The food and drink industry has been praised by Lord Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, for cutting the environmental costs of feeding Britain.
Speaking during a visit to Coca-Cola’s factory in Wakefield, Lord Smith praised efforts by food and drink manufacturers to cut their carbon footprint, reduce water consumption and slim-down waste production.
Environment Agency figures show that regulated organisations within the food and drink sector have increased the proportion of waste recycled and recovered to 90 per cent in 2011. Overall, the sector was responsible for far fewer pollution incidents in 2011 than in previous years.
The food and drink sector represents over 15 per cent of UK turnover and consists of over 7,000 businesses. 80 per cent of regulated sites achieve the highest environmental standards as measured by the Environment Agency.
As a result of a drive to be greener, the food and drink sector is also saving millions of pounds through resource efficiency. Those signed up to the Food & Drink Federation’s commitment to reduce water use saved in the region of £1.82 million in the purchase of water alone in 2011.
At its factory in Wakefield, Coca-Cola Enterprises has reduced energy consumption by 16.5 per cent since 2006, cut its water use to product ratio by ten per cent since 2007 and, since 2009, sent zero waste to landfill. It is also the first plant in the global food and beverage industry to achieve the ISO 50001 standard for energy management.
Food and drink is traditionally one of the most resource hungry sectors in the UK. It accounts for five per cent of industrial water use and produces large volumes of waste. Lord Smith stressed the need for this sector to continue to strive for improvements, given the huge influence it has on the environment.
In 2010 the food and drink industries regulated by the Environment Agency released 2.63 million tonnes of carbon and produced 2.8 million tonnes of waste.
Lord Smith called on those within the sector to continue to focus on new technologies to reduce environmental impacts and to reduce waste and water use. He also pointed to the need for sound management and operating procedures in order to reduce the risk of serious pollution incidents.
Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said: “Green business is good business because it can help reduce costs and enhances reputation with customers.
“The improvements within the food and drink sector demonstrate that there are enormous opportunities across industry for savings despite tough economic times. However, businesses need to remain vigilant to environmental risks and drive further improvements.
“Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd’s facility in Wakefield is an excellent example of how manufacturers are taking their own initiative to improve environmental performance. This has delivered greater efficiencies for Coca-Cola and reduced the level of intervention needed from the Environment Agency.”
Ian Johnson, Director, Supply Chain Operations, Coca-Cola Enterprises Wakefield, said: “At Coca-Cola Enterprises our company philosophy is to continue to grow more while using less.
“Our Wakefield facility is a shining example of our company’s on-going efforts to set and achieve ambitious sustainability goals, however the same standard is evident across all our GB operations. We are proud of our record and pleased to be working closely with the Environment Agency to continue to go above and beyond the industry standards.”
As a result of the proactive approach that Coca-Cola Enterprises has taken to environmental management at its Wakefield facility, the Environment Agency has been able to reduce the frequency of regulatory inspections to the site.
This reduces the regulatory burden on the business and allows the Environment Agency to focus efforts on reducing the environmental risks posed by less compliant sites elsewhere in the industry.
Lord Smith’s visit to Coca-Cola Enterprises’ Wakefield facility coincides with the Environment Agency’s Greener Business initiative aimed at recognising the British businesses that are helping to drive green growth, despite tough economic times.