As consumers around the world become increasingly aware of the environmental consequences of what they eat and drink, manufacturers and producers are taking steps to reduce both carbon footprint and environmental impact of their products.
Knowing that its customers are actively trying to find ways to lighten their imprint on the planet, Quorn recently announced they would be listing the carbon footprint of 60% of its range on its packaging, in a scheme certified by the Carbon Trust. Meanwhile, reducing the use of plastic has been a major focus for many food and drink manufacturers in response to what has been deemed the “blue planet effect” – following the BBC documentary series.
However, recent results from a parliamentary enquiry have shown that plastic alternatives could in fact be more damaging to the environment. Supermarkets are selling more drinks in coated cartons under the assumption that they can be recycled when, as the Green Alliance points out, the UK only has the facilities to recycle a third of the coated containers in circulation.
Consumer awareness doesn’t always equate to consumer knowledge, either. The enquiry also revealed that more than 80% of consumers think biodegradable or compostable plastic is environmentally friendly but have little understanding of what the terms mean and how the material should be dealt with. In fact, many biodegradable or compostable plastics can only be composted in an industrial composter, not in home or local composting.
So, what is the solution? How do manufacturers reduce their carbon footprint, protect the environment and appeal to an increasingly aware consumer, all while balancing profitability and business growth? Through innovation.
There is room for food and drink manufacturers to get creative with their answers to the problem and in the process they may find that, while it’s not always easy being green, it could bring them a whole new customer group.