Sustain programme offers 10 quick wins to save energy

Sustain Lincolnshire, a programme led by Lincolnshire County Council, which aims to help local businesses become more competitive and reduce their carbon footprints, has developed a 10 Quick Wins plan for food and drink manufacturers looking to cut back on energy usage.

The suggestions highlight areas where improvements could be possible with relatively little effort and quick pay back times, said Sustain energy consultant Sam Jones.

These actions would represent the first steps in reducing environmental impact and further improvement will be possible through the development and implementation of a more comprehensive environmental management plan, he said.

1. Reduce electricity consumption. Improving energy monitoring is the key to managing energy consumption. If you are on a maximum demand electricity tariff you should be able to obtain half-hour data from your supplier. Calculating your usage during non-operational hours will help identify waste – what’s being left on unnecessarily?

The Carbon Trust helps provide guidance on improving energy monitoring and management.

2. Compressed air is an expensive commodity and air compressors are only about 10% efficient. Inspect systems regularly for leaks. A drop of one bar (psi) can result in a six per cent reduction in electricity consumption. Find out how to test for leaks:

3. Refrigeration is a major expense. Studies have shown there are between 15%-20% efficiency savings to be made. The first step is to minimise the heat load by allowing products to cool before they are refrigerated. Check out this guide:

4. Segregate waste to save money. Cross contamination of waste streams can lead to higher disposal costs – especially in the case of hazardous waste which carries a premium. Separate waste at source – train staff and colour code bins if it’s helpful. Negotiate waste contracts carefully to minimise costs and maximise recycling.

5. Design packaging for efficiency. Waste can be reduced through clever design while retaining the integrity of the product. Think about efficient distribution when designing packaging too. And avoid systems that require heat shrinking.

The Guide to Evolving Packaging Design published by WRAP is available online:

Also see Reduce Your Environmental Impact by Good Packaging Design:

6. Reduce water use. Where possible water used in the manufacturing process should be re-used – in other processes, if not the same one.

7. Adjust flow rates of water to suit production using a gate valve or flow restrictor.

Read Water Minimisation in the Food and Drink Industry and a case study document:

8. Work with your supply chain.  A collaborative approach can make it easier to improve efficiency and reduce waste. Work with suppliers and customers. Can packaging be re-used and backloaded onto delivery vehicles? Can products be pre-prepared? There are potential money savings and efficiencies across the entire chain.

9. Purchase powders in pellet form or big bags which create less residue.

10. Improve reporting and raise awareness. Report waste as a percentage of production to focus minds on its importance. Targets to reduce waste can then be set.