Solid waste is simply the result of wasted resources, representing an opportunity for further efficiency in our operations. Our continuous improvement program — based on a “zero loss” philosophy — drives maximum use of all of our material resources. Nearly all solid waste generated at our manufacturing facilities consists of food (>80%) and packaging materials and much of it could be more aptly characterized as by-products vs. wastes. By re-setting the tone of how we talk about these materials, we can begin changing attitudes and behaviors in our facilities to better manage them for value.
In fiscal year 2010, ConAgra Foods set a goal of diverting at least 75 percent of all the solid waste we generate from landfills by 2015. By fiscal year 2013, we had already achieved a diversion rate greater than 93% by increasing donations to feed hungry people, improving processes to allow byproducts to be used as animal feed, increasing use of technologies such as anaerobic digestion to recovery energy and increased composting and land application for soil amendment. We are very proud of the accomplishment to significantly surpass the original goal. On our journey to zero waste, we have created a Zero Waste Champion award for our facilities that have achieved a diversion rate of >95%. We currently have 20 manufacturing plants that have earned this distinction and several of them are truly at zero waste to landfill.
Our goals for 2020 are now moving more towards source reduction of wastes generated, particularly organic wastes. Specifically, ConAgra Foods is committed to avoiding waste generated at our production facilities by one billion pounds through improved material utilization. At the same time, we remain focused on keeping materials out of landfills, directing them to the most beneficial reuse as we pursue imaginative ways to donate, reuse and recycle materials.
1 billion cumulative pounds by 2020
Integration of Ralcorp into the ConAgra Foods business is one of the largest areas of opportunity to improve practices and reduce wastes. One specific opportunity is to integrate our working relationship with Feeding America to standardize our donation practices, sharing best practices and leveraging existing relationships.
Start and delivery dates: Begin integration of donation practices during Fall of 2013, to be completed by end of 2014.
Educate employees regarding the EPA Food Waste Recovery Hierarchy. ConAgra Foods has been using the hierarchy for several years in decision-making, but it is not, yet, widely understood. We have developed some training tools to explain the hierarchy and how moving up the hierarchy can result in business value.
Start and delivery dates: Training began Summer 2013 and will be available ongoing to new employees in our orientation tools.