Flour milling is a dry process and produces negligible waste. The greatest environmental impact of flour milling results from energy usage. Millers have always been keen to improve energy efficiency, not least to reduce their own costs.
Other potential environmental impacts include the fugitive emissions of flour dust and in some circumstances, noise pollution. Fugitive dust emissions to the environment are limited with the use of filters and hoses whilst noise levels are monitored.
Although the flour milling industry may be naturally less intrusive environmentally compared with many other industries, millers are keen to maintain this clean record. In the mid 1990's the industry carried out an environmental review, from which it developed a self assessment workbook for sites to help them benchmark performance.
Prior to the introduction of the UK climate change levy, in 1995 and 1998 millers carried out industry benchmarking surveys on energy usage. The results have helped millers to assess and improve their own energy efficiency. Furthermore, in 1997, flour millers worked with the UK government's energy efficiency programme to produce a Good Practice Guide.
Since 1999, the need for flour millers' to save energy and demonstrate continual improvement has heightened with the pressure to meet targets for a discount on the Climate Change Levy (an energy usage tax which came into force in April 2001).
Other environmental legislation affecting the milling industry includes the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive.
This directive requires mills producing over 300t/day to obtain a permit from the Environment Agency (detailing the sites' environmental management) by January 2005. Without this permit these sites will not be allowed to operate.
With approximately 25 sites requiring this permit, nabim works with the Environment Agency to ensure that flour mills are aware of any permitting changes.