Food Centre Wales recently hosted and organised in partnership with Business Wales the first ‘Zero Waste Conference’ at Food Centre Wales on Tuesday, 16 October. Over 40 food and drink businesses from across Wales attended the event.
The event aimed to encourage food and drink producers to take a sustainable approach to their businesses, to add value to their brands, whilst developing business leads and boosting sales.
Aimed at small individual producers and SMEs through to larger manufacturers, the conference looked at highly topical industry issues including sustainable packaging, process efficiency improvements and waste prevention.
The UK market for sustainably produced food and drinks is currently estimated to be worth £8.64billion and is growing 5% year on year. To remain competitive, it’s imperative that Welsh food and drink businesses take the lead in being as environmentally sustainable as possible, with retail, wholesale and the public sectors all actively seeking suppliers that help them meet their corporate social responsibility and legislative objectives.
Iain Cox from EcoStudio opened the event:
“This conference comes at critical time for the industry. Sustainability sells more than ever before. Trade buyers and consumers want food and drink products from brands they can trust. Provenance, good ethics, packaging and waste prevention are all areas that Welsh businesses can gain advantage.
Jessica Palalagi, Head of Sustainable Resources Management at Marks and Spencer’s presented details of their Plan A Scheme at the event. Jessica explained how meeting environmental aims makes business sense for Marks and Sepncers, with commercial gains from efficiency and sustainable management. She also highlighted how they are supporting suppliers to implement changes that will meet the company’s aspirations to become a zero-waste business.
Representatives from across the supply chain will discuss their commercial approach to zero waste and the circular economy, as well as providing the practical advice for businesses to make more informed sustainable packaging choices.
Representatives from Volac, Cwtch Glamordy and Natural Weigh also shared their experiences of how they have incorporated changes in the business to make their processes more efficient, reduce waste and make more informed sustainable packaging choices. They also highlighted the challenges they have had to overcome as well as providing practical advice for businesses on how to become more sustainable.
David Warren, Head of Circular Economy and Policy Development at Welsh Government, presented what steps the Welsh Government are taking to work towards their own Zero Waste Policy for Wales. He explained that ‘Welsh Government is fully behind moves to make Wales a truly ‘circular economy’ and fit for our ‘future generations’.
In the afternoon delegates had the opportunity to take a tour of the Innovation & Manufacturing Hub at Food centre Wales and take part in Business Wales’s ‘Green Growth Pledge’ Workshop. The workshop aimed to help businesses develop a plan for incorporating sustainability priorities into your business as well as illustrating to your customers that you’re doing your bit for the planet.
The event was very successful with many commenting on how interesting all the speakers were and how much invaluable information they had received from attending the event.