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Section I: Benefits of an Environmental and Social Management System in the Food & Beverage Industry

Provided by IFC Sustainable Business Advisory


Today, food and beverage companies are confronted with a number of significant environmental and social challenges. None of the challenges are insurmountable, but if not effec­tively addressed and managed, they will hurt your core business operations and profitability.

Among these challenges are increasing energy and raw materi­als costs, the growing power and influence of environmental and labor regulatory agencies, and rapidly evolving consumer awareness and concerns about environmental and social issues. These risks are in addition to the primary risk of failing to man­age food safety while building brand and consumer confidence. All of these risks ultimately can have financial consequences. Moreover, export is vital to the success of many food and bever­age businesses; but exporting brings even more demands from international legislation, voluntary standards and consumer requirements – increasingly related to environmental and social practices. All of these risks, requirements and pressures that your business faces are forces that encourage you to implement a management system.

There are direct business benefits from implementing an envi­ronmental and social management system. Conserving and us­ing energy and materials efficiently helps to reduce production costs. Reducing waste and discharges can minimize the cost of increasingly expensive, regulated discharges to the environment (such as greenhouse gases and wastewater). In the food and beverage industry, there can be financial benefits from waste management. Instead of merely capturing and treating process wastes with no benefit, you can convert organic wastes to bio­gas for boiler fuel or generate electric power, or organic fertilizer and soil amendments to strengthen crop production sustain­ability. A management system, through its defined activities and assigned responsibilities, can elucidate where expenditures exceed industry benchmarks and identify potential production cost savings.

The same tangible benefits can be realized on the social side.

Clear, transparent human resource policies and procedures improve communication between workers and managers. This helps to anticipate and avoid labor problems. Effective occupa­tional health and safety management procedures work toward the identification of workplace and process hazards, then seek to eliminate or reduce them through engineering controls and employee training on how to avoid job site risks. This serves not only to reduce incidents, accidents and fatalities, but also contributes to reducing insurance premiums for worker com­pensation.

Management systems are widely used by food and beverage companies in quality control and food safety. An environmen­tal and social management system simply extends that approach to managing the impact your business has on the environment and the working conditions at your facility.

Ultimately, your management systems should be integrated and centralized, instead of having one system for quality, one for food safety and one for ESMS. Integrated management sys­tems are the goal, but the focus of this Handbook is on helping you implement an ESMS that is appropriate for the size and nature of your company.

<Go to ESMS Implementation Handbook Main Page 

>Proceed to Section II: Understanding an Environmental and Social Management System 

Copyright © 2016 IFC Corporate Governance.  All Rights Reserved.

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