This sector accounts for about 10% of Brazil’s GDP and is one of the industrial sectors that generates the least GHG emissions
The food and beverage industry in Brazil has an increasing focus on reducing the sector’s adverse impacts on the environment, and has been leveraging investments in this space. The sector accounts for about 10% of Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and, according to estimates by the Brazilian Food Industry Association (ABIA), investments in sustainable actions reached 0.8% (BRL 6 billion) of the sector’s average annual revenue in 2020. This is equivalent to 27% of total investments in the food industry (BRL 22.3 billion) in 2020.
“Investments are being made on all fronts, from reducing the use of natural resources to professional training actions, implementation of social projects for the development of local communities and adoption of waste management and water consumption reduction strategies,” said the President of ABIA, João Dornellas.
Sustainable actions include, for instance, projects to enhance the environmental sustainability performance of foodstuff manufacturers that hold ESG certifications. They include machinery, equipment and technologies that enhance energy efficiency in the production process; reduce water consumption (water footprint); reduce greenhouse gas emissions (which includes expanded use of renewable sources and efficiency in transport logistics); actions to reduce food losses and wastage along the food industry’s value chain; systems to monitor and trace agricultural commodities (which includes actions to reduce deforestation and protect the biodiversity in biomes in collaboration with suppliers) and circular economy (reverse logistics, reduction, reuse and R&D for used packaging).
Investments in projects and actions for food and nutrition education and incentives for physical and sports activities in partnership with public and private institutions, including NGOs, were also considered.
Circular economy – Towards a circular economy, projects for the proper reuse and disposal of waste have been in the radar of the food industry for almost a decade now.
Industrial companies that committed to promoting the circular economy in their production process include Cargill, manufacturer of the Liza soybean oil. In 2021, 1.5 million liters of frying oil was collected through the Ação Renove o Meio Ambiente program, with a 42% increase in the number of collection sites, even during the pandemic, in comparison to 2020. The oil collected is transformed into other sustainable byproducts, such as biodiesel.
Launched in 2010, the program emerged as an alternative for customers to properly dispose of waste from the frying process. In addition to establishing delivery sites, the reverse logistics system includes environmental education and awareness-raising activities. The program is currently running in 18 states and the Federal District, and 7.6 million liters of oil have been collected since 2010.
“The purpose of the Ação Renove o Meio Ambiente program is to support consumers through cooking oil recycling actions. The environmental education and awareness actions are part of the program and are in line with the sustainability strategy of the Liza brand,” said Marcio Barela, Sustainability Coordinator at Cargill.
The program has been growing and relies on connections that support the collection, transformation and proper disposal of oil. Collection sites are mostly found in supermarkets, but there is now a significant number of condos participating in the program, in addition to schools that encourage students to raise awareness of their families regarding used oil recycling and proper disposal.
Emissions reduction – According to the latest issue of the National Inventory of Anthropogenic Emissions by Sources and Removal by Sinks of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) published by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, the food sector is one of the industrial sectors with the lowest GHG generation.
The sector plays a relevant role in reducing GHG emissions through the so-called Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) – one of the flexibility mechanisms established under the Kyoto Protocol (1997) to assist in the process of reducing GHG emissions –, which are capable of generating carbon credits.
DSM, a global Netherlands-based company with a focus on health, nutrition and bioscience, has been working on the development of a series of solutions to reduce farm animal emissions by double digits by 2030. DSM is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dairy production by 20%, ammonia emissions from swine farming by 30% and phosphorus emissions from poultry production by 30% by using science-based solutions.
Energy transition – The energy transition involves changes not only to energy generation, but also to its consumption and reuse. Kraft Heinz, which encompasses brands such as Heinz, Quero, Hemmer, BR Spices, and Kraft, has committed to reducing energy use by 15% in all of its manufacturing facilities by 2025, with the majority of its electricity sourced from renewable sources. Decreasing water use by 20% at Kraft Heinz plants in high-risk areas and by 15% in all plants by 2025 is also a plan. According to a CNI survey of 572 companies conducted in June and July 2021, 83% of industrial companies reported an increase in energy costs as their main concern. In addition, 63% were concerned about the risk of energy rationing and 61% were concerned about potential disruptions or interruptions in the energy supply. Investments in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency actions should be part of the solution.
Forest conservation – M. Dias Branco, which produces cookies, pasta, flour and wheat meal, cake mixes, margarine, and vegetable creams, cakes, corn and wheat snacks, toast, chocolate toppings (cookies), and cereal bits, has been implementing a number of activities, including planting seedlings in Environmental Preservation Areas (APP), water reuse, waste reduction, and expanded use of renewable energies.
Dias Branco focuses on the recovery of flora and monitoring of fauna in the Northeast and South of Brazil. As a result of the initiative, more than 3,300 mangroves have been cultivated over the past three years. M. Dias Branco also maintains and manages an ecological reserve that covers seven hectares in the Grande Moinho Aratu area, Aratu bay, metropolitan region of Salvador (BA), and the surrounding native forest.
“We plant various species of fruit trees in this area to attract animals by offering food, which enriches the local biodiversity,” said Aricelma Ribeiro, Environment Manager at M. Dias Branco.