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food Marketing - Technology 5/2022

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food Marketing & Technology is the international magazine for executives and specialists in the food industry.

Processing Reducing

Processing Reducing Natural Resource Consumption in Manufacturing by Simon Copley Soaring energy costs in the last year are significantly affecting many manufacturers’ bottom lines. Separately, the consumer pressure on FMCG brands to be more sustainable is only increasing. Where once consumers used to equate the concept of sustainability just with packaging and recycling, now their awareness also includes the natural resources used during manufacture. Combine both of these factors and it’s no wonder that manufacturers are actively examining the sustainability of their manufacturing processes and urgently looking for new ways to reduce their consumption of natural resources like gas, electricity and water. But it’s not always obvious how best to reduce resource consumption during manufacture without affecting the final product quality. This article recommends an approach to investigate your manufacturing process and unlock sustainability improvements, focusing not on the resources that end up as ingredients or materials in the final product, but those used for heating, washing and other processes. More sustainable manufacturing The motivation for manufacturers to increase sustainability is generally for two reasons: • To help reduce environmental impact either from carbon emissions or by-products such as waste water. As the world faces the challenge of drastically reducing emissions and consumption of natural resources, manufacturers need to play their part. • To counteract increasing operating costs for energy, water, or other consumables. Many manufacturers have set themselves tough challenges to reduce natural resource consumption, driven by one or both of the two factors above. But the relative importance of each factor depends on the situation in question: • Environmentally driven: where the aim is often to reduce resource use as cheaply and quickly as possible. Though the emphasis is to achieve genuine results, manufacturers will still be cost sensitive and desire minimal impact to the bottom line. This means that any process changes shouldn’t decrease throughput or increase scrap rates, though one-off CAPEX costs might be acceptable. • Operating cost-driven: where the benefits of reductions in these situations are simpler to judge, given that cost is easier to account for. But the environmental impact is a useful by-product for corporate social responsibility and marketing purposes, although it is a less tangible benefit. As manufacturing consultants, 42 Technology has worked with several FMCG brands who have revisited sustainability initiatives over time with an evolving justification. On one recent project for a widely successful consumer product, the focus several years ago was to achieve a purely environmental improvement without any expenditure. But now, in the face of urgent consumer pressure, there is a larger budget for more significant process alterations. And the recent rise in energy prices has only compounded this, reducing the payback period for expensive improvements and resurrecting options that were once unviable but are now worth investment. photo: DedMityay/Shutterstock food Marketing & Technology • October 2022

Processing food Marketing & Technology • October 2022 23 Key No. 101822

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