The report came following an event in Brussels yesterday featuring stakeholders such as Members of the European Parliament, UN representatives and key food industry players such as Nestle.
FoodDrinkEurope’s ‘Environmental Sustainability Vision Towards 2030’ details three core areas of focus: sustainable sourcing, resource efficiency along the food chain and sustainable consumption and production.
Europe’s food and drink industry accounts for 70% of all EU agricultural produce, said FoodDrinkEurope, which showcased examples from companies that could help to promote sustainable sourcing and contribute towards food security.
The report praised Ferrero, General Mills, Mars, Nestlé and Unilever, which all pledged to source 100% certified sustainable palm oil by 2015. Mars and Ferrero have also committed to used only sustainable certified cocoa by 2020.
The report also lauded the development of harmonised assessment methods through the European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Round Table.
FoodDrinkEurope encouraged the industry to collaborate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Between 1999, food and drink manufacturers in Europe cut GHG emissions by 18%, while production value rose 29%.
The report endorsed using low carbon technologies, such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP). “The best way to provide heat is from a CHP plant as this provides maximum primary energy saving opportunities,” it said.
Kellogg is one large company using CHP. Its plant in Manchester, UK, has a 4.9 MWe CHP Plant that supplies 85% of the plant’s current steam demand and approximately 50% of electricity demand, which it claims reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 12% annually.
FoodDrinkEurope is also promoting refrigerant alternatives. “Some of the refrigerant gases commonly used by food and drink manufacturers, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), contribute to climate change if they escape to the atmosphere,” it said.
While no viable alternative is currently available, the EU trade body said that it supports a multi-stakeholder initiative by Coca-Cola, Unilever, McDonald’s and PepsiCo to find a solution.
The report estimated that the industry’s water use accounts for 1.8% of the European total. It encouraged employing tools to measure water use through a Life Cycle Analysis, but said the method was not ideal for communication with consumers.
Several FoodDrinkEurope companies are involved in developing a new ISO standard (14046) on water footprint based on a life-cycle approach which is expected to be completed by 2014.
FoodDrinkEurope's report also details ways manufacturers have converted waste into energy to power operations. Nestlé and Kraft for example have been recycling coffee grounds to power production processes, which has contributed 12% to Nestlé’s on-site renewable energy resources in plants in the UK, Germany and France.
FoodDrinkEurope also supports using biofuels for transport operations to limit the environmental impact. Nestlé, for example has been using liquid methane powered trucks in the UK.
European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potocnik said: “It is also clear that consumers should be increasingly informed via modern communication channels, such as smart phones applications and social media.”
The French food and drink industry association (ANIA) has developed the smart phone app ProxiProduit, which allows consumers to scan barcodes and obtain environmental information such as GHG emissions, biodiversity and water use.
The report concluded that its ‘vision’ was not a benchmark for the industry as “no one-size fits all”, but it could give inspiration to companies to promote sustainable growth.