Big supermarket chains are looking to secure an advantage over competitors with new sustainability initiatives almost on a weekly basis.
Much of the onus on securing further improvements is increasingly being shifted onto suppliers, particularly manufacturers.
Ensuring that your own organisation has a comprehensive sustainability strategy in place and is making quantifiable progress towards your own net zero targets is becoming increasingly crucial for maintaining business with retailers.
The UK food and drink manufacturing sector has already made collective progress towards cutting carbon emissions, slashing them by 53% compared with 1990 levels.
However, as expectations surrounding emission reductions shift from lowering towards achieving net zero, the steps and easy wins many have already taken are no longer sufficient.
That being said, the first step should always be to ensure that these early steps have been covered. Improved energy efficiency through changes to operations and engaging with staff can generate significant reductions in overall consumption, often at little or even no additional cost.
Installing building management systems, LED lighting and more efficient motors and other production machinery all offer further reductions, in many cases paying for themselves with attractive payback periods.
For food and drink manufacturers in particular, eliminating waste is also a pressing issue. Optimising manufacturing processes, optimal timing and refrigeration technologies along with laying out specifications for products to be made more sustainably all play a key role.
While on-site generation, such as solar PV, is a good option for many, this can also be achieved through renewable energy procurement contracts or green corporate Power Purchase Agreements.
Both of these guarantee that 100% of your energy comes from clean sources, either via your supplier or purchased directly from a generator.
With many solutions are now available at minimal or even no additional cost compared with standard procurement, these solutions offer considerable reductions to both Scope 1 emissions, from your own operations, and indirect Scope 2 emissions, from energy generation.
In summer 2020, the Government is due to publish the results of an independent review of UK food production and manufacturing, the National Food Strategy.
Announced shortly after the UK committed to net zero emissions by 2050, the Food and Drink Federation has asked that the review provides all relevant policy frameworks to ensure the sector is given the structure it needs to meet these targets, while maintaining commercial competitiveness.
Following an in-depth study of the progress of the food and drink manufacturing sector towards net zero by Centrica, a subsequent summary stated that, while many manufacturers had already secured efficiency ‘easy wins’ and may be using on-site generation, it is unlikely to be enough to meet current targets.
This includes utilising ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) technology to dig deeper than the data provided by meters to achieve better analytics, monitoring and control.
Technology solutions, including CHP, battery storage and solar, as well as driving greater returns from these options through increased energy optimisation, will also play an important role in reducing emissions as well as giving you greater control over how you source and use energy.
Navigating the complex measures needed to ensure your business is on the road towards achieving net zero is challenging.
With over 450 manufacturing clients across the UK, Inenco are market leaders when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability expertise in the sector. To find out how we can help you, contact us on 08451 46 36 26.