A project to establish standardised metrics to measure environmental performance and tackle greenwashing across the food and beverage sector has been launched by the Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency – working in partnership with the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Waste and Resources Action Programme and the British Standards Institute – is “aiming to make it simpler for businesses and for the public to understand the environmental performance of companies in key areas such as greenhouse gas reduction and resource efficiency”.
The initiative will aim to help manufacturers to more effectively communicate their environmental performance to the public, “minimising the opportunity for greenwashing”.
The project was given a £195,000 grant from the £3.7m Regulators’ Pioneer Fund launched by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The partnership will be working with IEMA, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, trade associations and private sector organisations including Sainsbury’s, Nestle, Cranswick, 2 Sisters and Vitacress.
Becca Tremain of the Environment Agency said: “One of the big challenges for food businesses trying to mitigate climate change is how to communicate their environmental performance that goes beyond legal compliance effectively and efficiently.
“Different food businesses have developed and adopted various environmental metrics and it can be time-consuming for food businesses to collect data from different supplier systems.
This project seeks to address this challenge by standardising environmental metrics for food businesses that go beyond legal compliance.”
She added: “It aims to provide an effective and efficient solution to enable the automation of environmental performance data transfer across different food businesses.”
Sarah Mukherjee, chief executive of IEMA, said: “Measuring the environmental performance of the food and drink sector is a complex task, but a vital one given the size and economic significance of the sector.
“IEMA is uniquely positioned to contribute to the challenge given the expertise of its members in developing approaches to both understanding and mitigating the environmental impacts of supply chains across all areas of the economy.”
Lord Callanan, business minister, added: “Good regulation should spur entrepreneurship, not stand in its way, and this project will help keep the UK at the cutting-edge of innovation. This project aiming to standardise environmental metrics for the food and drink sector could pave the way for exciting developments in the sector, bringing benefits to British businesses and consumers alike.”