How does the beverage industry affect our Environment?

With an increasing concern for sustainable sourcing and sustainable food production, food and beverage manufacturers must be aware of the drivers of change in the industry. Recent studies suggest that the food industry lags behind regarding environmental performance, primarily because of its significant impact on the environment and the fact that food supply accounts for up to 30 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Why Should Manufacturers Focus on Food Sustainability?

Sustainability is a word rarely associated with food production, but food production has a huge impact on the environment at every course of the food production cycle.

  • Agricultural Production: Agricultural production accounts for more than 50 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, 70 percent of river and stream pollution is caused by agricultural waste.
  • Food Manufacturing: Food processing accounts for up to 30 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions and 25 percent of worldwide water consumption. Manufacturing processes also result in the disposal of over 7 percent of farmed food.
  • Food Packaging: Packaging constitutes up to 20 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions, and non-biodegradable packaging has had a severely negative impact on wildlife in both aquatic and terrestrial environments.
  • Plastic Pollution: Projections today show that we now have plastic outnumbering the number of fish in the ocean, The beverage industry today is known to have been overusing plastic for the last 50 years. Most of these bottles are not properly disposed of and so end up in landfills, waterways, choking canals and pollution mangroves.

While providing safe food for the population is the primary focus of the food industry, the environmental impact the food industry causes can’t be ignored. Food production and manufacturing processes, as they exist today, contribute significantly to pollution, water misuse and food waste. In addition to these negative worldwide effects, such unsustainable practices can also turn back on food manufacturers as foodborne illnesses and quality concerns are on the rise in the food manufacturing industry, primarily as a result of quantity-oriented food production practices.

The Benefits of Sustainable Food Manufacturing

The environmental impacts of non-sustainable food production are extensive, which is why many environmentally-minded food manufacturers have turned to sustainable production methods.

Sustainable food production can include everything from modifying processes to be more energy-efficient to sourcing raw materials from sustainable sources and producers.

While this may sound like an unnecessary expense for your food manufacturing business, the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development found that businesses incorporating sustainable practices had greater financial success than those with unsustainable practices. This usually appeared in the form of lower production costs, improved product quality and increased market share.

Sustainable businesses also found that their environmental performance improved, along with their relationships with their stakeholders, while their organizational and procedural risks decreased.

In addition to these benefits, sustainable companies historically experience more stability than their counterparts. A recent study found that sustainable companies financially outperformed their industry.

Popular interest also seems to be in sustainable corporate practices. Consumer interest in sustainable products increased from 50 percent to 70 percent between 2007 and 2010, and popular interest has continued to increase.


Investing In The Future

Sustainability is about investing in future economies where businesses can thrive.

First, environmental stewardship is a major concern. Decision-makers say that environmental risk factors surpass operational challenges globally. The long-term effect of climate change concerns related to water supply and quality, and the threat of erosion are front and centre for these business leaders.

 Motivation For Change

Because of massive raw materials consumption and huge waste in the food and beverage industry, companies will face increasing pressure to become sustainable. The best of them recognizes the existential threat that far surpasses typical and even extraordinary supply chain disruptions and will use that pressure as motivation to adopt transformational technologies and practices on their way to becoming sustainability leaders.

Sustainability is a key issue for the soft drinks industry. Innovations in packaging, efficiencies in transport and savings in energy and water use in the production of soft drinks have enabled us to reduce our environmental impact, but we want to go further.

What is the industry doing?