The sector, which accounts for more than 15% of UK turnover, was also congratulated for having 80% of its 7,000 businesses in the ‘highest environmental standards’ bracket, as measured by EA.

Speaking during a visit to Coca-Cola’s Wakefield factory, EA chairman, and Sustainability Leaders Awards judging chair, Lord Smith, praised food and drink manufacturers for cutting their carbon footprint, reducing water consumption and slimming-down waste production. He went on to urge businesses to strive for further improvements, however, given their huge influence on the environment.

Food and drink production, he added, is one of the most resource-hungry sectors in the UK, accounting for 5% of industrial water use and creating large volumes of waste. In 2010, for example, the sector released 2.63m tonnes of carbon and produced 2.8m tonnes of waste, figures which he said highlighted the requirement for a continued focus on new technologies to reduce environmental impacts.

While EA figures show that regulated food and drink businesses increased their proportion of recycled and recovered waste to 90% in 2011, and were responsible for ‘far fewer pollution incidents’ in 2011 than in previous years, Lord Smith stressed the need for sound management and operating procedures to further reduce the risk of serious pollution incidents.

As for the specifics of Coca-Cola Enterprises’ Wakefield business, EA said the plant had reduced its energy consumption by 16.5% since 2006, cut its water use to product ratio by 10% since 2007 and had achieved zero waste to landfill since 2009.

As a result of this ‘proactive environmental approach‘ the EA has reduced the frequency of regulatory inspections to the Wakefield site, easing the regulatory burden on the business and allowing the Agency to focus on reducing environmental risks posed by ‘less compliant sites’ elsewhere in the industry.

edie staff

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