CO2 emissions

Reducing CO2 emissions remains the cornerstone of our industry's efforts to increase the sustainability of food and drink manufacturing and contribute to the growth of a greener economy in the UK.

In 2012 FDF members achieved a reduction in CO2 emissions from their manufacturing operations of 32% compared to the 1990 baseline. This builds on last year's achievement of a 27% reduction. This latest result keeps us firmly on track towards meeting our 2020 ambition of a 35% reduction.

Since the 2008 launch of the of the FDF Fivefold Ambition, absolute emissions have fallen by 527,000 tonnes of CO2 - equivalent to the emissions arising from around 165,000 average homes in the UK.

The main focus of activity in 2012 has been the setting up of the new Climate Change Agreement (CCA). Participants in the FDF CCA are now working towards a new challenging target of an 18% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020 against a 2008 baseline. If achieved, this improvement in energy efficiency will make a significant contribution towards the wider Five-fold 2020 CO2 emissions reduction target.

In March 2013 the Department of Energy and Climate Change published its strategy on the Future of Heating. As part of this programme, FDF will be working closely with DECC on the development of 2050 low carbon roadmap for the UK food and drink manufacturing sector. FDF very much welcomes this initiative which will form the framework for setting emissions reductions goals beyond our current time horizon of 2020.

CO2 emissions reduction
*About half of the decline since 2011 is due to changes in how CCA emissions are reported. The 1990 baseline has not been changed.

Case Studies: CO2 emissions


UnileverUnilever's ambition is to halve the greenhouse gas impact of its products across the lifecycle by 2020.

Through a combination of good manufacturing practice and capital investment, Unilever continues to reduce its carbon emissions.

Unilever is reducing carbon emissions – and water use – through metering, monitoring and targeting. At Port Sunlight, it has installed meters that track data to help understand usage. This informs decision-making processes to implement solutions for more efficient operations. The industry standard for carbon savings achieved through such meters is 10–20%.

During 2012, Unilever's Burton site reduced greenhouse gases by optimising biogas production from its anaerobic digester. This biogas is used in boilers to generate steam for use across the site. In 2012, 12% of all gas used was biogas produced on-site, an increase from 2% in 2011. This helped to reduce carbon emissions by over 300 tonnes year on year.

Three of Unilever's UK manufacturing sites have installed more efficient energy generation technology, introducing Combined Heat and Power engines. Furthermore, any additional electricity purchased is now sourced from renewables.

Premier Foods

Premier FoodsPremier Foods is moving towards a low-carbon and resource-efficient operation. This includes using water intelligently and looking at ways to reduce waste and packaging – without compromising product safety, quality and taste.

Between 2008 and 2012 Premier Foods almost halved its carbon emissions, achieving a 48% reduction. At its Carlton site, the company has retro-fitted a Flue-Ace system to its boilers. This captures waste heat from exhaust gases and uses this to heat other areas of the site.

Last year, its Rank Hovis Mill in Manchester installed a voltage optimisation system to four of its transformers. This initiative alone has delivered an 8% reduction in energy consumption. With the site using 24 million kWh of electricity per annum, this represents a significant reduction in carbon emissions of 1,264 tonnes per annum.


In this report

Last reviewed: 16 Dec 2013