Food sector's waste management proves its adaptability
12 Sep 2018
The Food and drink industry has reason to view the immediate economic future with trepidation.
Even if its frequent warning calls to government are heeded and acted upon, the sector faces one of the harshest adaptations of any process area.
Heavily dependent upon a labour force this country cannot alone provide, it must transform fast. That means increased automation and digitalisation.
But as our cover feature highlights, the food and drink sector has been no slouch when circumstances demand and the benefits are apparent.
Waste management is one area in which it has made significant, even exemplary progress in recent years.
In less than a decade, Food and Drink Federation members alone have diverted more than 0.8 million tonnes of food and packaging from landfill in favour of more ecologically sound alternatives such as landspreading and thermal treatment/ energy recovery.
In less than a decade, FDF members alone have diverted more than 0.8 million tonnes of food and packaging from landfill
Government incentives have helped considerably but as ever the driver for change has been technological innovations aimed at refining processes in order to eliminate more and smaller sources of waste.
Not only have methods become increasingly precise and targeted, they have also intruded (in an entirely welcome sense) more comprehensively in the manufacturing chain – with the aim of waste elimination at the earliest feasible opportunity.
All of which should give cause for confidence in food and drink’s ability to confront the unforeseen challenges that will emerge in the next five years.
Not just hot air
There must be times when Professor Mike Bradley feels like a modern-day Cassandra, commendably and regularly highlighting the very varied standards of ATEX enforcement in the process world.
Now he has flagged the growing use of wood pellets outside the industrial sphere – a trend that reflects a growing interest in responsible food and energy sources but which threatens serious consequences of its own because of the lack of regulation and advice available.
A first step might be a clear requirement for certified training for those managing pellet stores, maybe accompanied by an appropriate tax-related incentive?