Cargill Sustainability Report: 4.9% Drop in GHG Intensity Over 2 Years
Financial years 2011 and 2012 are the first two years of Cargill’s current five-year environmental goal cycle, due to finish in 2015. Its sustainability report does not provide figures for progress made in individual years. Cargill has a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas intensity by 5 percent over the course of the five-year cycle.
Renewable energy accounted for 13.5 percent of the company’s energy use in 2012, and contributed to the reductions in the company’s greenhouse emissions. Projects include a waste-to-energy plant being installed at a Canadian beef processing facility, which will increase the site’s ability to generate energy it uses in production by 80 percent. The new system will eliminate 21,000 metric tons of fossil fuel emissions annually and reduce the power the site brings in from outside by 1.4 MW, the report says.
A Cargill-funded biogas plant in South Korea turns livestock manure into energy through a fermentation procedure. The plant generates nearly 700,000 kWh of electricity per year.
In 2011, Cargill partcipated in the Carbon Disclosure Project for the first time. It earned a CDP score of 72, which is above the average score of 52 for all submitters, the company says.
Over the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years Cargill has improved its energy efficiency by 3.6 percent. The company hopes to improve its energy efficiency by 5 percent.
The company is currently partnering with two NGOs to set new industry standards on fuel efficiency for chartering vessels. Since June 2012, Cargill has been evaluating the fuel efficiency of each ship it uses, as part of the decision making process it uses to charter vessels. The company carried about 190 million metric tons of commodities on chartered vessels in 2011, and is now moving some of those charters away from the lowest-rated ships to vessels that operate more sustainably.
The company’s third goal is to increase its freshwater efficiency by 5 percent in the five years to 2015. Through fiscal 2011 and 2012 the company increased its freshwater efficiency by 4.8 percent.
The company is working in cooperation with the government in China, where agricultural irrigation accounts for about 60 percent of the country’s water consumption, on projects aimed at improving farm irrigation in rural areas. The company hopes that these projects, which include setting up best practice demonstration farms, will improve yields by 20 percent, reduce waste by 10 to 15 percent and conserve water. Cargill also says the projects help farmers in drought-hit regions such as Henan, Sichuan and Xinjiang provinces.
In Germany the company has built a water treatment system that uses technology including ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis at one of its plants. The system allows most water used on site to be collected, purified to drinking water quality and reused in steam boilers, cooling towers and to steep barley, the report says.
Since 2004, Cargill and the Nature Conservancy have worked in Brazil to protect rainforests through encouraging more sustainable soy farming practices. To date, Cargill says it has helped 412 farms covering 132,000 hectares of land. The company is extending the program to cover an additional 15 million hectares, the report says.
A worsening drought in the Midwest this summer has pushed corn prices to a record high, forcing meat producers to pay more for feed and squeezing profits at Cargill, along with other companies. Cargill CEO Greg Page and livestock industry groups have urged the US government to temporarily curb its quotas to produce corn-based ethanol fuel, Reuters reported. Last year, nearly 40 percent of the US corn crop went into making ethanol.
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