Kraft waste-to-energy projects have resulted in cutting natural gas purchases at manufacturing facilities in Lowville and Campbell, New York.
“This is a time of opportunity for us,” said Steve Yucknut, Kraft’s Vice President, Sustainability. “Our customers want to do business with partners who support sustainability. Consumers want to buy products from companies that ‘get it’ and employees want to work for companies that respect and preserve the world around them. So, we’ve increased our focus on sustainability because it’s the right thing to do and it makes good business sense.”
The Kraft plants in Lowville and Campbell are using bio-methane from on-site waste treatment systems to replace 30-35 percent of each plant’s annual natural gas purchases in a year. Whey, one of the most significant waste byproducts from cheese plants, is the source of the alternative energy, which is created when whey is treated in each plant’s anaerobic digester system.
“Whey disposal has long been a challenge,” Yucknut said. “Our facilities have previously used strategies such as concentrating the whey to reduce volume and finding outlets for it to be used as animal feed, or for fertilizer on environmentally approved farm fields. Both methods required transporting the whey offsite. Now, we’re reducing the associated CO2 emissions that are part of transporting waste and discharging cleaner wastewater from our on-site treatment systems.
Both systems were designed, built and operated for Kraft by Ecovation, Inc., now part of Ecolab. The Lowville waste treatment system came online in February, 2008. Campbell’s first digester was built in 2003, and has been expanded five-fold. It is expected to be fully operational by the end of September.
Kraft’s Lowville plant, which makes Philadelphia cream cheese, has approximately 330 employees. Kraft’s Campbell plant makes Polly-O Italian-style cheeses and Kraft and Polly-O string cheese and employs more than 400.