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Cargill CSR: Falls Short of Energy Efficiency, GHG Intensity Reduction Goals

Cargill shows mixed results in meeting its 2010 environmental goals, according to the company’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report. The company improved its energy efficiency (per unit of production) by 11 percent, from its fiscal 2001 baseline, but was short of its 20 percent goal, and while it improved greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity by 1.5 percent from its baseline, it missed its 8 percent goal.

However, by the end of fiscal year 2010, Cargill obtained 11 percent of its energy from renewables, exceeding its 10 percent goal, and improved its freshwater efficiency six percent from its 2006 baseline, exceeding its two percent goal.

Cargill has set new environmental goals for the next five years. The company expects to improve energy efficiency, GHG intensity and freshwater efficiency, all by five percent, in 2015.

Here are some report highlights that shows how Cargill has reduced its environmental impacts.

Over the past five years, Cargill has developed projects that will generate an estimated 800,000 GHG emission credits by 2012. It also has committed to reduce absolute GHG emissions from its U.S. operations by joining the Chicago Climate Exchange, meeting every annual reduction milestone without purchasing offsets. In 2008, the latest reporting year verified, Cargill exceeded the 4.5 percent reduction target, achieving a 7.8 percent reduction.

The company is using biogas to reduce its carbon emissions across its global plants. As an example, at most of its meat plants, Cargill reclaims methane from its wastewater lagoons and uses the biogas to fuel the plants. Biogas now displaces 20 to 25 percent of natural gas demand at its North American beef processing plants, while reducing GHG emissions by more than 1.3 million metric tons over the past four years.

For example, at Cargill’s beef processing facility in High River, Alberta, Canada, it uses biogas from the wastewater treatment system to reduce both GHG emissions and natural gas use. Cargill sold more than 400,000 metric tons of emission offsets originating from this project through the Alberta Emissions Offset Registry in 2009.

In March, Cargill added an anaerobic digester on an Idaho dairy farm to help convert manure from 6,000 cattle into about a million kilowatt hours of electricity every month. It’s the company’s second digester on a dairy farm.

It’s also powering more facilities with renewable resources. As an example, Cargill’s complex in Uberlândia, Brazil, is using wood chips from fast-growing eucalyptus trees as biomass to power the site’s bioboiler. This process will generate 70 percent of the power and 100 percent of the steam at this location, resulting in a savings of 60,000 metric tons of fuel oil per year and reduced GHG emissions.

One of the company’s water conservation measures is to reuse water. As an example, at its poultry facility in London, Ontario, Canada, the company has reduced freshwater consumption by 28 percent in 24 months, partly because all of the water used for chilling at the facility is recycled twice for cooling and rinsing.

At Cargill’s beef plant in Plainview, Texas, United States, water is used up to three times — once for food safety, a second time for inedible uses and a third time when the treated plant water is released to farmers for irrigation.

Cargill is also turning corn into plastic. As an example, Frito-Lay is now using the world’s first 100-percent compostable bag made with Ingeo bioplastic, developed by Cargill-owned NatureWorks.

However, Frito-Lay is currently developing a next-generation compostable bag due to consumers’ complaints about the bag’s noise level.

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