Food and Drink Production – The Importance of Sustainability

“Green” and Sustainable Processing are Key Priorities for 2016

The environmental credentials of individual companies, as well as industries as a whole, are important to consumers and brands alike. And in 2016, they’re going to get even more important, along with other factors such as quality, health, provenance and convenience.

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You’ve heard the buzzwords. ‘Sustainability’, ‘going green’, ‘carbon footprint’, ‘environmental impact’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘saving the planet’. You can probably add a few more similar terms to this list. They have different meanings, but are all related, and most have been around for many years. However, while these were once just a loose collection of ideas mainly confined to hippies, non-conformists and eccentrics, they’re now firmly in the mainstream.

Sustainability Becoming Essential

A recent article by the innovation charity Nesta suggests that while four out of ten shoppers consider price the key criteria while food shopping, the remaining six out of ten take in to account other factors as well. These factors include sustainability. Similarly, according to research company Mintel’s Global Food and Drink Trends 2016 Report, sustainability will evolve from simply being good for the bottom line to an essential new product development consideration for the common good.

Big Brands On Board

So, sustainability is important. Big brands such as Nestlé, the world’s largest food and drink processor, take it extremely seriously. For example, Nestlé has implemented a ‘Caring for the Climate’ strategy to mitigate the environmental impact of its business. It aims to help reduce climate change by ensuring efficient energy use and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of its products, services and processes. So far, the strategy seems to be working well; in November 2015, Nestlé announced it had been recognised as a ‘world leader’ for its work to tackle climate change by sustainability ratings agency CDP.

Food and Drink Processers Leading the Way

It makes sense that businesses in the food and drink processing industries should lead the way in tackling climate change; not least because they are two of the sectors with the most to lose. Changing weather patterns, extremes of hot and cold, prolonged rainfall and droughts can have catastrophic effects on harvests and food production. This is on top of an increasingly discerning market demanding its suppliers have clear, demonstrable green credentials.

Waste Reduction

Throughout the world, a massive amount of food is wasted. An Institution of Mechanical Engineers Global Food Report suggests that we are currently wasting up to half of all food reduced, and therefore it’s imperative that engineers act quickly and promote sustainable methods of reducing waste throughout the production chain. Throwing away so much useable food cannot be sustainable.

So, how do food and drink processors reduce waste and become greener?

Pigging Systems Give Quick Results

Technology has a lot to offer and can help across the board. While some initiatives can take a while to implement or take a major shift in attitudes, company culture or operational procedures, others, such as Hygienic or Sanitary Pigging systems, can show results extremely quickly.

Pigging systems recover up to 99.5% of residual liquid food or drink left in pipelines during processing. Even though this product is completely useable, without pigging it would be discarded or flushed away. Therefore, pigging is a quick and easy way to significantly reduce wastage of useable food or drink.

Saving Resources

With a typical payback period of less than 12 months, pigging systems can be added to existing pipework or plant with minimal disruption to operations (they can of course also be built in as part of new-build processing systems). Once implemented, they reduce water usage and the use of cleaning chemicals, save energy, labour and other resources and lower waste transportation costs. Here’s an infographic showing how pigging has an extremely positive environmental impact. For food and drink processors, pigging should be a part of your environmental strategy, helping reduce carbon footprint, increase sustainability and improve your green credentials.

Sustainability and Profits

The food and drink market is changing. A few years ago, the majority of companies that deployed pigging systems were primarily interested in increasing profits through product recovery and waste reduction. Of course, this is still important, but the green and sustainable benefits pigging systems deliver are, for an increasing number of food and drink processors, just as important as the increased profits.

More Information

Click Here to Download our FREE guide to Hygienic Pigging for Food and Beverage Companies >>

For more information about improving your food or drink processing operation by using hygienic or sanitary pigging systems, liquid product recovery or transfer solutions, please contact HPS or your nearest HPS representative.