Kraft Foods Announces Carbon Footprint after Multi-year Study

On December 14th, Kraft Foods shared their results of a multi-year study of the company’s total footprint on climate change, land, and water use. Kraft Foods, in partnership with Quantis Inc, was reviewed and analyzed by World Wildlife Fund and the University of Minnesota’s Institute of the Environment. The results, although not surprising, validated that Kraft Foods needs to  focus on working towards sustainable agriculture.

The results found that over 90 percent of Kraft’s carbon footprint comes from outside of their plants and offices – nearly 60 percent is from farm commodities, more than 80 percent of its land impact is from agriculture, and 70 percent of its water footprint comes from growing raw materials.

“Having the ‘big picture’ of our total footprint—from farm to fork—validates the focus of our sustainability efforts, particularly advancing sustainable agriculture,” says Roger Zellner, Kraft’s sustainability director for Research, Development & Quality. “Experts say climate change, land and water use may be among the biggest challenges in feeding a world of 9 billion people in 2050. As we continue our sustainability journey, we now have more insight into where we can make the greatest difference.”

“This study shows that to make meaningful change and conserve nature’s valuable resources, companies need to work with their suppliers to reduce the impact of producing raw materials,” says Dave McLaughlin, VP of Agriculture at World Wildlife Fund. “This means forging long term partnerships based on shared objectives, creating a transformational supply chain, a key strategy of WWF’s market transformation initiative.”

Kraft, which is the largest packaged food company in the country, said, “while the company does not own farms, the survey supports the work of its sustainable agriculture efforts on key commodities to improve crop yields, reduce environmental impacts and improve the lives of many of the farm workers and their families.”

The press release states that based on 2010 figures, Kraft Foods has set the following goals for 2015:

  • Increase sustainable sourcing of agricultural commodities by 25 percent
  • Reduce energy use in manufacturing plants by 15 percent
  • Reduce energy-related CO2 emissions in manufacturing plants by 15 percent
  • Reduce water consumption in manufacturing plants by 15 percent
  • Reduce waste at manufacturing plants by 15 percent
  • Eliminate 50,000 metric tons (100 million lbs.) of packaging material
  • Reduce 80 million km (50 million miles) from its transportation network

Although Kraft has a lot of work to do towards becoming more sustainable these next few years, they have already made significant progress  towards reducing energy, CO2 emissions, water, waste, packaging and transportation across its global operations.

  • Energy use is down 16 percent
  • CO2 emissions are down 18 percent
  • Incoming water is down 30 percent
  • Net waste is down 42 percent
  • Packaging is down 100,000 metric tons (200 million lbs)
  • 96 million km (60 million road miles) have been removed from its transportation/distribution network

After Centuries, Bananas Finally Get Packaging

The history of the banana goes back centuries but the fruit has never had its own packaging. Maybe it’s because a banana doesn’t need packaging? The banana skin itself is strong and biodegradable but has now, after all these years, been deemed insufficient.

Del Monte has come up with their individual plastic wrappers as packaging for bananas. Many people think it’s completely unnecessary because bananas don’t need packaging and adding the plastic wrapper is wasteful. Del Monte however, says the plastic banana package features “Controlled ripening technology” which extends the shelf life of the fruit. Further, this technology could actually reduce the carbon footprint by cutting back the frequency of deliveries. Plus, it’s recyclable.

It’s a very interesting argument. Tell us what you think. Is this banana wrapper necessary or completely preposterous?

Top 3 Green Companies

The act of going green is defined as the process of changing one’s lifestyle for the safety and benefit of the environment. People who decide to go green and take on an eco-friendly lifestyle consider the outcomes their decisions have on global warming, pollution, and other environmental concerns. Sounds simple right? Well if you are a business it may be harder than you think. Those who do decide to make their business practices green have the potential to make a big impact in helping save the environment. They also set a positive attitude for their company, differentiate themselves from competitors, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. Going green is an big process to tackle, but the end results are great.

One problem that arises when businesses decide to go green is green washing. Green washing is the practice of companies making unsubstantiated or misleading claims of the environmental benefits of a product or service. Those who rise above this maintain a good company name and brand, while also promoting eco-friendliness.

Here are the top 3 green companies that have made commitments to become sustainable companies:


1. Dell: Dell has made a commitment to transform their packaging by making it safe for the environment. They started by trying out different materials for their packaging. Dell worked with bamboo because it replenishes itself quickly. They also just recently turned to mushrooms as part of their cushioning for their server packaging. Mushrooms are grown, not manufactured, using less energy to produce the packaging. Dell has made many goals in becoming a sustainable company. They plan on reducing waste and making their packaging recyclable. They are constantly looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

2. Wal-Mart: The CEO of Wal-Mart decided a few years ago to make a commitment to becoming more sustainable. They decided to make goals of running their stores on 100% renewable energy, implementing a zero waste system, and redesigning products so they are more eco-friendly. Wal-Mart has been successful in meeting their goals and becoming a more sustainable company. They have drastically reduced its waste, cut down on packaging for the goods they sell, improved fuel efficiency, and monitored their suppliers carbon footprint. Wal-Mart has saved millions of dollars by going green, which has helped their business as well as the environment.

3. Waste Management: When you think of this company, eco-friendly probably is the first words that come to mind. But they are taking initiative to change that. Waste Management is no longer just a garbage company, but an environmental answer resource. They are taking charge and finding advances in technology to reduce waste, increase recycling and reuse, creating safer disposal options, and developing sources of renewable energy. They have also found a way to capture methane from landfills, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and has generated enough renewable energy to power 1 million homes. They are more than just a garbage company to 20 million customers and are continuing to find ways to protect the environment.

 

If these 3 companies can take the imitative to go green, so can others. These companies have done a great job at setting examples for other companies to hopefully follow.

Mold Turns Eco-Friendly

Dell has become a company that is dedicated to finding green alternatives for their packaging. They have announced that they will be using mushrooms as part of their cushioning for their server packaging. The brilliance behind using mushrooms is they are grown, not manufactured. This allows less energy to be used to produce the packaging. Mushrooms are also more dense, meaning they can support the weight of Dell’s servers and they can be grown quickly. The end result is an eco-friendly alternative for packaging that consumers can compost. Dell has already experimented with bamboo packaging in 2009 and will combine it with the new mushroom based packaging.

The process of conducting such a sustainable creation for packaging is very interesting. It is a fairly short process, lasting between 5 and 10 days. It starts out using agricultural waste products, mainly cotton. The cotton hulls are placed in mold and then implanted with mushroom spawn. It then develops into a root structure of a mushroom. They have tested and retested this new development in sustainable packaging and will pilot run it with its PowerEdge 710 server. If this test is proven to be a success, they will expand the mushroom packaging to their other servers.

Dell has many goals in becoming a more sustainable company. They plan to eliminate 20 million pounds of packaging material by 2012 and make sure packaging is recyclable. They have made an extraordinary accomplishment by finding a green alternative for their packaging. Dell also keeps working hard everyday, looking for other ways to reduce their carbon footprint and be a more environmentally friendly company.

PepsiCo’s Eco-Friendly Packaging

After seeing all the success Coca-Cola has had with their PlantBottle, PepsiCo has stepped up to the plate and has developed eco-friendly packaging for their pop. The green bottle they created is made entirely from fully renewable resources and significantly reduces its carbon footprint. The bottle is made from a combination of some materials you would never think could be put together to make a form of packaging. The raw materials include: switch grass, pine bark, and corn husks. Orange peels, potato peels, and oat hulls are on deck for materials to be used in the future.

This innovation from PepsiCo puts recycling up at a whole new level. The materials they are using to make the packaging are actually byproducts from its food business. So if you never believed that things could be recycled and reused to produce something else, there is now proof. The brilliance behind PepsiCo’s eco bottle is that they have combined biological and chemical processes to create a molecular structure that has the same look and feel of the standard bottle PepsiCo uses. The only difference is that the new bottle is fully recyclable and is made from environmentally friendly materials.

A pilot version of PepsiCo’s new packaging will be available in 2012. If successful, they will move directly into full production.

Odwalla is Planting Eco-Friendliness

Odwalla, maker of natural juices, smoothies, protein drinks, and food bars will be hitting shelves this March, but in a greener fashion. Odwalla will be transitioning from their traditional packaging to the PlantBottle. This new bottle is made of 100% plant-based materials and is 100% recyclable. It also consists of materials derived from molasses and sugarcane juice. The goal with this new Odwalla packaging is to reduce dependence on nonrenewable resources. Coca-Cola, along with many others have replaced their traditional packaging with the PlantBottle, in an effort to make their packaging more eco-friendly.

The PlantBottle is just another step Odwalla has taken to become a more sustainable company. They have created an organization called Plant a Tree Program, which has planted more than 300,000 trees in the last 3 years. They also developed Bloom Energy Fuel Cell technology which reduces Odwalla’s carbon footprint of its plant by 35%. The PlantBottle, along with their other green innovations are helping to reduce their dependence on nonrenewable resources.

Recycling at the Office Taken One Step Further….Composting

Offices all over the country have taken an effort to participate in recycling. Many offices use bins for aluminum, plastic, and paper, however some have taken it one step further and ventured into what is called composting. Composting is a biological process where organic materials are broken down and nutrients and minerals are released. This process combines air, water, carbon, and nitrogen that develop a synergy to make the whole process work.

The average employee of a company creates about half a pound of compostable waste each day. This amount is equivalent to the weight of a loaf of bread. Medium to large companies can save and profit from implementing a composting program to counter the level of waste being produced by their employees. There are two composting systems available for businesses to use that cuts out the smell that is usually associated with composting.

The first method is vermicomposting, also known as composting with worms. Although this sounds rather gross, it is actually the most beneficial for composting food waste and is an ecologically safe method to naturally convert many organic wastes. Vermicomposting is the process of having red worms and other decomposer organisms process organic waste and turn it into natural fertilizer. It is very easy and requires few supplies. The second method is to purchase a traditional composting bin or tumbler. The bins or tumblers can maintain relatively high temperatures and act like insulation. They continuously turn which keeps the microbes aerated and active. These bins are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. They also come in may different sizes and shapes that can be suitable for your office environment.

Composting at the office allows the business to take a step towards becoming a sustainable company. Composting is a very eco-friendly process because all organic matter eventually decomposes in nature. This is a win-win for companies who decide to implement such a program. They would be reducing their carbon footprint and helping the environment.

Set Goals and Measure Your Environmental Progress

If you’re like most people, you keep hearing about companies going green to both please customers and help the environment.  It can be overwhelming to try to manage your company’s green efforts if you don’t have much experience, but even small steps towards becoming more environmentally-friendly can help.  That is why it is important to set goals for yourself and your company that you can achieve.

I found some tips and goals to benchmark your environmental progress from the marketing magazine, Deliver, that can help your company in its start to become more eco-friendly:

Paper Procurement & Use

think-green-environmental-progress-goals

  • Increase wood/paper purchases from recognized forest certification programs (by X percent by X year).
  • Indicate use of suppliers affiliated with sustainable forestry practices that protect forest ecosystems and biodiversity as well as provide the wood and paper products our company needs.
  • Increase purchase of environmentally preferable paper used for marketing pieces, product packaging, and/or internal consumption (by X percent by X year).
List Hygiene & Data Management
  • Reduce unwanted and duplicate mailings and provide greater choice regarding opt out and/or subject matter of mailings to customers (by X year).
Mail Design & Production
  • Reduce waste allowances and in-process waste when designing and printing (by X percent by X year).
  • Calculate total waste reduction occurred through a lowering of waste allowances.
Packaging
  • Increase purchases of environmentally preferable packaging (by X percent by X year).
  • Use recyclable packaging in (X percent/the majority of/all) shipments, imprinted with recycling information for customers (by X year).
Recycling & Pollution Reduction

recycle-environmental-progress-goals

  • Increase purchases of office papers, packing and packaging materials made from recycled materials with post-consumer content wherever feasible (by X percent by X year).
  • Use (X percent) post-consumer content recycled materials in all production (by X year).
  • Collect and recycle (X percent) of all discarded office paper (by X year).
  • Calculate your organization’s total carbon footprint (incorporating suppliers and customer as well as internal operations).
  • Reduce unnecessary/excess paper use for external and internal communications (by X percent by X year).