The EU's food and drink industry yesterday launched an action plan to help the bloc's 280,000 manufacturers reduce their manufacturing impact on the environment.
In the main, the programme is an attempt to share best-practice information among the EU's food and drink manfacturers, especially the small and medium sized companies that may not have enough resources at their disposal.
The programme is outlined in a 64-page report and on a dedicated website created by the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the European Union (CIAA).
The publication highlights issues, industry actions and future strategies relating to raw materials, resource efficiency, waste, energy, water, packaging, transportation and distribution efficiency, among other topics.
It also outlines the CIAA's lobbying position on the EU's environmental strategies, including those relating to the bloc's emissions trading scheme, waste reduction targets, and proposed Integrated Product Policy (IPP).
Current strategies being followed by food and drink companies to meet consumer and regulatory demands for increased environmental responsiblity are also outlined in the report, along with priority areas requring further action by these businesses.
The action plan outlined by the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the European Union (CIAA) is based on a study the organisation published this year on environmental sustainability.
The CIAA said the new report represents industry's attempt to debate environmental sustainability as an "antidote to sometimes short-sighted initiatives targeting just one stage in the supply chain without weighing potential side effects".
"In order to be effective, cooperative action on environmental sustainability in the food chain must involve all key players according to their environmental impact, including farmers and manufacturers, the transport sector, retailers, consumers and others," the CIAA stated in the report.
The CIAA has long complained that industry is being pressured by politicians into reducing environmental impact in some areas, such as packaging and greenhouse gas output, without proper consideration of the consequences and costs.
"We invite all stakeholders inside and outside the food chain to a constructive debate on collective responsibility," said CIAA president Jean Martin. "Our report highlights the value that food and drink manufacturers can bring to the table."
The report attempts to demonstrat through case studies how protection of the environment makes business sense, Martin stated.
The case studies are also aimed at helping small- and medium-sized enterprises develop in house environmental programmes.
The EU has been in the process of placing the food industry under increasing regulatory control, mainly due to public concerns about the environment, safety, quality and the amount of information it receives about the products they eat.
In general, the CIAA's general stance has been toward attempting to hold back the tide of legislation in favour of self-regulation.
The EU's food and drink sector has an annual turnover of about €836bn, making it the largest manufacturing industry in the bloc, ahead of the automobile and chemical sectors.
France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Spain are the leading producers of food and drinks in the EU accounting for about 70 per cent of the total turnover.
The report is available here: http://envi.ciaa.eu/