GMA report highlights ‘success stories’ in industry sustainability

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

GMA report highlights ‘success stories’ in industry sustainability

Related tags: Carbon dioxide

Cargill’s reuse of methane, water-saving strategies from ConAgra and Coca-Cola, and Campbell Soup’s energy efficiency measures are among sustainability success stories highlighted in a new report from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

The report, titled Environmental Success Stories in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry​, ​highlights ways in which major players in the food and beverage industry have used innovative technologies and strategies to reduce their environmental footprint.

The GMA represents more than 300 food and beverage companies, all of which were considered for inclusion in the report.

Among strategies singled out for inclusion, Kraft Foods​ was praised for choosing to locate one of its refrigerated-storage facilities underground in natural limestone caves below Springfield, Missouri.

“This location takes advantage of natural insulation, allowing the site to use 65 percent less energy than conventional storage facilities,”​ the report said.

In addition, because the site is large and centrally located, the company says it has saved 1,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, 180,000 gallons of fuel and one million miles of truck travel each year.

General Mills​’ biomass-powered plant in Fridley, Minnesota was highlighted for its use of leftover oat hulls. It produces 90% of the steam required for heating and flour production at the plant to make Cheerios and other products, according to the report. Apart from generating electricity and reducing the plant’s carbon footprint, the report says that General Mills also saves nearly $400,000 a year through burning the oat hulls.

The Campbell Soup Company ​employed multiple strategies to save $500,000 in electricity costs at its Sacramento, California plant. Projects included installing a utility metering system, recycling, installing energy saving lighting, and lower-flow water nozzles, and resulted in 4.85% less electricity consumption per pound of product, and 13.45% less water use. It also saved 860 tons of waste, the report said.

Among other companies’ efforts, Cargill ​reused methane at most of its meat plants, and used the biogas to provide 20-25% of natural gas demand at its North American beef processing plants; Nestlé USA​’s beverage manufacturing facility in Freehold, New Jersey used spent coffee grounds to make fireplace logs; ConAgra ​developed a way to capture water from its tomato-pastemaking process at its Helm, California facility to supply its boilers, cooling towers and tanks; and PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company ​and Unilever​ were all singled out for their water management strategies.

GMA president and CEO Pamela Bailey said: “Food, beverage and consumer products companies have a longstanding commitment to improving the lives of consumers, and that includes environmental stewardship. This report showcases not only the considerable progress GMA members are making towards greener facilities, supply chains and products, but also the innovation and creativity that has made this progress possible.”

Produced in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the report focused on companies’ innovation in system or product design; a quantifiable return on investment; engagement or collaboration with external stakeholders; and reduction or improvement in efficiency of environmental factors.

The report is available online here​.

Related topics: Markets, Sustainable sourcing

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