Opportunities for Eco-innovation within the Wholesale Food Sector. A Case Study of Caterite Food and Wine Service.

Lythgoe, Daniel Opportunities for Eco-innovation within the Wholesale Food Sector. A Case Study of Caterite Food and Wine Service. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This study focuses on reducing the environmental impacts of the wholesale food and drink business, specifically small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through a case study of Caterite Food and Wine Services Limited. The company is a wholesale food and drink distributor that owns three separate facilities within the Lake District National Park, and all three sites were part of this study. To assess the opportunities for ecoinnovation within the food and drink sector the case study concentrated on a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and single-use plastic. Eco-innovation has been described as the implementation of: (i) new or improved product (ii) processes, or (iii) organizational changes that reduces the use of natural resources and decreases the release of harmful substances. The company’s GHG emissions were base-lined using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol methodologies. These focused-on Scope 1 (72%), Scope 2 (27%) and water as part of Scope 3 (<1%) emission. Although Scope 1 emission represented most of their emissions a previous company reduction strategy had targeted these. Therefore, the focus of the research was on Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions. To allow a detailed Scope 2 emissions reduction strategy to be proposed a walk-through audit was undertaken to model where electricity is used within the business. There are three detailed reduction strategies evaluated and the results present the amount of alleviated GHG in kg CO2e and a cost analysis to provide the company with more confidence to invest in the eco-innovation. The three strategies are photovoltaic (PV) systems, retrofitting the lighting and rain water harvesting. The single use plastic packaging reductions are focused on articles that the company purchase and use as these can be easily changed compared to articles used upstream or downstream in the supply chain. Three articles have been studied; Pallet wrap, where a suitable alternative has been found to both reduce environmental impacts and benefit the company economically, oxo-degradable singlet bags which can be changed to recycled paper bags for a lesser environmental impact but an increased cost and vacuum packaging used to package minimally processed vegetables were a simple change in bag sizes provides a reduction in single use plastic. To ensure burden shifting did not take place Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies have been followed. The results show that there are many opportunities to implement eco-innovation ranging from expensive PV systems providing GHG free energy to simple process changes that will reduce the amount of single use plastic used. The results have also found that it is important for companies to position environmental issues as a high priority to allow staff to report andv implement their own eco-innovation. For the result of this study to have a significant impact within SMEs in the food and drink wholesaling business the knowledge should be shared with them and not be used as a competitive advantage.

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