Food and drink industry has recipe for net zero carbon footprint

03 June 2020 by Liam Goldsworthy
blog author

The food and drink industry can achieve a net zero carbon footprint goal by 2050, provided the government chips in, according to a report.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and SLR Consulting published a report which sets out how the ambitious target can be met and the support it will require from government to transition to carbon neutrality.

FDF is the oice of the UK food and drink industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the country and SLR is an Oxfordshire-based international environmental consultancy.

Their report called ‘Decarbonisation of Heat Across the Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector’, highlights how industry, partners and government, can support decarbonisation. It comes as the UK government seeks to invest in low carbon technologies when boosting the economic recovery post Covid-19.

Key recommendations in the report include facilitating knowledge-sharing across the sector via an industry taskforce for technology innovations and implementation.

It also suggested that Local Enterprise Partnerships should gather key stakeholders to address local area planning challenges in electricity and gas networks and recommended that the UK government implements a third phase of Climate Change Agreements beyond 2025.

Last June, the government committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 80 per cent to net zero by 2050 but has not yet updated the 2015 Food and Drink sector roadmap detailing how such a transition can be achieved. The report called for collaboration between the government and the food and drink industry for a financial support scheme for industrial decarbonisation.

Without intervention, the net zero target will not be met, leaving the industry to reduce heat emissions by 64 per cent, compared to 2012.

The FDF and its member companies have reduced CO2 emissions by 53 per cent in manufacturing operations, compared to the 1990 baseline.

Emma Piercy, head of energy and climate change at FDF, said:“As the UK's largest manufacturing sector, the food and drink industry is absolutely committed to a green recovery post Covid-19 and achieving the government's net zero
carbon target by 2050. In producing this report, we have identified a clear pathway to net zero and the challenges we will need to overcome in order to meet that target.

“But we can't do it alone. Businesses will need clear direction and support to make that transition.”

Julie Gartside, European operations manager for advisory services at SLR Consulting, said: “There are reasons to be optimistic because deep decarbonisation of heat used by the food and drink sector is technically possible. However, the changes required to manufacturing processes and energy supply systems to achieve it are so significant that the sector cannot do this alone.

“Collaboration between the food and drink sector, government, equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders will be needed to realise the opportunity before us.”