As befits the country’s largest manufacturing sector, the Food and Drink Federation was the first UK trade body to set specific and measurable targets for helping members to reduce their environmental impacts and deliver bankable efficiency savings.
Our flagship Five-fold Environmental Ambition started life in 2007 and was ahead of its time, both in the scope and scale of its coverage - and in pioneering what has since become an established responsibility deal model for voluntary collective action.
We reached our original carbon target of a 20% cut by 2010 (against a 1990 baseline) a whole year early. As a result, we took the decision to raise our 2020 target from 30% to 35%, above the level of the Government’s own Climate Change Act carbon budget. And we did so at a time when the rest of the European Union was still busy discussing going from 20% to 30%.
I am delighted to say that our latest Five-fold report shows we have now passed even that 35% milestone with more than 5 years to spare.
Does this mean that we were not ambitious enough? On the contrary. We challenged ourselves to go beyond business as usual and ended up exceeding our own expectations. And we are certainly not going to rest on our laurels. So what exactly is the secret of our success? For me, the answer lies in our comprehensive approach - and in demonstrating that good environmental practice makes good business sense, particularly at a time of rising energy prices and other input costs.
In addition to carbon, we have targets for saving water, packaging and transport, as well as for reducing food waste. They all translate into direct financial savings, which boost profits and keep down prices to consumers.
Resource efficiency is as much about hearts and minds, at all levels of the business, as it is about new technology and process design. The case studies we publish annually as part of our Five-fold reports show how companies of all types and sizes can engage. Whether it is the employee-led butterfly meadow at Nestle in Fawdon, a site which itself now houses a state of the art anaerobic digestion unit to turn waste into biogas, or the new water treatment plant at Kellogg’s in Manchester, which uses excess heat to help power the system – a classic case of win win. There are literally dozens of other class-leading examples of innovation and synergy, delivering multiple benefits for both the environment and for business.
We are also now working even more closely with our suppliers and customers to influence behaviours and embed similar life-cycle thinking across the whole value chain. This is the only way to achieve the sustainable growth which will support all our economic futures, as well as ensuring continued supplies of safe, secure, nutritious and affordable food for everyone. We are proud of our leadership record and look forward to further progress in the years ahead.
Jim Moseley, Interim Director General, Food and Drink Federation