An audit tool for environmental measurement in the UK food sector


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An audit toolkit was developed to enable food companies to measure their suppliers in terms of environmental management. Environmental practices and performance metrics were audited using a customised survey that enabled the quantification of best practice, common practice and areas for improvement. It was tested on six suppliers to a major fresh food company. Key areas of best practice included separation and recycling of waste streams, efforts to reduce use of raw materials, energy, water, pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. Some suppliers were working with stakeholders to reduce environmental impacts. The supplier with the best environmental performance had developed and implemented an Environmental Management Policy and was working towards ISO 14001 accreditation. The study identified four areas for improvement by the suppliers. These were the implementation of an Environmental Management System, the sourcing of more renewable materials and energy, the systematic measurement of the food miles of products and carbon and water footprinting.