Food marketing and distribution firm Sysco’s energy use in its facilities dropped 6 percent from 2011 to 2012, while the volume of products in its warehouses increased 1.2 percent over the same time period, according to the company’s latest sustainable report.
In financial year 2011, the company used 621 GWh, compared to 601 GWh in FY2012, according to the report, which Sysco says is its most comprehensive to date.
Since 2006, the company’s overall energy usage in its facilities has decreased by 19 percent. Sysco’s warehouse volume increased 18 percent over that period.
The company operates more than 100 warehouse and redistribution centers. These facilities consume a significant amount of energy through the use of forklift and pallet trucks, lighting, air conditioning and refrigeration. Since 2006, Sysco’s energy management program has been chiefly responsible for improved warehouse efficiency and energy use. The warehouses’ energy intensity has improved 35 percent since the program began, the report said.
During the expansion of its Broadline facility in Vancouver, Canada, Sysco worked with Cascade Energy, its energy management partner, to improve the efficiency of refrigeration units, controls, freezer and cooler doors, and lighting in both existing and new parts of the building. During the expansion, the facility’s square footage increased by 78 percent, yet energy consumption was reduced by 15 percent, earning a finalist nomination for the 2012 BC Hydro Power Smart Excellence Award.
Sysco has set a target of an annual one percent reduction in energy use through FY2015. The company says it is currently evaluating additional measures that could add to this savings target.
During FY2012, Sysco added 55 low-emission liquid natural gas trucks to its fleet, bringing the total number in the fleet to 165. Since January 2010, the company purchased more than 2,300 clean diesel trucks with low emission engines approved by the EPA.
Sysco’s attempts at efficient routing increased the number of cases delivered per mile in its US Broadline companies by two percent in FY2012. Sysco also improved the load fill rate of trucks carrying product to Sysco by 180 pounds per truck in FY2012, resulting in 1,400 fewer trucks on the road, compared with the previous year.
In FY2012 the company moved more than 10,000 intermodal shipments, a 17 percent increase from FY2011. Intermodal shipments are a more energy-efficient means of transportation that just using road deliveries.
As a major purchaser of food, Sysco can influence the practices of many food companies. In 2004 the company started its Integrated Pest Management program, which works with participating farmers to protect environmentally sensitive growing areas, soils and water sources by encouraging responsible use of fertilizers and pesticides and the use of cover crops, crop rotation and natural pest control methods.