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The Energy Intensive Food & Beverage Industry, & How it Can Grow Sustainably

Updated: 2 days ago

The F&B sector is hugely diverse and spans across a multitude of businesses, including growers, operators, manufacturers and retailers who are all involved in the production & distribution of food and drink products - from farm to kitchen table:

  • Agriculture

  • Food processing

  • Cold Storage

  • Transport

  • Logistics

  • Grocery

The sector also encompasses a broad spectrum of business types - from arable farms to biscuit manufacturers to breweries, and is the largest industrial manufacturing sector within many of the world’s developed countries, with a total valuation of 10% of the global economy.

But the food supply chain is being faced with a huge challenge around how the sector can meet the food and drink needs of a staggering 10 billion in global population by the end of this century, when food production is so closely bounded to high energy consumption, and therefore unsustainable in the long term.

Energy stats

Food production is responsible for 30% of global energy consumption and over 33% of greenhouse gas emissions. What’s more, for the food supply chain to successfully meet the needs of the global population in 2030, the sector will need to consume 45% more energy than it did in 2021, with food waste adding an additional 8-10% in greenhouse gas emissions on top of this.

In attempts to buffer increasing demands, the sector is already investing in more sustainable technologies to tackle the emissive side of the industry - such as vertical farming and automation - however many of these advanced technologies still have a very high rate of energy consumption.

Wising up to the energy crises with process optimisation

1. Energy Efficient Technologies. Many new entrants to the sector are adopting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which sanction for lower energy consumption as well as reduced greenhouse gas emissions. There is also a fiscal incentive, due to the rising cost of energy encouraging F&B businesses to invest in more energy efficient technologies such as novel thermodynamic cycles and non-thermal and novel heating processes, and food processing businesses are looking to other manufacturing industries to adopt and transfer new processes that are working for them. On average, payback times for investing in new technologies have reduced from 8 to 3 years - largely due to the current escalation in energy prices.

2. Energy Demand Flexibility. Many businesses, particularly large scale manufacturers, are also formulating and deploying strategies centred around energy demand flexibility and are participating in Demand Side Response programmes, which involve turning off or turning down equipment for a few moments each year to reduce the external load on the electricity grid at peak times. This not only reduces energy consumption, and therefore the strain on the grid, but also allows businesses to earn supplementary payments depending on the MW capacity that has been freed up - for example, qualifying businesses can earn upto £30,000 per MW per year over four years.

How BIO-CIRCLE fits in

  1. Energy Efficient Technologies - the cleaners. Our low-temperature cleaners save energy whilst powerfully removing heavy soiling even at room temperature. They have been developed for mechanical machine use in BIO-CIRCLE parts washers and for manual use too. BIO-CIRCLE cleaners are extremely flexible and can be used for many different cleaning applications at low temperature ranges. Many of our customers have seen a hugely reduced cleaning process - in terms of the time spent (much less on preparing surfaces for cleaning), the labour involved, the resources used and the energy consumed. Along with energy efficiency, our cleaners are formulated from renewable raw materials and are VOC-free or VOC-reduced meaning their emission profile is extremely low. The majority of our cleaners are NSF approved and unlabelled, meaning they have been approved and deemed suitable for use in the food industry by the National Sanitation Foundation (an approved international standard of accreditation), and they do not required specialist handling.

  2. Energy Efficient Technologies - the cleaning systems. Our clever cleaning systems use filters and circulation systems. The cleaning media cleans itself via bioremediation and can be used can be reused for longer, which means less waste is produced. In turn, the waste generated is non-hazardous, so that the energy consumed in relation to the storing, transporting and disposing of the waste is significantly reduced. Our parts washers can also measure the volume of parts to be cleaned so that water consumption and the risk of drying on the parts is reduced.

  3. Supports Demand Side Response Programmes. Through using our efficient low-temperature cleaners in combination with our clever cleaning systems, our technologies support the ethos of DSR programmes - parts cleaning machinery can be curtailed to reduce external load. Effectively, implementing our systems will optimise your surface preparation and surface technology processes in terms of the energy used, the raw materials used and the emissions generated. On the energy side, using cleaners at reduced temperatures whilst still achieving the same cleaning result can contribute hugely to a DSR strategy over the course of a year.

Ready to optimise your processes? Contact us to book your free site survey and process optimisation plan.


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