Australian food industry working towards sustainability: AFGC

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 9th June 2009

Australia’s leading food and beverage companies have highlighted their commitment to sustainable manufacturing with lower energy production and sustainable packaging options to celebrate World Environment Day last Friday.

A wide range of companies have committed to environmentally-friendly practices to produce their food products, including Kraft which has led the way with its icon product Vegemite, manufactured at the company’s Port Melbourne – according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC). The company has reduced energy use at the plant by 39 per cent and waste by 55 per cent and is also supplying recycled water to community projects.

Wine company Wolf Blass – part of the Foster’s Group – has launched Wolf Blass Green Label in a new lightweight plastic wine bottle which produces 29 per cent less Greenhouse Gas Emissions compared to the same wine in a 750ml industry standard 515g glass bottle.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell applauded these initiatives along with a range of other practices aimed at increasing the sustainability of the sector, including:

* Kellogg has set a goal of reducing waste, water and energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions by 15-20 per cent by 2015. Projects to achieve this goal include improving staff awareness and understanding of waste disposal procedures resulting in reduced food waste and less waste to land fill.
* George Weston Foods is exploring ways to reduce water usage at its Dandenong site in Victoria through a comprehensive monitoring program with the Victorian State Government.
* Unilever’s Lipton has committed to sourcing all its tea sustainably by working with the Rainforest Alliance to ensure certification of tea estates.
* SCA Hygiene has a global goal of reducing 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, which will be achieved through its ESAVE initiative at all their paper making sites.

Ms Carnell said AFGC was exploring new ways for industry in Australia to better utilise resources – including water recycling – in partnership with the CSIRO, Woolworths and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

“World Environment Day is an ideal time for everyone, including food manufacturers, to reflect how they affect the environment and make commitments to reducing their impact on the planet,” Ms Carnell advised.