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5 sustainability success stories in the food industry

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association released the report “Environmental Success Stories in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry,” which highlights the green achievements by member companies in air, water and waste management. Here are a few of the inspiring case studies.

Saving energy with a multipronged approach

Campbell Soup saved $500,000 in utility costs with an efficiency initiative at a plant in California, where it reduced electricity and water usage per pound of product by 4.85% and 13.45% respectively, and total waste at the site was cut by 860 tons. The success was attributed to a metering system, a recycling program and lower-flow water nozzles. Another $500,000 will be saved each year using a heat-recovery system and a hot water generation system.

Cutting carbon through natural refrigeration

One of Kraft Foods‘ refrigerated-storage facilities is located in a natural limestone cave near Springfield, Mo., and it uses 65% less energy than conventional storage sites. The natural insulation is just one benefit — Kraft also has saved 1,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, 180,000 gallons of fuel and 1 million trucking miles each year.

Partnering with customers to green the supply chain

Saving 900,000 gallons of diesel fuel in 2009, Bumble Bee Foods makes the best use of its truck and container loads and uses intermodal transportation when available. By partnering with its customers, the food maker is able to arrange direct-from-plant deliveries and schedule customer pickup and fixed-day delivery, which decreases the number of trucks on the road. Another benefit: Bumble Bee avoided more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.

How waste becomes a valuable resource

A Nestle beverage-manufacturing site in Freehold, N.J., works with a fireplace log maker to avoid waste and save energy. Spent coffee grounds are made into fire logs, which create fewer emissions and also a stream of revenue for the food company. Another example: More than 88% of Kroger stores participate in the retailer’s Perishable Donations Partnership, which donates food that is beyond the sell-date but still safe to eat. Through this partnership last year, 33 million meals were donated to local food banks.

Rethinking processes to save water

Dole Food has reduced its water use by 90% in the remote areas of the Philippines with Mobile Banana Processors, which eliminated the need for pools of water to clean the fruit and completed the activities in the field. More cost-efficient processes, less noise and humidity and a lower overall carbon footprint were other benefits to the new process.

“Food, beverage and consumer products companies have a longstanding commitment to improving the lives of consumers, and that includes environmental stewardship,” said GMA President and CEO Pamela Bailey in a news release. “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.”

Share your company’s successes in the comments.