Leading food organizations to focus on their environmental impact

13 March 2013

Posted by Michelle Devonshire

Three of the UK's biggest food organizations are set to try and limit the environmental impact of some of their key products.

Sainsbury's, Nestle and the Co-operative Group will aim to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, waste and resource use generated in the supply chain of items like milk, bread and meat.

They have made this commitment following the release of a report by the Product Sustainability Forum (PSF), which focused on the environmental impact of groceries and household items.

The report brought together product life-cycle data from over 150 published studies and from PSF members and the industry, making it the most comprehensive publication of its kind. It provides information on the environmental effects of more than 200 different items.

The three organizations will pilot projects known as 'pathfinders', which will target the areas where the biggest environmental savings can be made. They will also help to improve the resilience of supply chains and contribute to managing potential business risks. More companies are expected to adopt these methods in the near future.

Dr Liz Goodwin, Chief Executive of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and Chair of the PSF, said: “;The main objective of this important research has been to establish which grocery products are likely to contribute the most to environmental impacts associated with UK household consumption."

She added that by gaining a better understanding of the UK's most important products, WRAP and the PSF can help businesses prioritize their efforts into the areas that will generate the biggest economic and environmental savings.

The Co-operative and Nestle will focus primarily on their potato, milk and chocolate supply chains, while Sainsbury’s will concentrate on its meat, fish, and poultry range.

Both Nestle and the Co-operative will be engaging with their entire supply chain for groceries such as milk and potatoes to try and increase energy-efficiency. The PSF hopes this integrated approach will become the norm for all fresh produce in the future.

Ms Goodwin commented: "By highlighting opportunities for improvement, the PSF is enabling whole supply chains to come together and tackle the hot spots that have been identified."

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