► Sustainability
 

We strive for continual improvement when it comes to our environmental performance and we encourage all colleagues to play their part in driving improvements across our operations. Our internal Green Matters environmental campaign, supported by 65 Environmental Champions, enables us to deliver our business commitments and objectives.

Our ESG strategy identifies which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) we can have an impact on:
 


Alignment to UN SDGs
 

We are signatories and active members of the FDF 2025 Ambition, the Courtauld 2025 Commitment, Champions 12.3 and WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact. Through our industry commitments, which go beyond legislation, we strive to limit our impact on the planet by reducing our CO2 emissions and water usage, by tackling food waste in our operations and by fostering a circular economy for plastic packaging. We partner with community groups and NGOs, such as The Westcountry Rivers Trust, Company Shop Group and FareShare UK, to deliver a programme of forward-thinking initiatives that deliver meaningful results. With unprecedented levels of production in the last year, we continued to improve our environmental performance across several key metrics.

Our KPIs

Climate action
  • Achieve a 55% absolute reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025 against a 1990 baseline.
  • Contribute to an industry-wide target to reduce water use by 25% by 2020 compared to 2007.
  • Maintain sending zero waste to landfill and monitor, report and reduce our food waste as part of our commitment to Courtauld 2025.
  • Increase food waste redistribution to over 750 tonnes per annum by 2020.
Packaging

Building on our UK Plastics Pact commitments, we aim to embed environmentally sustainable packaging across our portfolio, engage with our supply chain to explore more sustainable solutions for our packaging innovation and educate consumers and customers by providing clarity on disposal options to foster a circular economy for plastics:

  • 100% of our plastic packaging to be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 and continue eliminating problematic plastic.
  • Increase the use of recycled plastic content and help create a market-pull for recycled polymers.
  • Clearly and transparently label our products, in compliance with OPRL (On Pack Recycling Labelling) guidelines.
 

Climate Action

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Energy efficiency and CO2 emissions

To achieve greater sustainability, we seek to reduce and mitigate our environmental footprint throughout our operations, and this year we are proud to have further reduced our energy consumption across our sites by 18.8% to 677.5 kWh per tonne of product, down from 832 kWh the year before. All of our manufacturing sites are accredited to ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems, except Knighton Foods which is working towards the accreditation for next year. We have continued to reduce our CO2 emissions, which this year decreased by a further 5.8%. This equates to a collective 42.7% reduction against our baseline figure of 103,102 tonnes of CO2 (taken as year ended 31 December 2008, when we first started to collect emissions data on a like-for-like basis, and adjusted for site disposals). Furthermore, we have ensured that all our sites (but Knighton Foods) are powered by green energy and have purchased Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificates to provide us with the transparency and certainty of the origin of the electricity supply reaching our sites. This means that our CO2 emissions have in effect decreased by 61.5% against our 2008 baseline, surpassing our 55% absolute reduction by 2025 target four years early! (see our GHG disclosure on page 85).

Water stress and biodiversity

Having exceeded the 25% industry-wide water reduction target in 2020, we continue to work towards further reductions across our operations and have now achieved an impressive 59% reduction compared to our 2007 baseline.

Alongside this, we actively support the Courtauld 2025 Water Ambition and continue to play our part to improve the quality and availability of water in key areas of the UK where our ingredients are sourced. We work in partnership with the Tamar Water Stewardship Business Board, joining forces with other local organisations and The Westcountry Rivers Trust, to address the issue of water stress and the associated risks of water scarcity, flooding and water pollution in the River Tamar catchment area in Devon, where our Ambrosia Creamery is located. This collaborative project was recognised by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), the largest professional body for environmental practitioners, and shortlisted in the ‘Consultancy and Collaboration’ and ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’ categories of the 2020 IEMA Sustainability Impact Awards.


 

Packaging

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Our products are packaged in a way that balances the need to ensure food safety, preserve freshness and taste, prevent food waste, provide convenience, and share important information with consumers. We continue to work hard to optimise our packaging and to reduce its environmental impact; using materials from certified sustainable sources wherever possible, increasing our use of recycled materials, and increasing the recyclability of our packaging. The chart below illustrates the split in our use of packaging materials by volume weight and their respective recyclability rates. All the corrugated paper or carton board we use within our packaging is from Forestry Stewardship Council (‘FSC’) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) certified sources and is fully recyclable. In total, 94% of our packaging, by weight, is recyclable (both widely recycled and check locally) using OPRL guidelines.


 
 
 

Plastics

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Our packaging portfolio is made up of a variety of materials like glass, cardboard and plastic to ensure that our products are kept fresh and arrive safely with consumers. Plastic currently represents just 12% of our packaging portfolio by weight. We support a vision for a circular plastics economy, where plastic is valued and kept in the economy, but out of the environment. As such, we are a founding member of the UK Plastics Pact and are working with industry, retailers, packaging suppliers, NGOs, Government, local authorities, and waste management organisations to help transform the UK plastics packaging sector by 2025. This collaboration is key to create much-needed alignment across the value chain, and in turn ensure that any change we make to our packaging will be sustainable.

As we progress on our journey to 100% recyclability, we have many projects looking at removing materials which are hard to recycle, such as black plastics, or materials which are not yet accepted by local authorities for recycling. We’re making good progress and have this year achieved 70% recyclability for our plastics packaging, up from 63% last year and 48% the previous year (based on sales data, figures adjusted to reflect the new OPRL scheme). We have for instance successfully removed 400 tonnes of problematic plastics by switching our Bisto Best caps and Soba pot noodles to a detectible plastic, which means they can now be collected, sorted and recycled by most local authorities in the UK. We have also eliminated PVC from our portfolio. For the most challenging materials, such as polystyrene or films and flexibles, we continue engaging with our partners and suppliers to find the right technical solutions which will balance the need to ensure food safety, preserve freshness and taste, prevent food waste, as well as be accepted by the existing UK recycling infrastructure.

We also recognise that key to a circular economy is creating a market for more recycled content and helping consumers to physically recycle material which is recyclable. Overall, 18% of our plastic packaging across our portfolio now has recycled content to help create a marketpull for recycled polymers, whilst remaining in compliance with food safety standards. 100% of our UK packaging is compliant with OPRL guidelines to ensure that our consumers can easily understand how to dispose of our packaging, with 46% currently carrying the updated, simplified guidelines of ‘Recycle’ and ‘Don’t Recycle’.

Our flat pack slices, a true example of a circular economy for Plastics

As we work towards our UK Plastics Pact targets, we aim to simultaneously increase recyclability and recycled polymer content in our packaging to foster a circular economy for plastics. This year, we have moved our Mr Kipling, Cadbury and Plantastics flat pack slices from non-recyclable plastic (HIPS) to a recyclable plastic (RPET) which represents 250 tonnes of plastics. At the same time, we ensured that the new material was made of recycled polymer, with a minimum of 50% recycled content. Our flat pack slices are a real example of a circular economy – containing both recycled and recyclable plastics!

Food waste

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The UN has a number of sustainability goals (SDGs) and SDG 12 seeks to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” The third target under this goal (Target 12.3) calls for cutting in half per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains (including postharvest losses) by 2030. In our commitment to support this, we have signed up to WRAP and IGD’s initiative Target, Measure, Act. We share the ambition to halve food waste globally by 2030 and are a member of Champions 12.3, a coalition of executives from governments, businesses, international organisations, research institutions, farmer groups, and civil society dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilising action, and accelerating progress toward achieving SDG Target 12.3 by 2030. At Premier Foods, we are working to monitor, report and reduce our food surplus in line with this and are proud of our record of sending 0% to landfill since 2013 and are working to move our waste up the food waste hierarchy.

In the 2020 calendar year, we produced nearly 400,000 tonnes of food, an increase of around 63,000 tonnes compared with 2019 on account of unprecedented levels of consumer demand during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our food waste for 2020 was 7,778 tonnes, equating to 1.99% of the total food we produced, an 11.2% reduction from last year. We continued in our efforts to redistribute our surplus stock back up the human food chain, and by strengthening our partnerships with Company Shop Group and FareShare UK to support their mission of tackling food waste and food poverty, we redistributed 1,380 tonnes of products. This is three times more than the previous year, far exceeding our 750 tonnes redistribution target. We have also been actively involved in shaping the behaviours needed to tackle food waste across the supply chain.

 

Firstly, we became part of the first cohort of the Luminary Programme established by Company Shop Group. Our Group Environmental Manager has volunteered to become one of the mentors to this DEFRA-funded programme which combines a mixture of toolkits, activities and support to equip participants with the skills, network and confidence they need to be the driving force for change within their own organisation and throughout the supply chain.

Secondly, we were delighted to become a strategic partner of WRAP’s first ever Food Waste Action Week, aimed at raising awareness of the contribution of food waste within homes to climate change. With 70% of food waste happening at home, we used the power of our brands to help consumers reduce food waste and shared a range of easy ‘no brainer’ leftover recipes using products from our wide portfolio. Our regulatory teams also worked collaboratively with WRAP to develop guidance for other businesses on redistributing surplus stock past their Best Before Dates.

Furthermore, last March, we decided to increase our support to FareShare in order to reach more communities throughout the country, via their network of 25 depots liaising with over 12,000 charities (including food banks and community centres). Since then, we have redistributed more than 240 tonnes of products, which make up the equivalent of more than 550,000 meals. As part of our support to Food Waste Action Week in March, we also encouraged our manufacturing sites colleagues to donate products to support FareShare. In just a few days, our colleagues managed to collect 26 pallets of food (over 10 tonnes) and donated a mix of ambient surplus products and products that our colleagues had provided from their own cupboards.
 

 

 

Our case studies

 

Removing black plastic

... across Mr Kipling & Cadbury

As a founder member of the UK Plastics Pact, we’re taking important action to achieve 100% recyclability of the plastics we use across our product packaging. Today, plastics make up just 12% of our packaging by weight, with 70% of that plastic recyclable and containing on average 11% of recycled material.

Black plastic has been identified as particularly problematic because, whilst technically recyclable, UK recycling centres do not currently have the optical sorting equipment needed to identify and recycle it. As a result, black plastic will often get sent to landfill or incineration.

To address this challenge, at the start of 2019 we took action to remove black plastic from our portfolio - first from our Mr Kipling Cakes, Pies, and Puddings and secondly from our Cadbury Cakes – switching instead to using a clear, recyclable plastic tray or pot. These contain a minimum of 50% recycled content, an important attribute given our ambition to support a circular plastics economy.

This project has resulted in the removal of 500 tonnes non-recyclable black plastic from the UK market annually.

Combatting water stress

Our tree planting programme

As a signatory of Courtauld 2025, we are committed to supporting its Water Ambition and playing our part to improve the quality and availability of water in key areas of the UK where ingredients are sourced to produce food and drink.

In 2017 we joined the Tamar Water Stewardship Business Board, joining forces with other local organisations, along with The Westcountry Rivers Trust, to address the issue of water stress and the associated risks of water scarcity, flooding and water pollution in the River Tamar catchment area in Devon, where our Ambrosia Creamery is located. After investigation, the Board concluded that by strategically planting woodland trees, it would be possible to both reduce the risk of soil erosion and increase soil water retention.

Premier Foods was already planting trees across the UK in partnership with the Woodland Trust, and in four years had funded 29 acres of woodland planting from the money we had saved by reducing our energy usage across our sites. We therefore decided to build upon this partnership by planting trees in an area that would address a known water stress challenge and benefit both communities and businesses within the catchment. This has resulted in us funding the planting of 16,000 trees within the River Tamar catchment area in early 2020.

Hazel Kendall, Head of Land Management at Westcountry Rivers Trust attends the Business Board and has been working with Premier Foods and others to progress collaborative working in the Tamar, as part of the CPES (Channel Payments for Ecosystem Services) project to develop new partnerships in environmental project delivery: “The opportunity to link together local interests based on a collective desire to improve our environmental performance is a brilliant outcome for the Trust and this is just one example of what’s possible as a result. By undertaking a mapping exercise to identify key areas of opportunity and risk, the Business Board were able to identify how to optimize any activity to deliver multiple environmental benefits such as boosting Biodiversity levels and increasing Carbon uptake, as well as water protection. We hope that it sends a message to others that there are numerous ways to get involved and we look forward to the next steps.”

Reducing our food waste

Our partnership with Company Shop

In our commitment to support the UN Sustainability Development Goal 12.3 and its ambition to halve food waste globally by 2030, we are proud to partner with Company Shop to redistribute food waste back into the human food chain, to support those most in need within our communities. Company Shop take our edible but damaged and therefore unsaleable food and sell it to community members at a discounted price. Profits are used to help fund activities and workstations for the local community which take place at Community Shop centres and include, for example, cookery lessons, craft sessions, lunch clubs and CV writing workshops.

In 2019 we strengthened our partnership with Company Shop and met our target to double the number of our manufacturing sites partnered with them, from three to six. This resulted in us redistributing 441 tonnes of food waste via Company Shop in 2019, an uplift of 45% compared with the previous year. By sending food directly from our manufacturing sites to the nearest Company Shop, we’re also able to maximise product shelf life, reduce our road miles and therefore reduce C02 emissions.