ConAgra Sustainability Report: Normalized Water Use Creeps Up
In financial year 2012, the company used 0.683 gallons of water per pound of food produced, up from 0.677 gallons in 2011. The 2012 figure is ConAgra’s highest since 2008 levels, when it used 0.702 gallons of water per pound of food.
The company’s overall water use increased from 49.9 to 50.7 million cubic meters year-on-year. The FY 2012 figure is the highest since FY 2008, the report shows.
ConAgra says that its manufacturing facilities rely on access to clean water to operate, prepare food on a commercial scale and ensure that equipment meets food safety and quality standards. About 40 percent of the water the company uses is recycled and used as irrigation at farms local to ConAgra’s facilities, the report says.
The company says that it is essential for the company to understand the differences between how water is used in the manufacture of all of its food products if it is to tailor specific water-saving processes to each product.
ConAgra’s Russellville, Ark., facility took action against water leaks by establishing a systematic process of identifying leaks and documenting the repair work. Armed with little blue tags, company “Drip Spotters” identified and repaired 188 water leaks in the first six months, conserving more than 188,000 gallons of water, the report says.
The company’s absolute scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions rose 0.8 percent year-on-year, from 1,888,482 to 1,903,765 metric tons, but its normalized emissions stayed static at 0.214 pounds of carbon per pound of food production. Since 2008, which is the first year the report provides figures for, ConAgra has reduced it total scope 1 and 2 emissions by 3.8 percent, the report says. Its carbon intensity has dropped 1.7 percent over that time period.
About 95 percent of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the use of natural gas and electricity. The company says that it is currently targeting increasing efficiencies in those food products that are the most energy-intensive.
To continue to drive progress toward its greenhouse gas reduction goal of a 20 percent reduction by 2015 over 2010 levels, ConAgra has begun to include business unit greenhouse gas reduction targets in management performance appraisals. The company is also integrating greenhouse gas reduction strategies into site master planning processes, the report says.
ConAgra’s scope 3 emissions fell 1.1 percent year-on-year, from 552,562 metric tons in FY 2011 to 546,655 in FY 2012, the report shows.
The company surpassed its 2015 waste goal of diverting 75 percent of its solid waste from landfill. In FY 2011 the company improved the diversion rate to 91.1 percent and decreased the amount of waste it produces per pound of food it creates, from 0.125 pounds in FY 2011 to 0.120 pounds in FY 2012. The company’s total waste generation dropped almost 4 percent year-on-year, from 1,218,194 tons in FY 2011 to 1,171,631 tons in FY 2012.
Unwanted ConAgra food is donated to feed people, used as animal feed, used to generate energy or applied to land as a soil amendment.
In FY 2012 an employee at a David Seeds facility sourced an outside vendor who could reuse unsaleable roasted seeds and packaging film, the facility’s two largest landfill streams. The success in diverting these two material streams increased the David Seeds facility’s landfill diversion rate from 22 percent in FY 2011 to 84 percent in FY 2012 and prevented more than 400 tons of materials from being sent to the landfill, the report says.
In September, ConAgra announced that by 2017 it expects all of its suppliers to produce action plans aimed at eliminating gestation crates for sows. Such cages measure about two feet by seven feet – too small for the sows to turn around. The company said the phase-out could take “up to 10 years.”
In April, the company announced that entries to its internal 2012 Sustainable Development Awards collectively reduced carbon emissions by more than 43,600 metric tons. Projects entered also eliminated 61,000 tons of landfill waste and 4,800 tons of packaging material, conserved 295 million gallons of water and delivered more than $28 million in savings, the company said.
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