Fact Sheet 1: Food Manufacturing Series

General Improvement

The pace of change in the food manufacturing sector is rapid and most companies operate on slim margins in highly competitive markets. Cleaner Production is an appealing objective for most companies since it addresses the growing importance of improving environmental performance as well as the continuous need to increase competitiveness.

Treating and disposing of waste once it has been generated is becoming a luxury most companies simply cannot afford. Therefore, the focus is shifting to options that reduce waste at source as these have the potential to integrate environmental, cost, quality and health and safety objectives.

The Food Manufacturing Cleaner Production Checklists are not intended to be exhaustive but as a starting point to spark ideas and interest within an organisation. Fact sheets are provided for several sub-sectors and a generic opportunity list is also provided. Use the general checklist below to identify opportunities and suggest ideas for Cleaner Production activities in many types of food and other organisation.

Opportunity Bank - General 

Process Stage



Inputs and Inventory Modify Inputs Work with suppliers to improve shelf-life, ingredient quality, reduce packaging and to develop innovative options for product delivery.
- - Work with farmers to grade produce more effectively so that trash and poor quality produce remains on-farm (i.e. minimise unnecessary transport, storage and disposal).
- - Enter joint purchasing arrangements with other companies to achieve economies of scale. Agree to standardise some materials (packaging, boxes, small parts etc.) between companies to expand joint purchasing opportunities.
- - Consider changes to all inputs to eliminate/reduce waste, make them more environmentally benign, or improve reuse/recycle/treatment options.
- Materials Accounting Integrate materials purchasing, handling, inventory and sales systems to enable accurate materials accounting.
- - Develop real-time resource tracking and monitoring systems that report on wastage and variances from established efficiency benchmarks and allow timely corrective action.
- Key Performance Indicators Develop key performance indicators (KPIs) for resource use, waste generation and other environmental factors (e.g. energy used per dollar of output, or kilograms of waste per kilogram of product etc.).
- Inventory Management Adopt an effective Just-In-Time and First In - First Out inventory program to minimise shelf life losses.
- - Improve storage and inventory management to reduce breakages or spoilage of raw material and product.
Ingredient Dispatch / Make-up Automatic Control Install automatic dispensing systems for small ingredient make-up to minimise the risk of batch errors and to better monitor resource use.
Product Preparation Process Control / Improvement Conduct periodic Cleaner Production, environmental or efficiency assessments (e.g. every one to three years) for energy, water, wastewater, materials etc..·
  • to measure the quantity and value of waste generated.·
  • to identify the major sources of process waste.·
  • to identify bottlenecks and other operational/procedural problems.·
  • to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Financial Planning Incorporate Cleaner Production and environmental management projects/considerations in the company’s long term planning process.
- Best Practice Keep up to date with technology developments to ensure the company is aware of best practice standards.
- - Benchmark internally and against other companies to identify opportunities for improvement.
- - Analyse the design and layout of plant and equipment to identify improvement opportunities (e.g. better workflow, cleaning/maintenance efficiency etc.).
- Wastewater Implement changes to help minimise liquid waste:·
  • install meters on high use equipment or specific work areas to monitor consumption.·
  • install in-line restrictors, automatic cut-off valves or timers.·
  • install trigger nozzles on the end of hoses.·
  • install closed circuit cooling systems instead of once-through.·
  • install high pressure gurneys for cleaning.·
  • recirculate non-critical use water where possible on crate washers, vacuum pumps, boilers etc..·
  • use starch plugs or pigs in CIP processes where possible to recover materials.·
  • install in-line optical sensors and diverters to distinguish between product and water to minimise losses of both.·
  • install and maintain level indicators and controls or other devices where overflows are likely to occur.·
  • install automatic flow control valves to interrupt the water supply when there is a production stoppage.·
  • install and maintain leak detection equipment.·
  • use compressed air instead of water where appropriate.· install and maintain steam/condensate traps.·
  • report and fix leaks promptly.
  • use dry cleaning techniques where possible (scrape mixing bowls before cleaning; pre-clean with air guns; pre-soak equipment and floors to loosen material; squeegee solids up and place them in the bin).
  • use air knives if appropriate.
- Solid Waste Implement changes to help minimise solid waste generation.·
  • establish standard/optimal settings for each shift.·
  • mark all valves and settings clearly to reduce the risk that they will changed incorrectly or set the wrong way by inexperienced staff.·
  • improve process start-up/shut-down and changeover frequency.·
  • dedicate mixing/production lines to certain products to reduce changeover cleanups.·
  • segregate waste for reuse and recycling.·
  • optimise batch sizes.· install drip pans or trays to collect drips and spills.
- Energy Implement changes to help increase energy efficiency or reduce use.·
  • start switch-off programs for lights and equipment while not in use.·
  • install sensors to turn-off or power-down lights and equipment when not in use.·
  • improve insulation on heating or cooling lines, pipes, valves or flanges, refrigeration systems, bottle washers and pasteurizers etc.·
  • remove unnecessary inefficient equipment or replace with more efficient units.·
  • improve maintenance to maximise the efficiency of equipment (e.g. refrigerators and freezers).·
  • favour energy-efficient equipment through the company’s purchasing policies. ·
  • schedule operations to reduce the peaks in energy demand to minimise penalty rates.·
  • schedule operations or use equipment that can utilise off-peak energy.·
  • capture low grade energy to use elsewhere in the operation.·
  • convert from incandescent bulbs to energy efficient fluorescent bulbs (i.e. mercury vapor lamps for outside use; high-pressure sodium-vapor lamps for street lighting, parking lot lighting, and outdoor security lighting; low-pressure sodium vapor lamps for inside buildings).
- - Identify opportunities to derive energy from an alternative source.·
  • natural gas.·
  • on-site solar or wind energy.·
  • participation in ‘green energy’ programs.·
  • conversion of biomass to energy including anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis and gasification.·
  • co-generate energy on-site.
- General Office Waste Reduce paper wastage:·

post circulars by email or on prominent notice boards rather than sending individual copies.·

manage mailing lists to avoid duplications and errors.· reformat faxes to omit cover sheets.·

reformat documents to reduce length (margins, page length). ·

circulate documents electronically (Email and internet) or on disk.·

reduce hard copies by storing common documents (QA Manuals, Newsletters etc) on a network.·

encourage staff not to print Email messages.·

use computer fax software that doesn't require paper to send facsimiles.·

edit drafts electronically before printing.·

remove the company’s name from unwanted direct-mailing lists.·

put newspapers and magazines on circulation or place them in tea rooms rather than buying individual copies.

- - Purchase less toxic and non-toxic alternatives to potentially harmful office materials.·
  • use reusable pump-spray bottles rather than aerosol spray cans.·
  • use non-toxic cleaning products with contents in large reusable containers.·
  • use home-made cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda.·
  • use unbleached paper products.
- - Buy reusable stationery:·
  • use envelopes with metal clasps or see through windows for inter-office mail.·
  • use mechanical pencils and refillable pens.·
  • use refillable tape dispensers.·
  • use updateable, erasable wall calendars.
- - Minimise lunchroom and bathroom waste:·
  • use non-disposable crockery and cutlery.·
  • encourage staff not to bring packaging to work (e.g. use lunch boxes ·
  • avoid vending machines that dispense disposable cups.·
  • use cloth hand towels or air dryers rather than paper towels.
- Maintenance Undertake preventative maintenance. Keep maintenance history cards for all equipment. Service should be based on the optimum life of critical parts (e.g. balancing the cost of replacement and the cost of inefficiency/shutdowns etc.).
Dispatch and Distribution Improved Chain Management Simplify the distribution chain or work with the members of the chain to improve delivery efficiency.
- - Establish a cold chain to maintain product quality and minimise waste/risk.
Re-use and Recycling Reuse Identify opportunities or reuse materials in the process.·
  • use relatively clean wastewater streams (e.g. can post-cleaning rinses be used as make-up water for sanitizing).·
  • regenerate used lubricants and caustics (e.g. caustic settling tanks, filtering etc.). ·
  • collect solids and reincorporate into the product.
- - Develop arrangements with suppliers to take back and re-use their shipping boxes or pallets etc. or work with them to develop new delivery systems (e.g. bulk bags).
- Recycling Identify waste exchange programs in the local area or other opportunities to share wastes with other companies.
- - Purchase material-handling/recycling equipment (e.g. balers, shredders or compactors) to improve efficiency of handling recyclables.
- - Provide separate bins to enable proper segregation and reuse/recycling of waste (e.g. paper/cardboard, plastic, polystyrene, metals and general food waste etc.).
- - Identify other opportunities for waste to be segregated and put to beneficial use.·
  • reprocess into the current operation or as inputs into other processes.· use in another company’s operation.·
  • make into a by-product for human consumption.· convert to a food source for animals (e.g. pig farms).·
  • sell to recycling companies (e.g. composting or vermiculture (worm farms), paper/plastic/glass recyclers etc.).·
  • put unwanted materials and equipment in an area where staff can take them home.· donate to schools, charities etc.).
Waste Treatment and Disposal On-site Treatment Identify opportunities where on-site wastewater treatment will reduce the overall cost of disposal (screening, physical separation, biological removal etc.)
- Primary Screening / segregation Reduce the amount of solid waste being lost to the wastewater stream.·
  • segregate high strength wastewaters (e.g. from CIP and mixing tanks) and handle/treat/dispose separately.·
  • install and maintain sieves/screens on all drains.·
  • remove any remaining solids from the wastewater before disposal - install a screen or hydrosieve etc.
- Storm Water Management Segregate storm and sewer water (e.g. covering washbays, installing diverters in washbay drains etc.) to avoid unnecessary treatment and disposal costs.
Marketing / Product Improvement Promotion Use the company’s Cleaner Production achievements as a marketing tool (e.g. trade and consumer advertising, packaging etc.)
- Redesign Incorporate Cleaner Production/environmental considerations into the design stage of new products or when purchasing and commissioning new plant and equipment.
- - Redesign products to make them more efficient/less wasteful for the end user.



 Last modified by Nicole Price on the 01 October, 2004

 The United Nations Environment Programme