Food firms pledge to cut mileage

Companies behind some of the biggest brands on UK supermarket shelves have pledged to slash the environmental impact of transporting their goods.

About 40 food and drink companies have signed up to the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) Environmental Checklist and Clause for Greener Food Transport.

The companies, which include Cadbury Schweppes, Weetabix Ltd and Premier Foods – the company behind Hovis bread and Branston pickle – committed to using a 10-point checklist to reduce the number and impact of food miles.

Maximising vehicle loading, reducing the amount of journeys made without any freight, and using rail and shipping instead of road freight are among the recommendations on the checklist.

The FDF said it will help companies contribute to an industry target to reduce the environmental impact of domestic food transport by 20% by 2012, compared to 2002 levels.

Iain Ferguson, FDF president, said: “The companies who have signed up to the Checklist and Clause are the first of what we hope will be many more signatories to this commitment to achieving fewer and friendlier transport miles.”

Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: “Protecting the environment and developing sustainable transport systems, especially where distribution is concerned, are very topical issues and especially important for us at the Department for Transport.”

United Biscuits – which makes McVities biscuits – is one of the signatories.

The company is already avoiding 2.7m road miles a year compared to 2005 and is expected to save about 4,700 tonnes of CO2 up to the end of 2008.

Executive chairman David Fish said: “Much can be achieved by the food industry working together on a common aim of greener transport, which is why UB is already collaborating across the supply chain with its suppliers, customers and manufacturers.”

Smaller companies, like haggis producers Macsween of Edinburgh, have also signed up.

Director James Macsween said: “The management team takes its responsibility towards the environment extremely seriously and the company strives to continually improve its performance and go beyond minimum regulatory requirements.”

Find out more about the FDF’s environmental ambitions here.

Kate Martin

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