Food Service & Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Sustainability

Food plant earns Zero-Waste Champion designation

November 26, 2015
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Food plant earns Zero-Waste Champion designation
This 425,000-square-foot food plant in Battle Creek makes cereals for retailers. Courtesy ConAgra

A food maker has recognized a plant in the region as a Zero-Waste Champion.

Battle Creek plant

Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods said last week that it has recognized 34 facilities, including its Battle Creek plant, that have achieved the milestone of diverting more than 95 percent of solid waste from landfills through donation, reuse and recycling.

ConAgra’s Battle Creek plant spans 425,000 square feet and makes store brand cereals for national retailers and has implemented several zero-waste practices.

The plant has a recycling program, and it recycles more than 35 food and packaging materials that would otherwise be sent to landfills.

A representative from ConAgra said the Battle Creek plant’s nearly 200 employees are “highly engaged” in the program’s success, and the facility sees year-over-year improvement due to their commitment.

Year-five results

The ConAgra facilities recognized represent more than 80 percent of the company’s total waste generation and have helped the company achieve a 94-percent waste diversion rate in fiscal year 2015.

Gail Tavill, VP of Packaging and Sustainable Productivity, ConAgra, said this is the fifth year of the Zero-Waste Champions program, and he’s seen “impressive engagement” from plant employees.

“We will continue to work toward having all of our facilities reach this milestone,” he said.

Zero-waste strategy

ConAgra’s zero-waste strategy focuses on reducing the amount of waste generated in facilities and avoiding the creation of landfill materials by finding the most effective use for unavoidable wastes via donation, recycling, animal feed or other “value streams.”

ConAgra’s 2020 sustainability vision includes reducing waste generated by one-billion pounds, while maintaining its commitment to diverting valuable materials from landfills.

ConAgra Foods prefers the term byproducts rather than waste to encourage imaginative ways to donate, reuse and recycle materials.

ConAgra also said it earned a position on the S&P Climate Disclosure Leadership Index, which was released earlier this month in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s annual global climate change report. The company scored 99 out of 100 possible points, making the top 10 percent of companies in the index related to the disclosure and transparency of carbon emissions and energy data. 

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