Energy effieciency in manufacturing is important for overall sustainability of society. This paper combines three observations to improve an overlooked part of the energy efficiency support infrastructure in food and drink manufacturing: innovation capability. First, variations in machine and process design produce significant differences in energy efficiency; second, these differences are not widely known or valued because comparable machine energy data are not gathered for the vast majority of products, so machine and process design is under-used as a route to efficiency improvement; third, peer benchmarking has proved ot be an effective tool for stimulating change in other contexts, but has not been used at machine level in manufacturing. This paper describes and makes the case for a self-sustaining system in which machines would be validly compared on energy consumption and peer benchmarking would stimulate innovation in machine and process design for food manufacturing. The system, to be tested in a feasbility study, would benefit both food manufacturers and stakeholders. It would avoid dependence on public funding and enable stakeholders to provide value from the data. The paper contains the academic underpinning for the system and sets out an effective means of using it to achieve practical change.
The food processing and manufacturing industry is the UK's largest manufacturing sector and consequently a large consumer of natural resources and source of environmental impacts. Considerable research effort has been made to quanitfy and characterise food waste and energy consumption from the industry, enabling the sector to set targets for reductions which contribute to national targets and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, and to identify improvement measures to meet the targets. A gap in this research is a detailed estimation of the energy consumption which could automatically be avoided through preventing food waste in food manufacturing. This paper reports research which estimates the energy embodied in preventable manufacturing food waste in the UK using available data for 2014. Whilst the estimate of 106 GW h per year is a tiny proportion of the industry's annual energy consumption, it is 1.75 percentage points of the main 20% energy efficiency improvement target and over half the contribution expected from energy management measures to improve energy efficiency. Preventing food waste in the factory could therefore also contribute significantly to energy efficiency and climate change targets with no extra effort.