A PROJECT which aims to standardise how the food and drink sector measures its environmental impact – and this prevent corporate 'greenwashing' – has been launched by the UK Government's Environment Agency.

The aim is to make it simpler for the public to understand the environmental performance of companies in key areas such as greenhouse gas reduction and resource efficiency.

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Project lead Becca Tremain, of the Environment Agency, said: “One of the big challenges for food businesses trying to mitigate climate change is how to communicate their environmental performance that goes beyond legal compliance effectively and efficiently.

"Different food businesses have developed and adopted various environmental metrics and it can be time-consuming for food businesses to collect data from different supplier systems," she noted. “This project seeks to address this challenge by standardising environmental metrics for food businesses that go beyond legal compliance.

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“It aims to provide an effective and efficient solution to enable the automation of environmental performance data transfer across different food businesses.”

The EA is working in partnership with the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Waste and Resources Action Programme and the British Standards Institute. The project has been made possible by a £195,000 grant from the £3.7 million Regulators' Pioneer Fund launched by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The partnership will be working with the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), trade associations and private sector organisations including Sainsbury’s, Nestle, Cranswick, 2 Sisters and Vitacress to understand and ensure the feasibility of the metrics.

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Business Minister Lord Callanan concluded: “Good regulation should spur entrepreneurship, not stand in its way, and this project will help keep the UK at the cutting-edge of innovation.

“This project aiming to standardise environmental metrics for the food and drink sector could pave the way for exciting developments in the sector, bringing benefits to British businesses and consumers alike.”