Perhaps the adage “waste not, want not” sums up the challenges beverage producers face, particularly because sustainability, the ability to recycle products and the beverage industry’s pursuit of a circular economy are topics that continue to permeate every aspect of the supply chain. The waste control issue is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for beverage producers in any segment of the industry because the creation of waste in the execution of the supply chain can be a very costly proposition if not correctly managed and controlled. 

To effectively accomplish realistic control, it’s important to define the various types of waste and the methods and procedures that can or are being used under a variety of operating conditions. The following are two category processes: inherent waste and created waste or loss.

  • Inherent waste is the losses that are part of creating the beverage itself.
  • Created waste or loss involves packaged production or manufacturing where waste or loss is created by an array of causes such as lack of procedures, methods and/or training or failure to execute according to the warehouse’s established rules and regulation.

A deeper look at these processes will explain which of these is more controllable.

Because beverages are a process industry, there are particular aspects that will be inherent to formulations and recipes that in fact establish the first category: inherent waste.

Inherent losses can be caused by the characteristics of raw materials or ingredients and is commonly referred to as shrinkage or yield. Beverage-makers constantly are focused on reducing or eliminating the elusive and difficult cost of inherent loss — a supreme challenge.

Although most beverage producers have developed control methods and technological devices to minimize inherent loss, the differences in ingredients and constant changes and tinkering to recipes have unfortunately not resulted in a generic method or procedure that can be applicable across all categories. The fact that there’s so many different varietals on the market, including plant-based beverages, juices, dairy drinks, carbonated and non-carbonated, means that there are many variables. Yet, in today’s beverage plant, workers are coming up with realistic solutions to address each challenge, but it might take more time and expense.

That’s why having a clear idea of the product type and what is needed to keep inherent waste at a minimum is important.

Meanwhile, created waste or loss, the second category, is created by an array of causes, but is far more controllable than inherent loss. This is because created waste that is managed through the type of packaging, how fast the equipment runs, the number of changeovers the equipment needs can help produce lower costs for the manufacturer.

For example, some high-frequency losses are common to most operations. Using the supply chain flow, processing, where water and product can be lost by leaky valves, failure to turn off hoses and careless operation of measuring equipment all can be prevented. Any of these issues can be innocent losses/mistakes because water is not usually considered. Yet, if it is lost during operations, it is real.

When running/producing the product, loss also can occur. Filling and closing containers where filling and closing machines jam, fill heights, lids, caps and crown entry into closing machines aren’t checked properly can all result in careless, albeit preventable losses. The same can be said for packaging and palletizing equipment jams, which reduce the number of salable cases. If packages are being produced in house versus contract packed, there also can be inherent losses.

Throughout the beverage supply chain, waste generation in the form of raw and packaging materials is realistically never going to be completely eliminated; therefore, because of the “loss cost” aspect it should be a high priority objective for producers to develop and maintain a “waste control philosophy” that can minimize all types of loss and realistically reduce loss cost. Remember, this truth to prevent inherent or created waste — “haste can create waste.”