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How To Reduce Food Manufacturing Waste

Last Updated: September 5th, 20233 min read
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Waste management is a subject of great interest with sustainability a growing consideration for legislators and the general public alike. Businesses across the UK and Ireland will be looking at ways to reduce manufacturing waste that is produced as a result of their operations.

Our article details the problem food manufacturers face with manufacturing waste and how they can reduce it.

Understanding the problem

Food waste has economic, environmental and social impacts; greenhouse gas emissions are produced when food is decomposing in landfill, as well as when it’s transported. These greenhouse gases have a global impact on temperature and weather systems, with the ‘greenhouse effect’ resulting in global warming.

It’s thought that food manufacturers account for 1.7 million tonnes of waste each year, a total that is costing the food manufacturing sector around £1.2 billion per year.

What causes food waste in manufacturing?

Food wastage from manufacturers can occur at any point during the food manufacturing process. For example, at pre-production, there could be inaccurate forecasting of raw materials which may not get used fully and leftovers go to waste.

9% of waste in the ready meals and chilled sector is caused by machine mishandling!

During production, waste can happen through spillage, spoilage, even plant shutdowns and washes. Ingredient waste can also occur during the food production process from peeling, washing, slicing and even boiling.

According to, 9% of waste in the ready meals and chilled products sector is caused by machine mishandling, and 3.5% of products are rejected for poor production such as under or over baking, or under or overweight.

Cancellation of orders, packaging, and end of sell-by-date products are also a cause of food waste.

How to reduce waste production

It’s not only important to reduce food waste for the good of the environment and economy, but waste can also have a huge impact on the bottom line for food manufacturers.

Here are a few tips which can help waste management;

  • Form good relationships with your supply chain – so you can return ingredients to them if they won’t be used (if your supplier agrees to do this)
  • Forecast for accuracy – order the right amount of raw materials for production so that left-over goods don’t go to waste
  • Increase re-work – re-use waste product where possible
  • Use cutoffs – to create a new product and maximise ingredients
  • Regularly check machines – walk the line regularly to ensure machinery is working properly

The tips above are just a few ways to reduce waste in the food processing industry, however, Stevens Traceability has a waste management system which is proven to reduce product giveaway, wastage and conform to traceability audits and average weight regulations.

By having full traceability of raw ingredients from goods in, throughout the production process and through to waste, the Stevens system provides reports so that you can improve performance, make production more efficient and reduce the costs of materials, labour, and energy.

What’s more, you can ensure collections of waste are scheduled in line with actual waste on-site, reducing unnecessary collections, further helping the environment and reducing waste collection costs.

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