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Waste minimisation technical assistance may be obtained from governmental agencies, consulting engineers, professional organisations, non-profit-making organisations, and the internet. The following information details some of the services available in the UK.

In March 2005, a new €284 million initiative was launched to help businesses reduce waste and manage resources more efficiently. The Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW) programme specifically targets waste minimisation. Free services help businesses cut waste at every stage of the business process including research and development, market development, product design, operations, market solutions to waste, and compliance with legislation.

The Envirowise waste minimisation programme helps companies in the United Kingdom reduce the use of raw materials and the production of waste while at the same time saving money. The programme promotes the formation of regional and local waste minimisation clubs. From 1999 to March 2007, the UK government will spend €95.9 million on the programme in an effort to save ten times that amount by reducing waste at the source. Improved management is the primary method of waste minimisation being introduced by the programme. Envirowise helps to change management attitudes by showing that the true cost of waste to an organisation is much greater than they estimate and that significant savings can be realised by reducing waste. Envirowise provides education to companies through publications, seminars, and a telephone hotline. Companies with fewer than 250 employees may receive free visits from consultants. By 2002, the Envirowise programme had helped reduce the material use by over 240 000 tonnes per year, reduced waste disposal by over 1 million tonnes annually, and lowered costs by €200 million per year.

International standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provide a global environmental management system. Called ISO 14000, these voluntary standards help companies manage and evaluate the environmental facets of their operations without being prescriptive. More information about ISO 14000 may be found on the ISO website (http://www.iso-14001.org.uk/).

In April 2004, the first international conference on reducing food processing waste, 'Total Food 2004', was hosted by the Institute of Food Research. Nearly 100 people attended from a wide range of interest groups including food processors, research scientists, consumer scientists, animal feed industries, and non-governmental agencies. Lectures addressed drivers to reduce waste, associated legislation, and consumer concerns. Some promising solutions to waste management concerns were presented, including fractionation and extraction of co-products to obtain potentially valuable components for use as ingredients and nutriceuticals, extraction of functional foods, and whole co-product exploitation. An example was given of how the whey industry has turned a conventional waste stream into a valuable source of nutrients (in protein bars, drinks, and other products) and pharmaceuticals. Plans are being made for a biennial series of conferences to be held internationally, the next conference will therefore be Total Food 2007.

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