Food and beverages are some of the most affluent sectors in many economies. Food and drinks are a fundamental and essential need in the daily life of all people, and people have the right to get hygienic, healthy, high-quality food that will improve their standard of living. However, with millions of tons of different food products produced each day, it cannot be denied that the food processing industry triggers great environmental impacts due to its production, distribution, and consumption processes.  This is why a common objective of every food or drink manufacturer is to implement the ISO 14001 environmental management system to reduce environmental implications and ensure long-term sustainability.

The key motive of having a robust, effective environmental management framework is to:

  • Help food manufacturers have a structured approach to identify their environmental challenges and adopt best practices to resolve them,
  • Help manufacturers exhibit their environmental responsibility to the world,
  • Help find opportunities to contribute towards sustainability along the lifecycle of the products with strategies.

There are many reasons for businesses in the food and beverage sector to achieve ISO 14001 certification for environmental management. The requirements of the certification require the implementation of a comprehensive environmental management system (EMS) that will manage food processing, packaging, distribution, life-cycle monitoring, and customer feedback.  To get your food processing unit certified with the environmental management standard, here are certain measures to adopt.

Sustainable Production Practices

Sustainable practices are among a key way to ensure that a food processing firm leaves the least impact on the environment and natural resources. Innovation promotes sustainable practices to bring resource efficiency and combat the harmful impacts of food production on the environment. Thus, a food manufacturing firm needs to invest in research and development (R&D) projects, appoint food and environmental experts, and seek stakeholder support for investments in R&D. The evolution of new practices and technologies due to R&D efforts for any stage in the food production cycle will offer significant improvements on the environmental front. Some of them are renewable energy use, reduction in greenhouse emissions, efficient water use, recycling of wastes, and so on.

Creating Consumption Awareness

Consumers in the food industry are a part of the supply chain and they influence it through their purchasing decisions. The way they transport, store, or consume food or drinks and dispose of their food wastes generates direct impacts on the environment. Therefore, sharing reliable information regarding food sustainability is an effective tool to improve their purchasing choices and consumption behavior.

Resource Efficiency

The most important condition for getting ISO 14001 environmental management certification is higher resource efficiency. Raw-materials or elements used in the manufacturing of food or drinks are mostly of farming or agricultural origin. Food and drink manufacturers need to find new ways to optimize the use of those raw-materials and act as bio-refineries. In that way, they can use the raw agricultural products to produce the end food product/drink but also certain byproducts, such as organic feed, bio-fuel, fertilizers, or even cosmetics.

Waste Management

The use of more agricultural raw-materials in the food industry raises the aspect of resource efficiency and the need for proper waste management. Fuller or maximum utilization of raw-materials is necessary to reduce the amount of generated bio-degradable wastes. Some of the wastes can be treated and transitioned into renewable energy resources. For wastes that are non-treatable, manufacturers need to promote recycling practices and waste recovery to reduce the volume of wastes finally going to disposal. 

Packaging Efficiency

Packaging is an inevitable part of the food and drinks processing industry. The materials used for packaging are usually non-biodegradable, therefore, they have long term environmental impacts. However, packaging materials cannot be compromised because they ensure the safety, quality, and hygiene of the food products. So, effective ways to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging is to avoid the use of any unnecessary packaging materials and adopt practices for recycling and reusing the materials. These will help to reduce the amount of packaging wastes released into the environment.

ISO 14001 environmental management certification is a significant tool for food and beverage producers to help them minimize their environmental impacts and secure resources sustainability. Being one of the most crowded and competitive sectors in the world, it is important for the food businesses to contribute to reducing harmful impacts on the environment. Achieving ISO 14001 certification will persuade them to implement a concrete EMS, consecutively helping them take care of many environmental aspects.

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Business Name: Compliancehelp Consulting, LLC
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Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is a senior ISO 14001 environmental management consultant who offers advice and training to businesses in different sectors with ISO 14001 certification. He writes blogs about the guidelines of ISO 14001 certification to help businesses be prepared for the certification process.