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Sector Report: Food and beverage – A circular ambition for post-consumer waste


SAP and Topolytics are working on the COP26 Waste Insights Project, which will unify and analyse data from consumer goods, retailers, waste managers, investors, NGOs and local government.

According to a SAP Qualtrics WEF Survey at DAVOS 2020, 61 per cent of people globally do not have access to or know how to use recycling infrastructure. The AI showcase with the Scottish Government’s circular economy agency Zero Waste Scotland, demonstrates the power of innovative technologies in identifying the opportunities to recapture waste materials and accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

The data gathered from co-innovation partners, including BrewDog, Coca-Cola European Partners, and DS Smith feeds into Scotland’s Waste and Resources Map – gives a live view of materials flows from, through and out of Scotland. This enables government, investors, waste managers, consumer industries and start-ups to define strategic priorities and build national recycling infrastructure where it is needed the most.

Co-innovation partners can understand what happens to industrial and post-consumer packaging waste. These insights allow them to design interventions that drive greater recovery of these materials, enable resource efficiencies, and identify cost savings on waste prevention. This contributes to reductions in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and engages directly into core development strategy within SAP’s programme for circular economy.

The project has already delivered its first prototype using data from BrewDog, Coca-Cola European Partners and DS Smith. The prototype has ingested, normalised and analysed data on commercial, industrial, and post-consumer waste to generate a WasteMap that demonstrates producer responsibility and enhances environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) reporting on resources, materials, and waste.

“As part of our net zero carbon plan we are driving waste out of our business and finding ways to maximise the use of by-products and packaging,” Martin Dickie, co-founder at BrewDog, says. “Measuring carbon impact across our supply chains is also vital – including that of our brewery, distribution and retail waste. The starting point is understanding what happens to the material that is handled by our recycling and waste management partners. Working with SAP and Topolytics is giving us a clear view on where this material goes and, importantly, what happens to it – in real time. The resulting insights feed into our zero-waste plan and supports our drive to be completely transparent and open in everything that we do.”

For DS Smith maintaining a circular economy is vital to sustainable growth across all the markets in which it operates. “This means that we need to carefully consider the journey our materials take, understand how customers and consumers use our packaging, and collaborate across supply chains to plug any leakage of materials in landfill or incineration,” Matthew Prosser, European commercial director, DS Smith, explains. “This waste insights project is one of the first real collaborations of its kind, and we are extremely pleased to have been involved since its inception.”

Stephen Jamieson, head of sustainable business innovation, SAP EMEA North explains that 91 per cent of material resources are lost into landfill or leaked into the environment after consumption. “We see a real opportunity to bring together the biggest global brands across a variety of industries using insights and data intelligence to understand the impact of materials throughout their lifecycle and create a more sustainable future,” he continues. “We want to use this opportunity to demonstrate how innovative technologies can help bring together business, government and NGOs to tackle climate change and turn waste into a valuable resource, to support recovery rates and provide access to new revenue streams.”

The ambition is to make the world’s waste visible, verifiable, and valuable. “This starts with really understanding what is happening in the waste system, which is complex and opaque,” Michael Groves, CEO, Topolytics, adds. “Our work with SAP and its customers is generating insights into the many pathways and outcomes for their production and post-consumer waste. This drives resource and cost efficiencies, enhances their reporting and can support their circular economy goals.”

The COP26 Waste Insights Project supports SAP’s vision for a plastic-free ocean by 2030 and the final prototype will be launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in 2021.

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