A project to establish standardised metrics to measure environmental performance in the food and drink sector has been launched by the Environment Agency.

The agency – working in partnership with the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, WRAP and the British Standards Institute – is aiming to make it simpler for businesses and the public to understand the environmental performance of companies in key areas such as greenhouse gas reduction and resource efficiency.

The initiative will help manufacturers to more effectively communicate their environmental performance to the public, minimising the opportunity for greenwashing, the agency said.

It is also hoped that it will incentivise companies toward greener manufacturing processes and business operations helping to tackle climate change.

Communicating environmental performance

Project lead 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.

'It aims to provide an effective and efficient solution to enable the automation of environmental performance data transfer across different food businesses.'

Industry partners

The project has been assisted by a £195,000 grant from the £3.7 million 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 to understand and ensure the feasibility of the metrics.