The project, Environmental Renaissance in Europe, aims to produce a behavioural change within smaller European food and drink firms by creating more environmentally aware workforces focused on improving their firm’s resource efficiency.
It is currently in a trial phase during which training is being offered free of charge in exchange for feedback on the course, said Sian Hepworth, environmental consultant at the Environmental Academy, the UK partner and lead organisation in the European project.
Food and drink manufacturers have until the end of February to register, with training to be completed by the end of March. The course will officially launch in September.
The course consists of six hours of training broken up into individual modules. The modules contain tips and ideas for improving resource efficiency as well as new ideas for packaging that can be practically applied in a business environment, said Hepworth.
Each module also has industry specific case studies and activities to help firms implement environmental management techniques.
Upon completion, participants will be awarded a certificate licensed and endorsed by skills organisation, NCFE’s (formerly Northern Council for Further Education) Investing in Quality programme – an independently assessed award from a national body, Hepworth added. Although the course is aimed at smaller manufacturers – those with between two and 250 employees – larger firms could still benefit from much of the training, she said.
“The feedback is that sustainability is an area people still want to move into. The people that manufacturers sell their foods to are also concerned about it. It pays for manufacturers to invest in sustainability, and of course it is free during the trial,” she said.
As well as the UK, the training is simultaneously taking place in Spain, Germany and Slovenia with partner organisations in each country. The course is also available online in those languages if firms have non-English speakers or branches in other countries, said Hepworth.
Funding for the project was made available through the European Commission’s lifelong learning Leonardo da Vinci programme, a fund for practical projects in vocational education and training.