8 environmentally friendly best practices for food and agricultural businesses

With global temperatures on the uptick and a climate crisis imminent, sustainable business practices are essential for organisations everywhere. Essentially, these practices are geared toward reducing the company’s environmental footprint by reducing carbon emissions.

This is particularly urgent for the food and agricultural industries, responsible for about 26% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. While the degree to which each company can commit to sustainability depends on factors like budget and leadership buy-in, here are some practices that companies of all sizes can adopt:

1.
Irrigation

With farmlands consuming about 70% of global freshwater resources, it is vital to adopt sustainable irrigation methods that reduce the burden on the already-depleted freshwater bodies while hydrating crops adequately. Techniques such as sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation or deficit irrigation could save up to 68 billion gallons of water. Is that not amazing? Wait, there is more. These methods also consume less energy than traditional irrigation methods, so adopting them could avoid CO2 emissions of up to 1.13 gigatons.

2.
Composting

One must effectively manage the decomposition of organic material to prevent methane emissions. While biodigesters can do this at scale, a more affordable solution is composting. Not only does this reduce waste removal costs, but it also generates an excellent fertiliser for areas with poor soil quality. Composting allows restaurants and catering businesses thus to grow their produce without too many overheads.

3.
Energy management

Restaurants use up to seven times more energy per square foot of property than any other business. Moreover, 80% of that usage goes to inefficient lighting, heating, and outdated kitchen appliances. Restaurants can save millions in energy costs and help the environment at the same time by upgrading to energy-efficient systems and appliances. Some governments may even offer rebates or tax relief for companies willing to do so.

4.
Food waste reduction

Wasted food contributes to 8% of anthropogenic emissions and squanders valuable labour and natural resources. Farmers can conduct market surveys before planning their crops and secure a buyer for each harvest to bring down food waste.

Restaurants can conduct similar surveys of demand patterns and make menu tweaks that customise portion sizes to what each customer actually wants.

In addition, proper food storage, handling and transportation methods will go a long way in avoiding spillage and perishing. Food waste has a renewable energy value, which means food industry practitioners across the UK do not need to pay to have their food waste taken away or sent to the landfill.

Waste2ES has built its service around giving that value back to the businesses that create food waste. Our onsite food waste technologies help them take control of their food waste sustainably and potentially generate renewable green energy.

The positive impact on the bottom line can, naturally, run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Contact us to know how our systems can help process food waste to your advantage.

5.
Water use management

Even though water covers 75% of the Earth’s surface, its conservation is of absolute importance! Similar to energy wastage, water wastage in restaurants happens because of the use of old appliances and an inefficient drainage system.

To counter this, the restaurant can upgrade to water-efficient appliances and toilets and make suitable modifications to their drainage system. Consulting a professional, who can help you put good water management practices in place, is a good idea in this regard.

5.
Biodegradable packaging

Traditional packaging is non-biodegradable for the most part and can be dangerous when not properly disposed of. In response, there is a burgeoning biodegradable packaging industry where food is packed in material that can be composted or recycled while ensuring food safety and adequate shelf life. Consumers are also starting to prefer food brands that prioritise sustainability so that biodegradable packaging can give brands a competitive advantage.

Food waste in the food-to-go sector: the change-makers and techniques

7.
Greening the supply chain

The food business can commit to sustainability by choosing suppliers and vendors who have demonstrated their sustainable practices.

Using biodegradable material, recycling waste, sourcing ingredients locally, investing in efficient storage and engaging in fair trade will also show customers that the brand truly cares about doing right by the environment.

This will boost the brand’s reputation and spur other brands to adopt similar practices, ultimately leading to a more sustainable supply chain overall.

8.
Agricultural nutrient management

Most of the time, fertilisers are applied to crops in greater quantities than required, leading to groundwater seepage and surface run-off into water bodies.

To preserve water quality and reduce nutrient wastage, farmers should be strategic about matching fertiliser application with actual crop needs, particularly when it comes to nitrogen-based fertilisers.

Fresh resource

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