The UK food and drink industry has slashed its carbon dioxide emissions by 17% since 1990 as part of a five-point plan to tackle the impact its businesses have on climate change.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said today (27 November) that the reduction means the industry has been releasing an average of 58,000 tonnes less carbon dioxide per year since 1990 - the equivalent of taking 22,000 cars off UK roads each year.

The 17% reduction has been achieved on the back of efforts by UK food manufacturers to improve energy efficiencies in their factories, boost productivity and make greater use of renewable sources of energy, the FDF said. 

The FDF claimed the results meant the industry is on target to meet their commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2010, compared with 1990.

Fiona Dawson, who doubles up as managing director of Mars Snackfoods UK and chair of the FDF's sustainability and competitiveness steering group, said: "Our report demonstrates that our members are committed to making a real difference to the environment.

"Our achievements to date are impressive and provide a strong foundation on which we will build as we look to meet the ambitions we set ourselves in 2007. As with other sectors we are currently experiencing challenging economic times. However, our members remain determined to meet the commitments contained in FDF's Five-fold Environmental Ambition."

In addition to reducing emissions, FDF said its members have prevented over half a million tonnes waste being created, recycled or recovered 82% of packaging waste from factories, and launched the Federation House Commitment, under which 237 food and drink manufacturing sites across the UK are working to improve water efficiency.

The five-point plan was launched in October last year and aimed to stop sending food and packaging waste to landfill from 2015. Other ambitions included working with the UK government-backed WRAP initiative to cut the amount of packaging sent to households, reducing water use and achieving "fewer and friendlier food transport miles".