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New toolkit could help green supply chain

By Jane Byrne , 03-Oct-2008
Last updated on 03-Oct-2008 at 16:03 GMT

Envirowise claims its new supply chain toolkit will help food and drink companies to cut costs while enhancing relationships with suppliers.

 

The UK government funded agency said that its four-CD toolkit aims to assist producers in reducing waste, unlocking hidden profits and improving environmental performance.

Sustainable growth is proving to be a key concern for all players in the food supply chain, with financial forecasters predicting tough times ahead for the global economy.

“The need to make efficiencies across the supply chain and work together with suppliers for mutual business benefit has never been greater,” according to Envirowise.

Resource efficiency

A spokesperson for the agency told FoodProductionDaily.com that the toolkit gives food and drink manufacturers a structured, interactive programme to initiate resource efficiency in areas such as water minimisation, energy management, greener procurement, reduction in packaging costs and transport logistics.

According to Envirowise, the material in the toolkit, such as video presentations, tips, templates and exercises, is based on the experience of its work with supply chains over six years and it claims: “A 10 to 15 strong business supply chain can make savings of more than £150,000 (€191,406) by working together to improve resource efficiency.”

Benefits

Envirowise cites the example of Scottish drink company, Allied Distillers Limited (ADL), which, it said, decided to involve its key suppliers in an initiative to encourage resource efficiency.

Participating companies attended two Envirowise supported training workshops on waste minimisation reviews, learning how to develop a mass balance, calculate waste costs, identify the root causes of waste and plan a waste minimisation strategy, said the spokesperson.

According to the agency, reviews were then completed with the help of the programme consultant, and the results of these were discussed at a third workshop, during which each supply company outlined its proposed waste minimisation action plan.

“The benefits to ADL and the seven suppliers included cost savings of £1.2 million (€1.5m) a year, reduction in materials use of 945 tonnes a year, reduction in water use and effluent generation of 48,000 m3 a year as well as energy savings of over 78,000 GJ a year,” said Envirowise.

The Supply Chain Partnership Toolkit can be accessed via Envirowise’s website.

Beyond compliance

A study by US-based management and technology consultants Diamond released earlier this year said that firms are keen to 'go green' because it helps improve not only their image but also their bottom line.

"Green supply chain initiatives have moved rapidly from mere compliance with environmental regulation towards a means of effecting real cost savings in areas such as energy conservation or recycling," said Diamond analysts Mark Baum and Darin Yug.

Greening the chain

Callton Young, director of sustainability at the UK's Food and Drink Federation (FDF) claims that consumers expect businesses to be good corporate citizens, including in their environmental performance.

The FDF hosted an event in London earlier this year, bringing together around 200 representatives from food and drink companies, academia and environmental organisations including the Carbon Trust, to examine how to develop a greener food supply chain.

"By hosting events such as this where companies can share knowledge and experience in areas such as energy efficiency, transport and waste reduction we hope to stimulate uptake of best practice throughout the food chain," said Young.

"We want companies to be inspired and take back to their places of work, ideas for making a real difference to the environment whether for direct application or future development," he added.

Transport scheme

And the food and grocery think-tank, IGD, claims collaboration between leading food manufacturers and retailers will reduce the environmental impact of transporting food and groceries in the UK.

The Sustainable Distribution scheme is a direct response to spiralling energy costs as well as demands from consumers for a reduction in the number of food miles incurred in the distribution of products, said IGD.

Currently 37 of the UK's biggest food and drink companies have signed up for the initiative, including Coca Cola, Coors, Northern Foods, Heinz and Asda.

The initiative will result in the removal of 800 trucks from UK roads this year, which will result in savings of about 23 million litres of diesel fuel per year, claims IGD.

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