General Mills Cuts Solid Waste, Behind on Other Targets

by | Apr 15, 2010

GeneralMillsGoalsGeneral Mills has cut its solid waste generation rate by 24.5 percent since 2005, which exceeds its goal of 15 percent, according to the company’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility report (PDF). The company is also making progress on its five-year goals in the areas of water usage, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions.

On the other hand, the company is behind on reaching other targets. The company has cut its water consumption by 2.2 percent since 2005, which is nearly halfway to meeting its 5 percent reduction goal by 2011. However, meeting energy consumption and GHG emission reduction goals has been more challenging, which General Mills attributes to a change in product mix. All of the greenhouse gases produced by the company’s manufacturing plants are derived from energy usage.

Energy consumption and GHG reduction rates are 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. This is short of the company’s goal to achieve 15 percent reductions by the end of fiscal 2010.The company expects the systems now in place will produce greater reductions in the future.

The 2010 CSR report is divided into three sections: health, community and environment.

Here are some environmental highlights.

The company is using leftover oat hulls from making Cheerios to fuel a power plant near Minneapolis that has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. The company plans to expand the program to its mill in Fridley, Minn.

General Mills also uses 40 percent less plastic in the packaging for its Betty Crocker Warm Delights desserts, which helped the company reduce its solid waste generation rate.

By switching to an electricity provider that only uses natural and renewable sources, General Mills’ San Adrian facility in Spain is getting 100 percent of its electricity and one-third of its energy overall from renewable sources. The shift saves $175,000 per year in costs and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 6,000 tons.

The company is also working on energy reductions. As an example, a new computer-based transportation system has helped General Mills save more than 7 million gallons of fuel so far in fiscal 2010, which is a 16.7 percent reduction over fiscal 2009. The company’s new virtual collaboration system has cut its global airline trips by about 9 percent, which has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 1.5 million pounds.

General Mills’ southern California cold storage facility reduced its electricity use by 27 percent after the company installed a new refrigeration control system in 2009, saving more than a million kilowatt hours last year.

The company is also building a new distribution center in Georgia that is expected to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

General Mills has been named to many corporate responsibility rankings over the past year including Newsweek’s 100 Greenest Companies in America, Corporate Responsibility magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens, and Ethisphere Institute’s World’s Most Ethical Companies.

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