Food firms boost environmental work

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

PepsiCo is working towards making its Walkers crisps packets 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable
PepsiCo is working towards making its Walkers crisps packets 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable
Top food manufacturers have slashed their environmental impact, with one group more than halving CO2 emissions from energy use in manufacturing in 2017, based on 1990 baseline data.

Reporting on its Ambition 2025 in its Shaping sustainable value chains progress report 2018​, published earlier this week, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) logged this achievement for its members. The trade body had set a 2025 target of an absolute reduction of 55% in CO2​ emissions. It stated that the achievement was "very welcome despite the increased throughput compared to 2016"​.

In addition, the FDF said its members had cut their absolute water consumption by 38.8% from 2007-2017, while they had slashed the amount of water consumed per tonne of product by 40.1% over the same period. This had surpassed the FDF's industry-wide target to reduce water use by 20% by 2020 compared to 2007, it claimed.

Its members had also worked hard to reduce food waste, to minimise the environmental impact of packaging waste and transport operations, to build sustainable supply chains and to increase awareness of natural capital, the FDF reported.

Princes Foods

FDF member Princes Foods worked with its bottle supplier Plastipak from 2007 to use bottles containing more than 51% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) for all the soft drinks and oils it produces by 2019.

Princes supplies 922m rPET bottles each year within its leading brand ranges, including Napolina, Crisp 'n Dry, Jucee and Aqua Pura. The company also manufactures customer own brand soft drinks and oils in PET bottles for national retailers.

Meanwhile, working with recycling firm TerraCycle, PepsiCo's Walkers crisps brand has secured 4,000 signed-up locations, including 450 public drop off sites, for its crisps packet recycling scheme, which it officially launched in December. This was in line with its target of making all Walkers crisps packets 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.

“This is a significant step for not only ourselves, but the wider grocery industry too as we will reach millions of households through our supply of brands and customer own brand soft drinks and oils," ​said David McDiarmid, corporate relations director at Princes. "We recognise that too much plastic packaging is thrown away and that more effort needs to be made by all stakeholders to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle all types of plastic. We are committed to playing our part.”

PepsiCo & Premier Foods

At the same time, PepsiCo has worked on reducing plastics use and developing alternative materials. This includes introducing compact packaging which reduces the volume of packaging used for Walkers multipacks by 30%, as well as developing paper-based outer packaging and bio-plastics.

And in support of its aim to halve its food waste from its own operations by 2030, Premier Foods completed a project in early 2018 at its Ashford site removing 350t of salt food waste from anaerobic digestion disposal. The salt is cleaned and recycled back into salt that can be used as a water softener in the company's boiler systems.

Premier Foods has also been actively working to increase food redistribution through Company Shop and their charity, Community Shop. This has enabled Premier to increase its food redistribution by 36% during the calendar year to 31 December 2017 compared to 2016. Further increases in food redistribution are planned, and Premier has set the target to more than double the tonnage of food redistributed in 2018 compared to 2017.

“PepsiCo shares the concern that plastics and other waste are accumulating in the marine environment and on land, which is why we are committed to achieving 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025," ​said Duncan Gordon, s​enior director, corporate affairs, PepsiCo UK & Ireland.

“Protecting our planet is hugely important to us and the issue of plastics and waste requires urgent attention. Our investment in the UK's first crisp packet recycling scheme is a critical milestone in our efforts to reduce our impact on the environment, and one of the ways in which we're proudly contributing to Ambition 2025.”

Food waste

Premier has also published its 2017 food waste figures across its eight UK manufacturing sites (not including Knighton Foods). Its total food production for the period was 336,668t, with overall food waste equating to 8,012t; this equates to 2.4% of food produced. The 8,012t of waste is split between anaerobic digestion and land injection of effluent sludge. As one of the first food companies to publish such data, Premier hopes that other food companies follow its lead and participate in measuring, reporting and action.

“Food waste is one of our top environmental priorities," ​said Lee Haughton, ​Premier Foods' environmental management and compliance coordinator. "The work we have carried out with our salt and increasing redistribution, and the we have planned, will go a long way to achieving the 20% reduction in food waste by 2025. Until you measure and then question what happens to your food waste, it is difficult to act and improve.”

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