The soft drinks sustainability roadmap, launched by Defra Food Minister David Heath today, draws on months of research and claims to the first study to clearly state where the £1.3bn UK soft drinks sector affects the environment and how it can reduce that impact.

Concerns over supply chain water scarcity are well-publicised – it is estimated that annual soft drink production exceeds 14 billion litres per year.

The agreement, developed in partnership with sustainability consultancy Best Foot Forward, outlines a number of recommendations for drinks producers and suppliers, a key one being to reduce the amount of water used in manufacturing to help limit consumption and save money.

Other measures include improving refrigeration to boost energy efficiency, using low carbon fertiliser to reduce the footprint of fruit-based soft drinks by as much as 20% and improving co-operation between manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and waste companies to improve packaging recyclability.

So far 50% of major soft drinks producers or suppliers, including Coca Cola and Britvic, have already committed to the roadmap. The aim is to sign up a further 25% by the end of the year.

According to the British Soft Drinks Association’s director general Gavin Partington, the agreement provides a great opportunity to extend best practice and deliver long term cost savings.

Meanwhile WRAP director Dr Richard Swannell said it would help the industry tackle the areas where significant savings can be made along the whole supply chain.

“This type of collaborative sector working has real business benefits, as proven by our work on the Courtauld Commitment and The Federation House Commitment,” he said.

Maxine Perella

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