United Biscuits unveils environment plan

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cent Carbon dioxide United biscuits

UK biscuit and snack maker United Biscuits said yesterday it will
cut its carbon emissions by more than a third by 2020 and reduce
water and packaging use by a fifth as part of a new strategy to
reduce the impact of its operations on the environment.

The announcement comes as pressure grows on the food and beverage industry to make their operations more sustainable.

UB, Britain's largest snack maker, said it has been making changes over several years but has now set ambitious targets.

It has been developing new oven burners that are being tested at its Harlesden, North London biscuit factory and will be rolled out to a further five factories over the next three years.

The new technology will help it cut carbon emissions by 35 per cent by 2020 compared with its 1995 emissions.

The biscuit maker also wants to send zero waste to landfill by 2010 and zero non-food waste to landfill by 2015, while water use will be cut by a quarter by 2020 compared with 2007 through water conservation programmes that improve filtration and re-use water to wash raw materials.

It will, in addition, reduce the total weight of packaging by 20 per cent by 2015 compared with 2003.

Currently more than 80 per cent by weight of all packaging is readily recyclable, says UB, and more than 90 per cent of the cardboard used is recycled board.

The firm is working with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a UK-based organization targeted with helping reduce industrial waste, to develop new and more effective wrapping for the biscuit and snack markets.

"Work is underway with a snacks film provider to create a new film with a 17 per cent reduction in weight, thereby reducing the total packaging used for snacks," said UB in a statement released yesterday.

Finally, it wants to cut carbon dioxide emissions from its vehicles by 22 per cent by 2012.

It will also require new and existing suppliers to meet specific requirements for sustainable ingredients sourcing.

United Biscuits, owned by private equity groups The Blackstone Group and France's PAI, has come under pressure from climate campaigners for not revealing its emissions or setting any reduction targets.

"To safeguard the interests of its employees, as well as to protect the world's poorest people, a big player like United Biscuits must both report and cut what it emits," said the charity Christian Aid in a statement in Octobe r.

In the same month, the UK trade body, the Food and Drink Federation pledged that its members would cut packing materials by 340,000 tonnes by 2010, from the 4.6m tonnes used in 2005, a reduction of 13 per cent.

Its members also promised to achieve a 20 per cent absolute reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010 compared to 1990 and pledged that no food and packaging waste would go to landfill from 2015.

Callton Young, director of sustainability at the FDF called UB's new environmental policy "exemplary in so many ways".

"It covers the key environmental priorities faced by the UK food and drink industry and includes milestones for making real and measurable progress."

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