Concerns about how to reduce the carbon footprint of food and beverage supply chains continue to engage brands and manufacturers. A brand’s carbon footprint is in the spotlight now more than ever and, as brands and manufacturers embrace more sustainable processes, a collaborative approach to planet health is required to meet ever-changing consumer demands.
Brands, manufacturers and their supply chains are making progress and working on becoming able to decarbonise their operations. Now is the time for the whole food and beverage sector to take action from field to fork and move towards carbon neutral manufacturing.
Due to the complexity of global supply chains and the lack of transparency around data, one of the main challenges is to collaborate with suppliers. If you’re thinking about how to reduce the carbon footprint of your factory, read on to learn more about becoming a carbon neutral food factory.
Efficiency and waste reduction
Monitoring energy usage and understanding what processes use the most energy can make a huge difference in making operations more sustainable. Reducing energy consumption and water usage is essential to reduce carbon footprints.
Waste products from the manufacturing process can also be used to create more sustainable energy sources. For example, biodiesel, made from waste cooking oil, can power diesel engines.
When food waste at landfill decomposes and releases methane, an anaerobic digestion system captures the methane that is otherwise released into the atmosphere. This system produces sources of renewable energy which can then be used to provide heat for manufacturing processes, vital for steps to become a carbon neutral food factory.
Make your business greener
To become a carbon neutral food factory, it’s important to identify areas of improvement, define business objectives and scope out the change required to reach proposed sustainability goals. Manufacturers can work with renewable energy suppliers, such as wind and solar power, as well as invest in renewable energy technology as part of their food factory design.
Reducing the number of raw materials that need to be sourced to manufacture products is a step forward to a carbon neutral food factory. Simply by reducing food waste or the amount of packaging can safeguard the environment and contribute to reduced carbon emissions.
For example, the location chosen by leading juice and smoothie brand, innocent drinks, enabled it to reduce its impact on the environment. By reducing road miles by around 25 per cent – since most of the fruit arrives by shipping container to the Port of Rotterdam – the company has significantly managed to decrease the carbon footprint of its manufacturing process. This move also reduced innocent’s water usage, as well as reducing, reusing and recycling waste created during the manufacturing process.
Review project management structures and logistics
By sharing carbon-related data, manufacturers can have an accurate understanding of their carbon footprint across the whole supply chain. This detailed understanding helps to identify where they produce CO2, making it easier to move towards a carbon neutral food factory. Investing in any new project or technology requires accurate project management to monitor the progress against the project plan and budget.
It’s no longer enough to ensure your own factory is doing its part to be more carbon neutral. Food and beverage manufacturers need to deal with suppliers who share the business’ carbon neutral initiatives. It’s becoming increasingly vital to liaise with sustainable suppliers, and to manage risks or changes that arise to achieve the final project goals.
It’s more important than ever to make effective partnerships that maximise the local context. Two complementary manufacturers being sited next to each other can help them to share waste resources and reduce the impact on the environment.
For example, the TINE dairy factory in Norway is located next to greenhouses growing tomatoes which allows for the re-use of the excess low temperature heat and CO2 from the natural gas combustion in the dairy.
There is no doubt it’s challenging to become a carbon neutral food factory in such a fast moving industry. Manufacturers need to put sustainable initiatives in practice, and to work with suppliers who share the same environmental commitments and corporate responsibility efforts as they do.
It is critical for businesses to take ownership to achieve goals on becoming carbon neutral food and beverage factories. Reducing the carbon footprint of the industry will go a long way towards reducing our environmental impact, but if we’re committed to be more sustainable, it can inspire more parties to act similarly.
Integrated Food Projects have partnered with Kettleby Foods on a number of high-profile multi-million pound capital projects since 2003/4, helping the business to develop and grow. Throughout that time they have provided cost-effective and efficient solutions on development projects both at our existing ready meals production facility and also in creating a new satellite facility. The projects at our existing facility were managed without impact on our ability to service our own clients, and all projects have been delivered within budget, in a timely fashion and to the requisite standards of safety and quality. Their team work ethos and professional approach ensure successful projects and I would utilise Integrated Food Projects in the future without hesitation.
- Jarrod Thorndyke, Production Director
I have worked with Integrated Food Projects on many capital expenditure projects since 2004, the latest being the development of the new plot of land adjacent to our main site. They successfully employed a project delivery process to ensure the integration of a leased modular building solution with the development of the site infrastructure to improve logistics and Health and Safety. Their staff are always positive and enthusiastic and have fostered a team-work approach ensuring another successful project delivered. I look forward to working with them again in the near future.
- Engineering Manager, Major UK Ready Meals Manufacturer