Reducing Waste in Food Manufacturing

Reducing Waste in Food Manufacturing

Let’s explore reducing waste in food manufacturing — how can it be done, what are the benefits and how can Axil-IS help?

Over the past few years, companies have grown more and more concerned about reducing waste, with our waste supply chain management services growing in demand. 

While a large driving force might be a genuine concern about our combined impact on the environment and the desire to reduce contributions to landfill, we can’t deny the business benefits of lowering business waste. By reducing waste and streamlining processes and supply chains, businesses stand to increase profit significantly. What’s more, companies that show an increasing social conscience are attracting the best and brightest — job seekers are actively looking for companies who put sustainability into practice. And, of course, a growing number of consumers are looking to support conscientious, sustainable businesses.

We’ve helped a lot of food manufacturing businesses, including Cranswick and Birds Eye to reduce waste and improve efficiency. When it comes to reducing waste, our recommendations and best practice will vary slightly depending on the sector. 

Food Waste Innovations

We work with Birds Eye at their Lowestoft site to deliver robust and sustainable cost savings, whilst improving their CSR performance. To date we have achieved some impressive results including:

  • £24,000 savings in transport costs were achieved over two years, following the introduction of a new cardboard compactor on-site. 
  • 90% reduction in manual handling from 30 tonnes of cardboard per month using forklift attachments
  • £50,000 rebate value returned to the client, from cooking oil as well as increased cardboard baling and recycling.

As a food and beverage producer, you can arrange a review of your Food waste please contact us here.

Below, we will look at reducing waste in food manufacturing — how it can be done and what we recommend based on our years of experience.

Incorporate a Tracking System

When it comes to reducing food waste — and reducing waste in general — the best way forward is to focus on data. Using a tracking system like an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system allows food manufacturers to track information relating to shipping, packaging and production. Pulling all this data into a single location allows you to easily and efficiently identify areas of inefficiency and waste. Ultimately, this allows food manufacturers to streamline processes and save money while reducing waste.

Compost Green Waste

Reducing waste in food manufacturing should include composting. Businesses should be collecting green waste for composting off-site, rather than sending it to a landfill, where it won’t have the appropriate conditions to break down. Incredibly, food waste is one of the largest contributors to landfills — and it’s something food manufacturers can address immediately with minimal effort.

Natures Way Foods (NWF) prioritised composting when they attempted to reduce waste in their business. The act of composting, along with their other measures, allowed them to make savings of more than £65,000 a year.

Address Machinery Performance Problems

While reducing waste in food production or in general manufacturing, one area of concern is that of machinery performance. When machines run smoothly and do what they’re supposed to, businesses operate at maximum efficiency. But when they aren’t serviced as often as they should be, problems arise. These problems are more than just mild inconveniences — they can cost companies money while increasing waste. 

According to Wrap, issues such as product blockages and mechanical mishandling are among the top causes of waste in the processed food sector.

Look into Quality Production Issues

Quality control is another huge area of concern for food manufacturers. When food is under or overcooked, it needs to be disposed of — ultimately (and needlessly) — increasing the amount of waste created.

Understandably, there will always be some human error to account for, and not all products will turn out perfectly. However, there are ways to improve quality control in food manufacturing. Polishing up your processes regularly will ensure you keep your waste to a minimum while maximising your profit.

Return Unused Packaging to Suppliers

Rather than simply disposing of unused packaging, such as reusable plastic crates or reusable tote boxes, consider returning these packages to suppliers. 

Not only will you be reducing your waste, but your suppliers will also be pleased to get their packaging back so they can minimise costs. They might even come to an agreement where they can offer a discount for returning packaging.

Invest in Good Packaging 

A great way of reducing waste is by investing in good packaging. Incredibly, UK households waste in the region of 4.5 million tonnes of food each year. Food manufacturers can do their part by investing in decent packaging that will help food last. Thankfully, food packaging technology is evolving and getting better by the day. On top of this, you can make sure you are clear on your packaging about “best before” dates and instructions on how to store the food to avoid spoiling.

Using alternative raw materials at the Food production stage can deliver valuable and easy to capture waste material at the end of production. Although it can be hard to transition away from composite materials like laminates and commingled plastics, alternative options are out there.

A great example is ready-meal trays — these are usually made of thermoplastic with a clear polymer cover. It’s difficult to find recycling routes for either, as the plastic used is of low quality and different grades. Moving to a more modestly priced suite of polymers can deliver the same quality and durability required, but lead to a more recyclable post-use product. This simple switch improves the product’s entire lifecycle for little to no additional cost. 

Procurement teams working with both engineering and waste in mind can achieve a significant improvement in material wastage. If waste is produced, it is of higher quality and can be sold to achieve rebates — not simply sent to landfills or energy recovery facilities. 

Increase Staff Awareness and Involvement

As with many areas of business, staff awareness, education and involvement play a huge role in minimising waste in food manufacturing. You need to make sure your employees are invested and committed to reducing waste, too, while building it into your company culture and values.

Employees should be educated about the environmental impact of waste disposal, harmful landfill gas and how chemicals can contaminate soil and waterways. Once they are armed with all this information, they will be more inclined to help.

Companies need to take the lead if they want employees to buy into waste reduction efforts. Consider including waste management issues and solutions in your employee onboarding process while providing ongoing, appropriate training. You should also make it clear what efforts your organisation is taking to reduce waste, and why it’s important to your company.

Encourage your employees to speak up if they think of a way for you to reduce waste in your company and remember to recognise and reward innovative ideas in this area. It’ll soon become an ingrained value and habit within your organisation.

Employ Total Waste Management Services

Managing waste can be a full-time job. There is a lot to consider, and most businesses are so busy with the day-to-day running of their companies that this area doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. 

It is understandable, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely excusable. If waste management and reduction is a focus for you, then you should consider employing total waste management services. Axil-IS can help you to remove unnecessary costs, reduce your impact on the environment, ensure compliance with health and safety best practices while reducing overall waste. By taking waste reduction off your plate, you can concentrate on the bottom line and grow your business.

Challenge Axil to reengineer your waste to drive out costs and reduce your impact on the environment – request a callback to arrange a free waste management review today.

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To gain a clearer understanding of your waste operations, we will visit to carry out a detailed site audit.

Our waste management experts will understand your waste streams and the challenges you face— and develop a service proposal tailored to accommodate your needs.

We will explain how our innovative solutions can re-engineer your waste to reduce your costs and increase your recycling.