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Food and drink sector lags behind on sustainability targets

The UK food and drink industry continues to suffer from excessive levels of waste, low use of renewable energies and a generally poor attitude towards sustainability investment according to a new report.
Food Fw, which compiled the report, has warned that the UK food and drink sector is in danger of failing to keep up with targets set by initiatives such as the Courtauld 2025 agreement, which aims to cut waste and greenhouse gas emissions by at least one-fifth per person by 2025.
Food Fw analysed publicly available information from 178 companies within the Food and Drink Federation in H1 2018 to better understand the position of the sector. The firm evaluated the level of progress towards sustainability, including environmental practices, sourcing, staff engagement, and relationships with key bodies such as WRAP and The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.
Key findings include: 53% of UK food and drink firms do not have or disclose any form of sustainability information online or detail any waste management and energy targets; only 16% have target focused statements on their website; only 7% have adopted tangible process and/ or technologies to generate value, for example, from food waste and renewable energy.
Food Fw founder Conrad Young said more than half of UK food companies struggle to even describe how they intend to make their operations environmentally sustainable.
“Since 2016 we’ve seen hard public scrutiny of food waste, and government pressure to cut emissions, from CO2 to ammonia. Many international businesses have responded by investing in cost effective innovations like solar and wind power, anaerobic digestion and other resource efficient technologies, but much more could be done by UK companies,” he said.
The research report, Dairy Forward, analysed information and data regarding the wider UK food and drink sector, but focused on the UK dairy sector. It includes three case studies of UK dairy firms that are bucking the trend and using sustainability processes to grow profits and do better business with their key customers. The dairy sector is the second biggest waste producer and fourth biggest energy consumer in the food industry.

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