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Government aims to reduce food industry waste by up to a fifth

Reducing food waste created by the food manufacturing sector by 15-20% by 2010 is one of the aims in the Government’s new Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS).

The Strategy plans to tackle the impact of the food industry on resources and contains a section on achieving more sustainable waste management within the industry.

According to the Strategy the food industry faces three particular challenges with regard to waste: packaging, food industry wastes, and its influence over household waste.

It states: “The challenge is for the food industry to reduce the amount of food and packaging waste that is produced each year, both by the industry itself and by consumers of their products, without compromising food safety; and to recycle or otherwise gain value from the waste that does arise.”

Looking to future regulations, the document mentions there may be a proposal for a second phase of the review of the EU Packaging Directive which might look at prevention of packaging waste, re-use of packaging and the introduction of a specific reference to producer responsibility.

Launching the strategy, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Margaret Beckett said: “The Strategy will provide a framework for the food and drink sector to play its part by making sustainability its goal. It must be viewed as the beginning of a process — not the end.”

It has been estimated that waste produced by food and drink manufacturing sector makes up about 10% of the total industrial and commercial waste in England and Wales.

British Retail Consortium (BRC) director general Kevin Hawkins said: “The BRC fully supports the aims of a well designed and targeted strategy.

“Our members have now been working for several years to deliver the strategy’s main objectives, including a resource-efficient supply chain and ethical trading. These are already common themes for retailers and are part of their established business plans. That is why retailers will play a key role as industry champions to help pass their experience on to others in the supply chain and help deliver the strategy on the ground.”

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