Water used per unit of production in the manufacture of food and drink has been cut by nearly a quarter according to new figures, showing that the industry is making progress on water efficiency.
The figures come from the Food and Drink Water Use Reporting scheme, which compiles data from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Dairy UK as a continuation of the industry’s now-finished Federation House Commitment (FHC).
The voluntary FHC scheme ran from 2008 to 2014 with the aim of reducing water use by 20 per cent by 2020 against a 2007 baseline. Signatories include major companies such as Coca-Cola, Mars, Kraft, Kellogg’s and Pepsico.
The latest figures were collected from 56 food and drink companies across 223 sites in the UK. The results show that participants collectively achieved a 15 per cent reduction in water use (excluding water in products) between 2007 and 2014.
This is equivalent to 6.2 million cubic metres of water, enough to fill nearly 2,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. In 2013-2014 alone, participants saved 270,000 cubic metres of water, representing a saving of approximately £400,000.
Furthermore, whilst production at these sites has increased by more than 10 per cent between 2007 and 2014, the water intensity of production has been cut by nearly 23 per cent.
Ian Wright, director general of the FDF, said: “Increasing concern over future water supply means that water resources need to be used as sustainably as possible.
“This encouraging result is a testament to the commitment and action of our members. They have been implementing industry-leading water saving initiatives across their sites. We hope that this example will encourage many more companies to take action on water use and see the benefits for themselves.”
Environment secretary, Elizabeth Truss, also welcomed the report, saying that it “shows this country has a food and drink industry that is leading the way in using innovation and technology to improve how it works.”
“So far this year we have made good progress in water security and are encouraging innovation through initiatives such as the establishment of the UK Water Partnership. Together with government, industry has joined forces to develop new technologies, boost knowledge and build skills making us better placed than ever to respond to this important issue”, she added.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) has published the results of its research partnership with Cranfield University on the potential of sustainable manufacturing in the food and drink industry.
The report, Sustainable Manufacturing for the Future, identifies six key themes for the industry: staff skills, the role of ‘big data’, new technology, supply chain collaboration, better valuing resources and increasing resilience.
Steve Adams, group director of supply chain operations at CCE, said: “History has shown that manufacturers who engage in the debate on the future shape of their sector will not only be better prepared to address challenges and lessen risks, but will be able to capitalise on new business opportunities.”