• Loading

United Biscuits cuts its carbon

Christian Aid applauds the new package of environmental measures announced by the UK’s largest biscuit manufacturer which will substantially cut its carbon emissions and reduce its use of water and packaging.

United Biscuits' decision to take an industry lead in the battle against climate change follows lobbying of the company by Christian Aid policy experts, and a visit to one of its plants in West London during Christian Aid’s Cut the Carbon march last year.

A giant Jaffa cake was presented to the company by one of the marchers, Mohammed Adow, from the Christian Aid partner organisation Northern Aid in Kenya, to draw attention to its carbon emissions. 

Sustainability targets

Now the company, which has a 25 per cent market share, has said that by 2020 its carbon footprint will be cut by one third of its 1995 emissions.

Water use during the same period will be reduced by a quarter of 2007 levels, and the total weight of packaging being used by 2015 will be 20 per cent less than 2003 levels.

The company also wants to send zero waste to landfill by 2010 and zero food waste to landfill by 2015.

Promising start

'This is a very promising start. We hope other companies will rapidly follow suit,' said Andrew Pendleton, a senior climate change policy analyst at Christian Aid. 'It just goes to show that campaigners can make a difference.

'The hundreds of people who turned out to support our 1,000 mile Cut the Carbon march through the UK last year have even more reason now to feel proud of themselves.

'Climate change is having a catastrophic impact on the poor people around the world in communities vulnerable to drought and flooding.

It is heartening that United Biscuits is taking the lead in doing something about it. The cuts could have been more ambitious, but this is a start.

Need for new law

'The company is behaving very responsibly, but we will be looking carefully at the small print. We want to make sure these are absolute cuts that will cover any future growth in the company’s output.'

The stand the company has taken highlights a glaring omission in the Climate Change Bill at present before the House of Lords – there is no mandatory requirement for companies in the UK to publish any record of their carbon emissions.

Christian Aid believes that companies should be obliged to produce such figures in exactly the same way as they are required to produce annual accounts.