A group of leading UK food and drink manufacturers is pledging to reduce water use under a new programme designed to improve their environmental credentials and cut costs.
The 21 companies, which include the UK divisions of multinational groups such as Kellogg, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever, will work with experts at government-funded consultancy Envirowise who will review water use at their facilities and advise on actions to improve efficiency.
The firms have promised to carry out recommended improvements in water use within six months time although they did not specify actual targets for reduction. They will also report annually to Envirowise on water and cost savings made on site.
The UK industry body, the Food and Drink Federation, said that the programme could save some 140 million litres of water per day and around £60m (€80.7m) per year on water bills if it was implemented across the industry.
The FDF announced last year that its members would reduce water use by 20 per cent between 2007 and 2020 as part of a new Food Industry Sustainability Strategy. They are also aiming to reduce CO2 emissions by 20 per cent by 2010 compared to 1990 and have pledged that no food and packaging waste will go to landfill from 2015.
The industry is under pressure to reduce its impact on the environment and support government targets for lowering carbon dioxide emissions. Individual companies have also revealed their own sustainability plans in recent months.
Earlier this month United Biscuits promised to reduce water use by 25 per cent by 2020 compared with 2007 as part of its new strategy to protect the environment.
Fiona Dawson, managing director of Mars Snackfood UK and chair of FDF's Sustainability and Competitiveness Steering Group, said her firm has used 40 per cent less water in 2007 than the previous year.
Robert Schofield, chief executive of Premier Foods, the UK's largest food manufacturer, said: "We have a number of projects already underway to recycle water and reduce our usage. Such actions make sense for our business and for the environment."
The companies signed up to the water commitments also include apetito, Birds Eye Iglo, Britvic, Cadbury Schweppes, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Foods UK, Mars Snackfood, Müller Dairy, PepsiCo UK, Premier Foods, Tate & Lyle, UIN Foods, Uniq, United Biscuits, Warburtons, Weetabix and Young's Seafood. In all, the 21 companies represent a major portion of the industry with a combined annual turnover of £15 billion each year.
More information about the Federation House Commitment is available at www.FHC2020.co.uk