Lord Smith, the chairman for the Environment Agency in the UK, paid a visit to Europe’s largest Coca-Cola plant this week, and on his tour he underlined the importance of green growth. Speaking about the business merits of green growth, Lord Smith said that the green business practices of the food and drink sector have been one of the “unsung successes” of environmental regulation, furthermore showing how such regulations are helping the UK economy.
Now, the food and drink sector is arguably one of the largest producers of waste in daily life. Food waste is a massive problem all around the world, and the packaging waste created via soft drinks and other food chains is often a cause for concern. In fact, it is estimated that the UK food industry accounts for about 5% of all national industrial water use. Studies also show that as a result of assorted operations, 2.5m tonnes of carbon were released into the atmosphere last year and 3m tonnes of waste was produced. However, Lord Smith noted that changes in business policy has led to substantial shifts in the industry.
“What we are doing over the course of this month is to highlight good environment practice in a whole range of different businesses across the country,” Lord Smith said, speaking at Coca-Cola‘s facility in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. “One of the unsung successes of environmental regulation over the past 20 years is a steady progress in achieving better environmental performance from businesses of all kinds.”
“This is not just good for the environment, but it is good business sense as well because – very often – reducing waste, energy use and the amount of water used makes financial sense.”
While it makes sense for the Environment Agency head to promote green business, he did note that the sector had been “generally compliant”, with more than 80% of audited businesses being rated as “A&B”. He also wasn’t afraid to point out the industry’s faults saying, it is “a very intensive, waste producing, water guzzling sector.” He added, “There is good progress, but because it is such an impactful industry, there is scope to improve.”
The Coca-Cola facility at Wakefield produces 6,000 cans and 3,200 bottles of soft drink every minute. It has recently been praised for cutting its water use dramatically and not sending any waste to landfill since 2009.
Speaking to BBC News, Ian Johnson, Director of Supply Chain Operations at the Coca-Cola’s Wakefield plant, said: “Our company philosophy is to continue to grow more while using less. A great deal of consideration is given to the environmental footprint of our products. We also recognize that water is a precious resource, and work towards greater efficiency throughout our operations with our ‘reduce, recycle and replenish’ policy.”
Via BBC News