed in the UK. Companies are being urged to take part in the programme to provide accurate and up to date information.
Charlotte Henderson, WRAP Retail Supply Chain Programme Manager, said: “Meat and fish are priority food items for resource mapping because of their high embodied carbon and short shelf-life.
“Identifying where and when the waste is generated – and the reasons why – will help us develop solutions to use resources more efficiently. These solutions will be shared and be good news for companies within the supply chains because the benefits identified will be commercial as well as environmental”.
Because the issues involved are so complex, other projects with a number of other bodies are also being launched. Supply chain expert IGD is undertaking research on meat in partnership with MLCSL Consulting, the British Poultry Council and Cranfield University. The work will link in to the English Beef & Lamb Executive (EBLEX) and Defra Meat Roadmap work currently being undertaken.
Christine Walsh, of MLCSL Consulting said “The meat processing - encompassing abattoirs, cutting plants, wholesale and retail packing plants and retail sector - are always working to reduce their waste. This project will give the whole industry an up-to-date benchmark as to where they are and will also signpost them to further opportunities for improvement along the supply chain for the next decade”.
The IGD said its project would follow cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry from the abattoir to the retail check-out in a bid to identify where and how to cut waste.
“Producing meat is a resource intensive process and finding ways to eliminate waste from the supply chain will undoubtedly bring economic and environmental benefits”, said IGD Director of Industry Development David Gordon.
The issue is also a key one for the seafood industry said non-departmental public body Seafish.
Michaela Archer, Seafish project manager, said: “With escalating disposal costs and more stringent legislation on disposal methods it is increasingly important that the seafood industry is in a position to minimise the amount of waste produced and look ahead to identify alternative waste treatments and promote good practice."