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General Mills Sustainability Report: Beats Packaging Goal Three Years Early

General Mills met its 2015 packaging volume goal three years early, selling 52 percent of its product volume in packaging that it improved since fiscal 2009, according to the company’s 2013 Global Responsibility Report. The goal was for a 40 percent improvement.

Qualifying improvements under the goal include packaging weight, recycled content and recyclability, renewable and compostable content and truckload efficiency. The company says it achieved the vast majority of the improvements through weight reduction. In 2012, it introduced a new, 18 percent lighter Yoplait cup, saving 3,600 metric tons of plastic a year. 

General Mills has now set a new goal of a 60 percent improvement by 2015, from the 2009 baseline.

Report overview

In 2015, General Mills says it improved on all environmental metrics except water usage.

The company says it aligned its 2013 report with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, though it has not declared an application level.

The firm – whose products include foods under the Haagen-Dazs, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Green Giant brands – had worldwide sales of $16.7 billion in fiscal 2012.

Energy 

General Mills has reduced its energy intensity by 2.7 percent over 2011 levels, to 514 kilowatt-hours per metric ton of product – a decrease of 11 percent from FY2005. The company is aiming for a 20 percent reduction by 2015. It used 2.4 billion kilowatt hours of energy in its wholly owned production facilities in 2012. Main sources of energy included natural gas (54 percent) and electricity (45 percent).

In the US, General Mills says it is using a new process to drive energy efficiency in its Big G cereal sites, which account for more than 40 percent of its global energy use. In 2012 it added dedicated, energy-focused engineers at each of its Big G cereal production facilities and started to systematically analyze energy use at each plant and develop improvement plans. The company has piloted the approach at seven sites, and in fiscal 2013 will roll it out across other divisions. Participating sites improved their average annual energy use reduction rate, per pound of production, from 1.4 percent to 8 percent during the first six months of the initiative (May-November 2012).

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