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EU - Green Supply Chain

What is Green Supply Management and its level of importance within the EU?

Food security, long term sustainability and how we responsibly manage these important topics are quickly moving higher up the agenda of European governments, international organisations and associations as consumer awareness steadily increases. The importance of managing "green" coexists with the world facing an unprecedented challenge brought about by a growing world population that is set to spiral towards 9.2 billion by 2050 and the global food challenge that is leading to countries around the world being destabilised by food price inflation. The need to produce more food, but in a way that does not degrade natural resources is at the heart of the challenge for food producers globally.

EU a leader in Green Supply Chain Responsibility and Development

How Green Are you? What is the current role of the environment in your business?

It is important to assess the role of the environment in your business and as a potential EU supplier.  Some important dominant areas to consider would include water efficiency and reducing water consumption in business best practices. Another important area of self assessment includes waste management. The production and disposal of all forms of waste including machinery, inputs and packaging are critical to assessing the environmental impact of your business.

Food Product Packaging

Pressure on suppliers to reduce packaging has dramatically increased in the past few years. Consumer perceptions, fuelled by media calls for more 'sustainable' packaging, are driving an awareness of objectives whilst minimizing its impact on the environment. Recovery, including recycling of used packaging is very successful in the EU. Advances in technology have permitted the industry to explore ever more effective means of ensuring packaging is safer and more sustainable.

Greener food transport

Distribution and transportation are also under scrutiny for threatening efforts toward a more sustainable  food chain. Carbon emissions and air pollution pose the most significant risks during the distribution stage, but this does depend on the mode of freight chosen and the type of fuel used. Reducing food miles is something that is high on the agenda for the UK's Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and which forms part of its Five-fold Environmental Ambition. As an example of this commitment, FDF launched its Checklist and Clause for Greener Food  Transport. By achieving 'fewer and friendlier' food transport miles, FDF members  will  contribute  to  the  challenge thrown down in the Food Industry Sustainability Strategy for the food chain to reduce its environmental and social impacts by 20 percent by 2012 compared to 2002.

Reducing energy consumption

The food supply chain is obviously highly dependent on energy at all stages and currently this energy is mostly derived from fossil fuels. In fact the energy consumption of the food and drinks industry is already quite low compared to other sectors, but there are many ways in which the consumption can be lowered still. This is a critical issue given its importance to EU buyers who are increasingly demanding that their suppliers are considering energy consumption within their operations.

The current economic climate has served as a catalyst  for  lowering  energy  consumption, which is now a major priority for the food and drink industry as the price of energy continues to rise. The food and drinks industry is adopting measures that should help it not only in its mission to reduce its environmental footprint, but also to help it to cut costs and enhance its competitiveness.  According to Toby Prickard, a Business Analyst in Market Intelligence at IGD, businesses that recognise the opportunities that being sustainable represent will be best placed to succeed in the current economic climate, and in the future. He points out that they clearly see the move to sustainability as a benefit to the environment, their consumers and their balance sheets - thereby fully incorporating the triple bottom line of sustainability.