The 10 Best Environmental Management Practices for the Food Industry

A fascinating report was issued last year by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre for the food and beverage manufacturing sector. This report describes best practices (called best environmental management practices, BEMPs) that can provide food and beverage manufacturers with inspiration and practical guidance on how to improve their environmental performance.

The BEMPs are based on actions and techniques that have already been succesfully implemented by frontrunner organisations. BEMPs were identified between 2013 and 2015 by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, in close cooperation with a technical working group of experts and stakeholders from the food and beverage manufacturing sector.

The report presents in detail ten BEMPs that are broadly applicable to all companies in the food and beverage manufacturing sector:

1. Know your environmental management score

Performing an environmental sustainability assessment of products and/or operations: food and beverage manufacturers can assess the environmental impact of products and operations using life-cycle assessment (LCA) tools to identify priority areas for action and define a strategy for reducing their environmental impacts;

2. Suss out the supply chain

Sustainable supply chain management: food and beverage manufacturers can manage their supply chain implementing green procurement, adapting recipes to remove unsustainable ingredients and supporting existing suppliers in improving their environmental performance;

3. If only we could eat the packaging too

Improving or selecting packaging to minimise environmental impact: food and beverage manufacturers can minimise the environmental impact of packaging, for example by using eco-design tools, light-weighting packaging, adopting bulk packaging of ingredients, refills and returnable secondary and tertiary packaging;

4. Cleaning green

Environmentally friendly cleaning operations: food and beverage manufacturers can reduce the amount of water, energy and chemicals used during cleaning operations by implementing and optimising cleaning in place (CIP), optimising manual cleaning operations, minimising or avoiding the use of chemicals, better production planning and better plant design;

5. Transport it green

Improving transport and distribution operations: food and beverage manufacturers can improve the environmental impact of their transport and logistics operations, from a more strategic/general level down to operational considerations, by, for instance, green procurement and environmental requirements for transport providers, efficiency monitoring and reporting for all transport and logistic operations, integration of transport efficiency into sourcing decisions and packaging design, shifting towards more efficient transport modes, optimisation of warehousing, route optimisation;

6. Chill it green

Improving freezing and refrigeration: food and beverage manufacturers can improve the existing refrigeration and freezing equipment by, for example, appropriate temperature selection based on the needs of the products that are refrigerated or frozen, precooling of warm products before placing them into the cooling equipment or minimising the volume of products or ingredients kept in cold storage.;

7. Manage the energy

Deploying energy management and improving energy efficiency throughout all operations: food and beverage manufacturers can manage energy use throughout all operations of the company by putting in place a comprehensive energy management system, installing meters (where appropriate, smart meters) at the individual process level, carrying out regular energy auditing and monitoring, implementing appropriate energy efficiency solutions for all processes in a facility, investigating and, if possible, exploiting industrial symbiosis for electricity, heat, cooling and steam with neighbouring facilities;

8. Use the sun

Integrating renewable energy in the manufacturing processes: food and beverage manufacturers can go beyond the use of renewable electricity and meet (part of) the heat demand of production processes with renewable heat (i.e. from solar heating systems, biomass or biogas);

9. Focus on the waste stream

Avoiding food waste in food and beverage manufacturing: food and beverage manufacturers can reduce food waste by implementing awareness/raising staff engagement campaigns, review of product ranges and consequent reduction of inventory losses and production-ready packaging in order to reduce raw ingredient losses. Additionally food and beverage manufacturers can adopt just-in-time procurement and delivery of raw material, increased visibility of wastage quantities generated through waste audits and optimised production yields;

10. Implement the best available techniques

A huge amount of work has been done by experts in the field that you can link to and implement without reinventing the wheel or the research.

https://eippcb.jrc.ec.europa.eu/sites/default/files/2020-01/JRC118627_FDM_Bref_2019_published.pdf

This document provides DETAILED guidance on a large number of processes used in the food industry.

In addition to these general BEMP’s, the report provides insights into a number of specific industries like:

  • Processing of coffee
  • Manufacture of olive oil
  • Manufacture of soft drinks
  • Manufacture of beer
  • Production of meat and poultry meat products
  • Manufacture of fruit juice
  • Cheese making operations
  • Manufacture of bread
  • Manufacture of wine

These two documents are well worth a read.

References

Dri M., Antonopoulos I. S., Canfora P., Gaudillat P., Best Environmental Management Practice for the Food and Beverage Manufacturing Sector, JRC Science for Policy Report, EUR 29382 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018, ISBN 978-92-79-94313-3, doi:10.2760/2115, JRC113418.

Read the whole report here 

© Linda Jackson via Food Focus