Sustainability: It’s up to us now

Companies that work within the food and grocery supply chain face some pressing issues on sustainability.

These have been well documented, from securing future energy supply, land quality and availability, water quality and quantity, whilst improving biodiversity.

They require a whole range of solutions.

One part of the picture needs to be consumer-led demand for a more sustainable future.

However, as we know all too well, currently few consumers are actively engaged in being part of the solution. This is partly due to an understandably limited knowledge of the issues, as well as the challenge appearing so big, and the limited number of products and services that can definitively help them become part of the solution. Hopefully this will improve over time.

Governments are another potential source to create the change required. There have been some very successful initiatives that have come about from government or multi-government intervention. Examples from the UK are the UK Landfill Tax and Montreal Protocol.

However, with recent economic concerns, the majority of governments are prioritising reviving short-term GDP, rather than addressing the long-term challenges stated above.

So the onus remains on industry to do the heavy lifting, think creatively and come up with a stream of new ideas.

Over the last few years, there have been some superb solutions that companies have introduced within their supply chains, in their own operations and with consumers.

Here are a few that have caught my eye as potential ‘game changers’ that could lead us all on a path to a more sustainable future:

  • Unilever, Project Sunshine: A movement consisting of a growing community of people who believe it is possible to build a world where everyone lives well and lives sustainably
  • Coca-Cola, Happiness Arcade:  Making recycling Coca-Cola bottles fun
  • Honest By, 100% Transparent: The company is unique in communicating all the details about the supply chain of its products and pricing.

But a lot of great work does not receive the limelight that it deserves. So if you work for a food and grocery company or have heard of interesting examples from other sectors that the industry can learn from, do share them with us by adding your comments below to this blog.

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Toby Pickard

Toby Pickard

Toby Pickard is senior sustainability analyst at the food and consumer goods research organisation IGD. He is IGD’s specialist on developments in sustainability and sustainable strategies in the industry. He manages IGD’s on-line sustainability information service, which helps food and grocery companies understand and meet the challenges posed by the evolving sustainability agenda. He also helps to manage IGD’s Industry Sustainability Group and delivers bespoke projects and workshops on sustainability for IGD’s clients.
Toby Pickard

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