Food Processing: Establishing Sustainability At The Heart Of Business

We’ve had quite the rough start to the year 2021, but don’t let recent events dissuade you from looking at this year in the broader scheme of things. This year marks the beginning of a decade dedicated to Ocean Science Sustainable Development, taking another step toward reaching a more sustainable world and offering modern solutions during this time of new normalcy.

So, what better place to start than revisiting businesses’ environmental responsibility to create greener operations and innovating with sustainable processes. And, for today’s topic of discussion, we’ll be looking into the food processing industry, the cornerstone of everything we get to eat but also one of the biggest producers of waste.

Sustainability Is The Future

While sustainability and its usual posse of words like recycling and waste management may seem like a thing of the past with the pandemic running amok, it is still happening, and it’s a goal that we must achieve. Of course, while health and safety are our current top priority, we must not forget our responsibility to the environment, for, without it, there is no future waiting for us.

If we look at the numbers, nearly 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste is generated every year, which is a staggering amount of waste that is displaced and value lost. As a result, companies in the food processing industry must spearhead change and adopt greener solutions.

#1 Measuring Carbon Footprint

While the evaluation and measurement of carbon footprint have been enforced across many business sectors, we should proactively do our part in measuring the amount of greenhouse gas emissions of the business without being told. From processing, manufacturing, packaging, and delivery of the end-product, it is evident that carbon emissions are present at every stage. Abiding by a gold standard will help us layout a framework for change.

  • Identify Reduction Opportunities: An overview of your carbon footprint will point out where most of the emission sources are coming from. These specific areas for improvement are your reduction opportunities. From optimizing the freight system used by the business and limiting the amount of single-use plastics utilized in the supply-chain process, these are all excellent reduction opportunities.
  • Invest in Carbon Offsets: While some would critique that carbon offsets prevent a business from changing, we should also understand that there’s a limit to how much we can reduce and stay efficient. So, after you’ve exhausted all your reduction opportunities, you’ll want to invest in carbon offsets to bring down your carbon footprint.

#2 Implementing Sustainable Procurement

Another excellent green solution that all food processing companies should adopt is practicing the sustainable procurement of raw ingredients and goods to create their products. Although the acquisition of raw ingredients may seem like an initial step that needs no fixing, this first step is often victim to numerous environmental factors. To initiate change, sustainable procurement evolves the purchasing function by embedding sustainability and the associated environmental risks into the decision-making process.

  • Do a Waste Audit: Besides taking a look at the start of the process, we also strongly recommend reviewing the end-part and conducting a proper waste audit. This formal, structured process will identify the specific amount and types of waste generated by the organization and be an effective eye-opener. It’s also an essential first step in achieving a zero waste to landfill goal.
  • Do an Energy Audit: Factories and huge warehouses rely on energy performance to stay effective and run indefinitely, but that also means they are at risk of inefficiency. Conducting an energy audit with the help of a certified technician to inspect and survey the energy usage of your general operations, you will find opportunities to cut back on your energy wasted and also save on costs.

#3 Maximizing Operational Efficiency

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Lastly, while action plans should make the bulk of your overall sustainability framework, instilling a mindset for maximizing operational efficiency while understanding sustainability should be at the core of every employee and the business’s heart. Yes, businesses exist to turn a profit, but there is a lot more profit to be realized when you are efficient, and double that when you are sustainable.

  • OEE: OEE stands for “Overall Equipment Effectiveness,” and it is a method of evaluating the productivity and efficiency of a process, piece of equipment, or machinery. This approach states that you should consider three factors; availability, performance, and quality, and these should be the criteria for selecting green technology. So, we recommended that all your food processing equipment, from emulsifiers to oil-free compressors, should be subject to this evaluation with sustainability in mind.

Be The Change

Achieving a sustainable future is a difficult task, but not an impossible one. Don’t fall into the herd mentality of waiting for others to make a move, be the change, and inspire others in the food processing industry to follow after. Even the slightest improvement can be the spark for a multitude of progress.

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