General Mills made solid progress against its targets related to greenhouse gas emissions, solid waste and packaging in fiscal 2014. The company released its 2015 Global Responsibility Report, which outlines its approach to creating economic, environmental and social value in the countries where it operates.
In 2014, General Mills reduced its greenhouse gas emissions rate by 23 percent against a 2005 baseline, surpassing its goal to reduce GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2015. The progress is largely due to the use of renewable energy sources at its Yoki facilities.
The company reduced the amount of solid waste it generates by 41 percent in 2014 against 2005 baseline data, making progress toward its target to reduce solid waste generation 50 percent by 2015. In 2014, General Mills’ North American operations reused or recycled 87 percent of its waste. Recapturing value from waste has become a revenue source for the company, representing $10 million of net revenue in 2014 for the company’s North American operations.
General Mills exceeded its target to improve global packaging volume by 60 percent by 2015, achieving a 68 percent improvement. Packaging redesign generated the greatest materials and dollar savings.
Achieving targets in energy, product transport and water remain a challenge for the company. Energy reduction rates against the 2005 baseline were 10 percent in 2014, only half way toward its target of reducing energy use by 20 percent by 2015. Strong growth in products that require more energy to produce, such as Greek yogurt, have dampened energy reduction efforts.
Despite initiatives to offset transportation fuel use, winter storms, fluctuations to regional distribution strategies and softer product volumes decreased the company’s use of rail and intermodal. While the company reduced fuel usage by 22 percent in 2014 against a 2009 baseline, fuel usage increased 2 percent compared to 2013.
The company’s water usage increased 17 percent through 2014 against 2006 baseline data, putting the company off track to meet its target to reduce water use 20 percent by 2015. The increase is largely due to the high water use and cooling involved in yogurt production at Yoplait International, which General Mills acquired in 2012, as well the expansion of the company’s Greek yogurt business.
In 2014, General Mills announced global corporate policies on water conservation and climate change and is developing new environmental goals for the future, which it expects to release in the first quarter of fiscal 2016.