Food and drink sector tastes strong environmental progress

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has revealed that its members, which include major brands such as Cadburys, Danone, and Kelloggs, have achieved a collective reduction of 46% in CO2 emissions since 1990, as the group builds on fresh targets for 2025.

The trade body, which represents 16% of the entire UK food and drink manufacturing sector, yesterday (8 February) announced the feat in its annual progress report through its Five-Fold Environmental Ambition (FEA). Members also achieved an objective to send zero food and packaging waste to landfill by the end of 2015.

The group hopes to strengthen these achievements through its Ambition 2025 plan, published last October, which outlines plans to ramp up industry efforts to reduce environmental impacts, protect natural capital, and contribute to the delivery of a sustainable food system for the future.

FDF sustainability & chief scientific officer Helen Munday said: “The results published today show that our industry has delivered significantly improved environmental performance.

“The FEA has been an industry-leading ambition and has served as a collective roadmap for food and drink manufacturers. Looking forward, we feel the new commitments under Ambition 2025 cover important areas in which we can make a positive impact as a sector.”

Targets devoured

FDF members reduced their absolute water consumption in 2015 by 30.1% against a 2007 baseline, according to the body, which has set a new aim to reduce water use by 20% by 2020. Meanwhile, the carbon intensity of freight operations fell by 6.8% in 2014 compared to 2010, thanks to membership of the Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme.

Manufacturers contributed to a 3% fall in supply chain waste across the grocery sector in three years through the Courtauld Commitment. The sector also helped to reduce the carbon impact of packaging by 7% on a 2012 baseline.

The group will now aim to achieve a 55% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025 against the 1990 starting point, while new goals will look to shape future value chains, namely sustainable supply chains and natural capital.

Food for thought

Pressure has been building on the food and drink industry to drive sustainability up the business agenda, particularly in the area of food waste. While manufacturers helped to generate an estimated £100m in food waste savings in three years through the Courtauld Commitment, the scheme failed to reach its target to cut household food and drink waste by 5%, with the figure in fact rising to 7.3mt. 

The FDF last year backed an action plan that promotes water stewardship in the UK food and drink sector and builds supply chains that are more resilient to ‘precarious’ flooding and water shortage risks.

The trade body recently called on the UK Government to provide “leadership” on environmental policies post-Brexit, claiming that the two 25-year plans to strengthen environment and food and farming policies should be combined alongside energy legislation.

George Ogleby

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie