► ResponsibilityReduce our environmental footprint

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.

This year, we have undertaken work to identify which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) we can make an impact on and mapped them to our responsibility strategy:

Alignment to UN SDGs

We are signatories to and active members of the FDF 2025 Ambition, the Courtauld 2025 Commitment, Champions 12.3 and WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact. Our industry commitments go beyond legislation, are an integral part of our governance and help to inform our ESG strategy and target setting. Based on these commitments, we have developed additional KPIs to drive our progress forward. We also partner with community groups and NGOs, such as The Westcountry Rivers Trust and Company Shop Group, to deliver a programme of initiatives.

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 reduce waste sent to energy recovery.
Food Waste
  • Monitor, report and reduce our food waste as part of our commitment to Courtauld 2025.
  • Maintain sending zero food waste to landfill.
  • Increase food waste redistribution to over 750 tonnes per annum by 2020.
Embed environmentally sustainable packaging across our portfolio
  • 100% of our plastic packaging to be recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
  • Continuously review our customer and consumer packaging to minimise it wherever possible. Through this we aim to reduce the weight of plastics used by 500 tonnes by 2025.
Engage with our supply chain to minimise the environmental impact of our packaging and explore more sustainable solutions for our packaging innovation
  • We will aim to remove problematic plastics (PVC and PS) from our portfolio by end of 2020.
  • Actively seek to increase the use of recycled plastic content across our portfolio to help create a market-pull for recycled polymers, wherever practical, and in compliance with food safety standards.
  • As we develop new packaging, we will investigate use of all recyclable plastic material options as well as reusable designs, compostable substrates and also any non-plastic packaging which may offer improved long-term sustainability.
Educate consumers and customers by providing clarity on disposal options
  • We will continue to clearly and transparently label our products, in compliance with OPRL (On Pack Recycling Labelling) guidelines so that our consumers can easily understand the recyclability of any packaging: by the end of 2019, 100% of our UK retail portfolio to carry OPRL guidelines.

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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 (to 254,856,747 kWh, down from 260,235,458 kWh). All of our manufacturing sites (excluding Knighton Foods) are accredited to ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems to drive efficiency further.

We have reduced our overall CO2 emissions this year by a further 5.1% which is a 39.8% decrease against our baseline figure of 103,102 tonnes CO2 (year ended 31 December 2008) when we first started to collect emissions data on a like-for-like basis, and this has been adjusted for site disposals.

The main changes implemented in the last 12 months were at our Lifton Devon creamery, home of Ambrosia. The site has benefitted from the first full year running of natural gas to fuel the boilers which emit around 25% less CO2 per kWh than the previously used heavy fuel oil and, in addition, we installed a new and more efficient can retort system.

We have a zero waste to landfill policy and, as a priority, we work with our waste partner to recycle wherever we can. This year, 43,333 tonnes have been recycled and the rest (1,625 tonnes) sent to incineration facilities to generate energy.

We have met and exceeded our previous target to reduce water use by 25% (against a 2007 baseline when we started measuring) by 2020. The Courtauld 2025 Water Stewardship Steering Group, of which our Group Environmental Manager is the Co-Chair, is now looking at setting a new target. Our annual non-ingredient water usage has increased this year due to leaks, but we have immediately taken action to fix the issues. Premier Foods is committed to supporting the Courtauld 2025 Water Ambition and playing its part to improve the quality and availability of water in key areas of the UK where ingredients are sourced to produce food and drink (see case study).

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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, 95% of our packaging, by weight, is recyclable (both widely recycled and check locally) using OPRL guidelines.

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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 and we are adopting a recycle, reduce and remove strategy to make further improvements. We support a vision for a circular plastics economy, where plastic is valued and kept in the economy, but out of the environment. That’s why, in April 2018, we signed up as a founding member of the UK Plastics Pact and pledged to work with governments, businesses, local authorities, NGOs and citizens to help transform the UK plastics packaging sector by 2025.

Our dedication to improve the environmental impact of our plastic packaging predates the launch of the UK Plastics Pact. Our journey started four years ago to remove unnecessary plastic materials from our packaging, whilst always following the Packaging Essential Requirements legislation. In the last 24 months, we have removed 500 tonnes of hard-to-recycle or problematic plastics from our portfolio. Our work here has focused on removing polystyrene and black plastic trays and pots across a variety of brands. Our Mr Kipling six flatpack slices have changed to a clear RPET material so they can be easily recycled and by Christmas 2019, our popular mince pies were in clear trays, over 200 million of them!

With our approach to improve the recyclability of plastic packaging across our portfolio, we are focusing on using new and alternative recyclable materials across our brands. Through this process, we have found instances where a change would mean increasing the overall weight of the packaging, as there is not always a lighter-weight recyclable alternative available. Therefore, the current KPI to remove an additional 500 tonnes of packaging from our portfolio is no longer aligned with our broader recyclability and circular economy commitment, so we have chosen to no longer measure this. Instead, we will continue working on increasing the percentage of recycled content in our packaging to foster a circular economy as per our UK Plastics Pact commitment. To date, we have achieved 81% recyclability of our plastic packaging, which is an increase from 69% in the last 12 months.

This progress has been possible because we have instituted a new cross-functional Plastics Steering Group which is systematically reviewing the recyclability and volume of plastics used within our packaging, to identify where we can make improvements. Where an alternative packaging material is available, is deemed suitable and is more sustainable for the environment, we will look to remove plastic. There are more than 40 projects within the programme, including: recyclability, PVC removal, headroom reduction, inclusion of recycled content and packaging weight reduction. Plastics remains a complex issue and so we have been working with our suppliers, customers and peers this year to deepen our understanding and make improvements on plastics use.

We recognise that key to a circular economy is creating a market for more recycled content and help consumers to physically recycle material which is recyclable. On both points, we are making progress. Overall, 17% of our plastic packaging across our portfolio now has a recycled material content to help create a market-pull for recycled polymers, whilst remaining in compliance with food safety standards. All of our UK packaging is compliant with OPRL guidelines to ensure that our consumers can easily understand how to dispose of our packaging. We have this year also joined the Citizen Collaborative Action Group of WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact to support its campaigns. We have actively participated in the Clear on Plastics campaign which aims to cut through the confusion on plastic packaging and give UK citizens clear, evidence-based information, which allows them to make their own informed choices.

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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.

Our total food production for this period was 347,168 tonnes. We have measured our overall food waste to be 7,791 tonnes, which equates to 2.24% of food produced (on a calendar year basis, as reported with Champions 12.3). The waste can be created by many different issues, such as not meeting quality standards, production over-runs, short shelf life of warehouse stock and floor waste during the packing process. The split of disposal of our 7,791 tonnes of waste is between anaerobic digestion and land injection of on-site effluent plant waste as fertiliser. Working on redistributing more of our surplus stock, we are proud to partner with Company Shop and support those most in need within our communities. Company Shop takes our edible but damaged and therefore unsaleable food and sells it to community members in need, at a discounted price. Profits are used to help fund activities and workshops 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.

This year, 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. With the Harnessing Harder to Reach Surplus initiative, Company Shop have been able to help us identify surplus stock created on our production lines. An example of this work is on our surplus OXO cubes, which are now repackaged and labelled before being sold to the members-only shops.

We redistributed around 1.5 million units via Company Shop to their members. These equate to 455 tonnes of food waste, or the equivalent of 1 million meals, which is an uplift of 49% compared with the previous year. This is also estimated to save 1,821 tonnes of CO2 emissions.


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.