ConAgra Sustainability Report: Normalized Water Use Creeps Up

by | Oct 10, 2012

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ConAgra Foods’ normalized water use increased 0.88 percent between the 2011 and 2012 financial years, according to the company’s latest corporate sustainability report.

In financial year 2012, the company used 0.683 gallons of water per pound of food produced, up from 0.677 gallons in 2011. The 2012 figure is ConAgra’s highest since 2008 levels, when it used 0.702 gallons of water per pound of food.

The company’s overall water use increased from 49.9 to 50.7 million cubic meters year-on-year. The FY 2012 figure is the highest since FY 2008, the report shows.

ConAgra says that its manufacturing facilities rely on access to clean water to operate, prepare food on a commercial scale and ensure that equipment meets food safety and quality standards. About 40 percent of the water the company uses is recycled and used as irrigation at farms local to ConAgra’s facilities, the report says.

The company says that it is essential for the company to understand the differences between how water is used in the manufacture of all of its food products if it is to tailor specific water-saving processes to each product.

ConAgra’s Russellville, Ark., facility took action against water leaks by establishing a systematic process of identifying leaks and documenting the repair work. Armed with little blue tags, company “Drip Spotters” identified and repaired 188 water leaks in the first six months, conserving more than 188,000 gallons of water, the report says.

The company’s absolute scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions rose 0.8 percent year-on-year, from 1,888,482 to 1,903,765 metric tons, but its normalized emissions stayed static at 0.214 pounds of carbon per pound of food production. Since 2008, which is the first year the report provides figures for, ConAgra has reduced it total scope 1 and 2 emissions by 3.8 percent, the report says. Its carbon intensity has dropped 1.7 percent over that time period.

About 95 percent of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the use of natural gas and electricity. The company says that it is currently targeting increasing efficiencies in those food products that are the most energy-intensive.

To continue to drive progress toward its greenhouse gas reduction goal of a 20 percent reduction by 2015 over 2010 levels, ConAgra has begun to include business unit greenhouse gas reduction targets in management performance appraisals. The company is also integrating greenhouse gas reduction strategies into site master planning processes, the report says.

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