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Cargill environmental goals

Cargill Sustainability Report: GHG Intensity Up Year-on-Year

Cargill’s greenhouse gas intensity rose 1 percent during FY 2013, against its 2010 baseline, according to an EL PRO analysis of the company’s last two corporate responsibility reports.Cargill environmental goals

In the latest report, covering FY 2013, the privately-held provider of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services reports a 3.9 percent improvement in GHG intensity versus the baseline. In last year’s report, Cargill reported a 4.9 percent improvement.

It is aiming for a 5 percent reduction in GHG intensity by 2015.

Environmental performance worsened along several other metrics last year. Energy efficiency was up 3.3 percent against the 2010 baseline, but down from the 3.6 percent improvement reported last year. Likewise, the 4.1 percent improvement in freshwater efficiency reported for 2010-2013 is below the 4.8 percent reported last year.

Cargill is targeting 5 percent improvements in each, both by 2015.

Renewables, on the other hand, increased. Renewable sources accounted for 14.2 percent of Cargill’s total energy use in 2013, exceeding the company’s 2015 target of 12.5 percent, and above the 13.5 percent reported last year.

Report overview 

The 20-page PDF report is light compared to those of similarly sized companies (Cargill has 140,000 employees in 65 countries). It offers few organization-wide environmental metrics. For example, the company does not report how much energy or water it uses, or how much carbon it emits.

The company says an “expanded version of the report” is available online, but this hardly provides any additional information. At times, the organizational choices seem odd. For example, the baselines for the metrics reported above all came from the company’s annual report – they are not included in the corporate responsibility report.

EL PRO considered both the PDF and online version of the corporate responsibility report in writing this analysis.


Cargill says it generates energy from 17 different renewable sources – though it only mentions a few of these.

The company has teamed up with TEVA Energy to install what it calls the largest solar energy system at a California meat processing facility. The Fresno beef processing plant will use solar energy to pre-heat water used for food safety and sanitation. The plant already captures nearly 30 percent of its natural gas requirements from methane, generated by anaerobic digestion at its onsite water treatment ponds.

Cargill also installed a waste-to-energy system at its beef processing system in High River, Alberta, which the company says is the largest such plant in Canada, handling 4,500 head of cattle a day. Between the plant’s waste-to-fuel and methane capture system, almost 80 percent of the facility’s energy needs will soon come from renewables, the company says.

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