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Fast facts on sustainability

A list of top line information on industry's impact, targets and achievement in the arena of sustainability

About this article

Need to know what the food & grocery industry is doing to become more sustainable?

We have compiled a list of top line information on industry’s impacts, its targets and achievements covering the following key sustainability related topics: 

  • Greenhouse gases
  • Energy efficiency
  • Distribution
  • Waste
  • Water

Please click on the above topic title to move straight to the section.

You can also access more information about these topics within each section through factsheets, articles, best practice examples and other insight that we have hosted on our free sustainability resource by following the links.

Greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gasesBackground

UK food chain is responsible for 18% of UK GHG emissions associated with all UK economic activity (Source: Defra)

Direct emissions from agriculture accounted for about 8% of UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 (Source: Defra)

Total carbon stored in UK soils and forests is equivalent to over 37 billion tonnes of CO2 (more than 50 times the UK's annual emissions) (Source: DECC)

Industry targets

20% reduction in CO2 by 2010, compared to 1990, and 35% reduction by 2020 (Source: FDF)

Reduce yearly emissions from livestock and fertiliser (agriculture) by 6% (3 million tonnes CO2e) by 2020, compared with current projected levels (July 2009) (Source: DECC)

Industry achievements

CO2 emissions reduced by 19% in 2008, compared to a 1990 baseline. Equivalent to almost 1 million tonnes CO2 reduced (Source: FDF)

More information

For more facts, articles and insight visit our Greenhouse Gases information resource.

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Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiencyBackground

UK food industry accounts for about 14% of energy consumption by UK businesses and 7 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year (Source: Defra)

Industry targets

Energy-related emissions from buildings (new target): 25% reduction by 2013 (LFL), compared to 2005 levels (Source: BRC)

Industry achievements

Energy-related emissions from buildings reduced by 17% on 2005 levels (Source: BRC)

Energy consumption by UK farmers has fallen 22% over the last 10 years, when both direct and indirect usage are included where farm output has fallen by only 7% (Source: Defra)

More information

For more facts, articles and insight visit our Energy Efficiency information resource.

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Distribution

DistributionBackground

Food industry accounts for about 25% of all HGV vehicle kilometres in the UK (Source: Defra)

Industry targets

Grocery sector to reduce HGV miles by 80m between 2010 and 2012 (Source: IGD)

Reduce energy-related transport CO2 emissions from store deliveries by 15% by 2013, compared to 2005 levels (Source: BRC)

Industry achievements

At the end of 2011 the grocery sector has reduced HGV miles by 204m (Source: IGD)

Reduced energy-related transport CO2 emissions from store deliveries by 12%, compared to 2005 (Source: BRC)

More information

For more facts, articles and insight visit our Distribution information resource.

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Waste

WasteBackground

Defra estimates that 10.5 million tonnes of packaging entered the UK waste stream in 2006; according to Envirowise the food and drink industry is responsible for over 50% of this (Source: Defra)

Industry targets

To reduce the weight, increase recycling rates and increase the recycled content of all grocery packaging, as appropriate. Through these measures the aim is to reduce the carbon impact of this grocery packaging 10% (Source: WRAP)

To reduce traditional grocery product and packaging waste in the grocery supply chain by 5% - including both solid and liquid wastes (Source: WRAP)

FDF focused on ensuring the core Courtauld Commitment objective of demonstrating a significant absolute reduction in packaging by 2010, compared to 2006 (Source: FDF)

To reduce the number of single-use carrier bags given out by 50% by end of May 2009, based on a 2006 baseline (Source: WRAP)

Industry achievements

There is now zero growth in grocery packaging and a real decline is expected this year (Source: WRAP)

Results announced in July 2009 show a 48% reduction in the number of single-use carrier bags given out (Source: WRAP)

Results announced in September 2010 show that 520,000 tonnes of packaging has been avoided across the UK between 2005 and 2009 (Source: WRAP)

More information

For more facts, articles and insight visit our Packaging & Waste information resource.

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Water

WaterBackground

Food industry accounts for about 10% of all industrial use of the public water supply (Source: Defra)

Industry targets

Measure water use in sites, collectively anticipated as accounting for at least 75% of usage, and setting targets for reductions by 2012 (Source: BRC)

Reduce water use by 20% by 2020, based on 2007 Federation House Commitment Progress report 2009 (Source: WRAP)

Industry achievements

In 2008 retail outlets accounting for 55% of total sales measured their water consumption (Source: BRC)

475,000 cubic metres of water saved in 2008; equivalent to 1.7% reduction based on 2007. Savings of £500,000 in purchase of water.

Water usage per tonne of product in 2008 decreased by 1.4% (2007 baseline), excluding water embedded in products (Source: WRAP)

More information

For more facts, articles and insight visit our Water information resource.

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Further information

Fast factsFood Statistics Pocketbook

Defra’s annual Food Statistics Pocketbook provides a round-up of statistics on food covering the economic, social and environmental aspects of the food we eat (excluding agriculture).

 

Below are links to Defra’s Food Statistics Pocketbook

  • Food Statistics Pocketbook 2013 (PDF)
  • Food Statistics Pocketbook 2012 (PDF)
  • Food Statistics Pocketbook 2011 (PDF)
  • Food Statistics Pocketbook 2010 (PDF)
  • Food Statistics Pocketbook 2009 (PDF)
  • Food Statistics Pocketbook 2008 (PDF)

Economic significance of the food sector

  • The agri-food sector contributed £84.6 billion to the economy in 2008, 7.1% of the total and including the UK’s largest manufacturing sector.
  • 3 million people are employed in food and farming, of which 2.4 million are in the retail and food service sectors.
  • Consumer expenditure on food and drink was £177 billion in 2009
  • The UK exported £13.2 billion worth of food and drink in 2008
  • The UK imported £31.6 billion worth of food and drink in 2008

Source: Defra’s website, accessed 13.12.2010

Key Green Growth Facts:

  • The green economy is valued as being worth at least £112 billion in the UK – 5-10% of GDP and £3.2 trillion worldwide.
  • The Government estimates that the green economy currently accounts for over 900,000 jobs in the UK – around 3% of all jobs
  • It also currently accounts for £10.8 billion of exports – c. 5% of all exports

Source: Carbon Trust website, accessed 25.03.2011

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Related information

Sustainability

Everything you need to know about sustainability

There are many examples of how the food and grocery industry is building sustainable supply chains all over the world. This is our one-stop-shop for everything you need.

Free Water Stewardship report

Download our free report highlighting the impact of drought on resilience in the food and grocery industry and the need for greater levels of collaboration on water stewardship.