Space – A resource we need to work harder

Optimising space can deliver a triple influence on your bottom line, or ROIII. Return on Investment, Innovation, and Inspiration.

To illustrate, a case of 12 qty 750ml wine bottles contains 9 litres (measures 334x250x322mm) (0.27 cubic meter). This equates to 0.03 cubic m per litre.

A 1000 litre IBC (intermediate Bulk Carrier) including pallet, cage and fittings is 1200x1000x1160mm (1.39 cubic meter). This equates to 0.014 cubic m per litre.

Clearly there are pros and cons of buying wine in IBCs, but a shipping container of wine, will hold over twice as much wine in IBCs as it would in bottles.

Costs of space

It is estimated that refrigeration uses 15% of the total energy used worldwide. As the planet warms, we are using more energy to keep products and space cool. We have seen the cost of temperature-controlled distribution increase by 50% in the last 12 months.

Global Reefer container rates have risen sharply since 2019 with the prospects for further increases.

Infinite range and availability of food come at a cost, and this cost must be questionable. Seasonal local food must be higher on the agenda. In 2021 the UK imported £10.5 billion worth of fruit and vegetables, and in the same period Brits threw away £1.17 billion worth of fruit and vegetables. This is madness.

It is not all bad news

Supermarkets in the UK have invested in more energy efficient refrigeration, lighting, heating, ventilation, air Conditioning and building design, and in doing so driven down their use of energy. At Westaways we have never been busier, but our energy use has reduced by over 20% in the last 10 years, and we believe we can reduce this further.

What next

Now is a “Don’t Look up” moment.

In the food industry we must change our supply chains, our tastes, our practises, and our packaging. It is manufacturers who can and must lead on this. We cannot be casual or show a lack of concern. Brands who take brave steps will be followed by customers who share the same values.

The time to act is now. Do not be judged by what you are planning to do, be judged by what you have done.

Westaways have found sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging; we believe this a path that others will follow. Independent flexible companies can demonstrate and prove the art of the possible to others in their sectors.

Here are some projects on our to do list.

Space utilisation – making better use of temperature-controlled logistics, storage, and retail space.

Dual purpose packaging – that encourages best practise at end of life and reduces fugitive waste.

Alternative packaging substrates – using local plant fibre rather than imported wood pulp.

Wish us luck, or better still join us on our journey.