The UK's Department for the environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) has said proposals for ways to improve the food and drink industry's environmental, economic and social performance have been published.

Defra said it is consulting on a draft Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS), which sets out how food and drink manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and foodservice providers can improve their sustainability by adopting best practice widely in priority areas such as energy, water, waste, food transport and through action on areas such as health and nutrition.

The draft strategy has been developed by ministers and a stakeholder group that included a wide range of interests including food industry representatives, consumer organisations and environmentalists.

The FISS aims in particular to encourage progress by the food and drink industry through closer involvement with programmes such as Envirowise, the Carbon Trust and the Waste and Resources Action Programme. It builds upon the work of the Food and Drink Federation and the British Retail Consortium, and covers all food and drink sectors beyond the farm gate.

"Sustainability is about a better quality of life for everyone, and the food and drink industry has a major role to play in this given its huge economic, environmental and social importance. Improved resource efficiency is a win-win as it saves the environment and improves businesses' bottom line," said food and farming minister Larry Whitty.

"Government and industry are working together to tackle a range of issues including pollution, waste, food transport and energy use. However, there is still a long way to go and more work is required to ensure that we can build on good practice and roll out sustainable ways of working throughout the food chain," he added.

To view the draft strategy, click here.