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Sara Lee CSR Report: Waste to Landfill Down 32% in Five Years

Sara Lee has reduced waste sent to landfills over the last five years by 32 percent by maximizing recyclable waste byproducts, according to the company’s annual sustainability report. The company also has reduced its water intake by 22 percent since 2005.

Here are some highlights from the Environment section of the report.

In fiscal 2009, Sara Lee established global environmental sustainability performance goals, using fiscal 2005 as the base year. The company has committed to cut energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 2 percent, and water intake 10 percent and waste-to-landfill disposal 12 percent, in 2012.

The company’s packaging goals include eliminating Bisphenol A (BPA) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from packaging, reducing the overall carbon footprint of its packaging, as well as increasing the percentage of post-consumer recycled content, the amount of recyclable materials, the compostability and biodegradability of packaging materials, the use of renewable materials in flexible and rigid packaging.

Sara Lee is one of several leading packaged food companies that use BPA.

Sara Lee also commits to reduce CO2 emissions from transportation as a member of the Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) Europe. The group has agreed to reduce CO2 emissions from transportation 20 percent by 2012, through activities such as combining trips, using empty return trips and aligning pallet sizes to boost efficiency when loading trucks.

Sara Lee North America Retail and Foodservice Transportation has reduced its carbon footprint by 3 percent in fiscal year 2010, representing 6,588 metric tons of carbon dioxide saved.

Sara Lee has implemented a number of fuel efficient processes to improve its MPG efficiency. These include implementation of trailer skirts, auxiliary power units and super single tires. These efforts have enabled the company to save 359,614 liters of diesel fuel translating into 1,151 metric tons of carbon dioxide savings.

Over the past year, Sara Lee also transitioned to fuel-efficient vehicles in its leased car program in North America, resulting in fuel economy improvements from 21.7 to 24.5 average miles per gallon within the first year.

The company is also working to reduce its energy consumption globally. As an example, a coffee factory in Grimbergen, Belgium, reduced its energy consumption 14 percent after implementing the actions identified after a recent energy audit.

Sara Lee also is looking at substituting or replacing the use of nonrenewable resources with processes that use a renewable resource. As an example, in Sara Lee’s coffee factory in Joure, the Netherlands, spent coffee grounds and biogas are the main energy sources for the factory’s steam boiler. By using coffee grounds and biogas as the main energy sources for the boiler, the Joure factory saves 40 percent of its natural gas consumption.

The Joure facility consumes about 13,000 metric tons of spent coffee per year to produce 60,000 metric tons of steam. This factory has shown energy savings of 23 percent since 2005. In the last fiscal year, energy consumption from roasting was reduced by six percent.

In February, Sara Lee said it had expanded its lead as the world’s largest buyer of UTZ certified “sustainable” coffee, exceeding its own internal target of purchasing 26,500 tons in 2009.

The company also is transitioning its servers to more energy-efficient data centers with the help of HP. The first move was to transition its Mason, Ohio data center to data centers located in Alpharetta and Suwanee, Ga. This move alone resulted in a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report.

In addition, over the past two years, the company has replaced half of its computer fleet with more energy-efficient models and will have replaced 75 percent of them by the end of this calendar year.

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