Taking sustainability seriously, the employees throughout Kraft Foods have turned waste products into energy and, in turn, saving more than just the environment. The challenge presented to the employees was to reduce net waste by 15% by 2011. This aggressive waste reduction goal was exceeded beyond the company’s belief: over the last 4 years, Kraft has reduced net waste from manufacturing plants by 30%.
“Employees took our aggressive waste reduction goal and ran with it,” said Steve Yucknut, Vice President, Sustainability. “Not only did they meet our goal two years early, they simply crushed it by doubling our performance with a 30 percent reduction. Their enthusiasm has made a huge impact. In fact, we now recycle or reuse 90 percent of our manufacturing waste.”
How did they do it? Here are some examples of re-using waste from manufacturing:
• In the Lowville, NY plant that manufactures Philadelphia Cream Cheese, the waste from production (the whey) is turned into a biogas that feeds the furnaces supplying 30% of the power needed for the plant. Cool.
• In the Allentown, PA plant that manufactures Grey Poupon mustard, 5 million pounds of mustard seed hulls are repurposed as animal feed instead of being sent to a landfill. Neat.
• In Austria, Kraft Foods’ Vienna coffee plant creates about 250 tons of chaff – or coffee bean husks – each year. Last year, the plant started sending chaff to a biomass power plant, creating enough renewable energy to heat about 250 typical homes for a year. Nifty.
In addition to repurposing food manufacturing wastes, the Kraft employees have taken to heart recycling and reducing solid waste materials like paper and cardboards to become zero-waste-to-landfill facilities. Nine Kraft Foods facilities have achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status: three Canadian plants (Mississauga, Oakville and Scarborough, Ontario); five U.S. plants (New Ulm, Minn.; Fair Lawn, N.J.; Philadelphia and Allentown, Pa.; and Suffolk, Va.); and a U.S. distribution center (Bethlehem, Pa.). In Europe, most of the company’s plants are essentially net waste free, and elsewhere, many plants have made significant reductions through partnerships to put waste to work.