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Kraft Reduces Waste 30%

Kraft Foods announced that it has succeeded in reducing the net amount of waste it produces by 30 percent in the last five years, according to a company statement.

The Illinois-based food conglomerate said the achievement exceeds the company’s goal of reaching a 15 percent reduction below a 2005 baseline by 2011. Steve Yucknut, Kraft’s vice president of sustainability, said that the company now recycles 90 percent of its manufacturing waste. According to the statement, manufacturing waste represents the majority of Kraft’s waste output.

The company launched a partnership with global packaging and recycling company Sonoco in 2007 with the aim of substantially reducing waste in all of its plants. Kraft says its ultimate goal is to send zero waste to landfills.

While it has not yet achieved that objective for all sites, the company said 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, Kraft says most of its plants are essentially net waste free, and elsewhere, many plants have made significant reductions through partnerships to put waste to work.

Kraft’s Allentown plant achieved its zero waste goal earlier this year. The facility has reduced its trash pickup schedule from 328 times per year to only 52 (once per week) — an 84 percent reduction in just one year — through recycling, reuse and raising awareness.

According to Kraft, the plant had been sending nearly five million pounds of mustard seed hulls — a byproduct from making Grey Poupon mustard — to landfills each year. Today, the seed materials get repurposed as animal feed. Employees found a way to divert nearly 200 tons of material per year to a waste-to-energy facility, while the ash byproducts get used at a local cement factory.

Kraft Foods’ cheese plants in Lowville and Campbell, N.Y., offset about 30 percent of their natural gas needs by creating biogas through anaerobic digesters that turn whey waste – a regular byproduct of cheesemaking – into biogas. This reduces the amount of solid waste each plant produces and reduces non-renewable energy for use. The U.S. Department of Energy recently named the Campbell, N.Y., plant an “Energy Champion” as part of its 2010 Save Energy Now Award for implementing significant energy savings in their facility.

The company’s New Ulm, Minn., plant reduced waste by 40 percent over the past four years by fine-tuning their operations and changing behavior. In 2009 alone, the plant recycled 2.4 million pounds of cardboard, cores and paper. This year, the plant became zero-waste-to-landfill after finding a partner to send remaining waste to a local energy recovery facility.

Kraft recently reported that its Curitiba, Brazil, headquarters reduced its energy consumption nearly 10 percent in 2009 by just shutting down some elevators in the evening and using “team cleaning” schedules to reduce lighting use after business hours. The company also committed itself to purchasing 30,000 tons of sustainable cocoa by 2012, and achieved its goal of reducing 150 million pounds of material from its supply chain two years ahead of schedule.

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