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Conagra Brands Celebrates Employee-led Sustainable Development Awards Program

Employee sustainability initiatives decrease the company’s carbon footprint, conserve water, reduce waste, and minimize material waste, generating nearly $25 million in company savings.

Conagra Brands Logo

In celebration of World Environment Day on June 5, Conagra Brands has announced the winners of its annual Sustainable Development Awards, an employee-led program that encourages the development and implementation of innovative ideas related to sustainable production and business practices. This year, employees from across the organization submitted more than 200 sustainability-focused projects that conserve water, reduce waste, and save energy.

The 2021 Sustainable Development Awards projects generated the following results on an annual basis:

  • Decreased the company’s carbon footprint by 90,100 metric tons
  • Conserved 64 million gal of water
  • Reduced waste by 12,300 tons
  • Minimized material use by 17.6 million

Sustainability initiatives are submitted by cross-functional employee project teams across seven categories: Sustainable Brands, Waste Reduction & Recycling, Water Conservation, Climate Change & Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Operations, and an overall Award of Excellence and People's Choice Award. All submissions are judged by a panel of company sustainability leaders and winners are selected by employee peers.

Award-winning employee teams help direct a total of $30,000 in grants from Conagra Brands to local sustainability-focused public service projects.

Conagra Brands’ 2021 Sustainable Development Award winners are:

Sustainable Brands: Birds Eye Packaging: Chicago and Omaha, Neb. Through innovation in packaging design, the team reduced the amount of plastic used in Birds Eye SteamFresh bags, avoiding use of 130,000 lb of plastic a year and saving $1.3 million in costs.

Waste Reduction & Recycling: Imlay City, Mich. At Conagra’s Vlasic pickle facility in Imlay City, the team eliminated 300 tons of waste by addressing glass jar losses by enhancing process settings, reducing bottle breakage by 35%.

Water Conservation: Macon, Mo. Conagra’s Macon team saved 9.9 million gal of water from projects identified through monitoring, awareness, and daily management practices, such as optimizing the water pressure in an automated sanitation system, impacting 9% of total facility water use.

Climate Change & Energy Efficiency: Menomonie, Wis. At the Menomonie facility, the team developed a comprehensive air and steam leak detection program, which allows the site to proactively maintain these leaks while equipment is running. The new program saved 366,800 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 208 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Sustainable Operations: Beaver Dam, Wis. The Beaver Dam team identified an opportunity to upcycle unused green beans to be repurposed in another vegetable product. The project has eliminated 438 tons of food waste, over 50% of the facility’s total waste.

People’s Choice Award: Milton, Pa. The Milton facility identified an opportunity to reduce natural gas and water use by installing a new heat exchanger, which heats the building. The new heat exchanger saved 14,000 dekatherms of natural gas, 744 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and 9 million gal of water.

Award of Excellence: Oakdale, Calif. At the Oakdale facility, maker of Hunt’s tomato products, the team implemented an industry-leading tomato sorting technology that redirected leftover ingredients to other products to reduce waste. The project resulted in a reduction of 8,500 dekatherms of natural gas, 449 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and 33 million gal of water annually, generating $550,000 in cost savings.

Read article   Conagra Continues Progress in Meeting Sustainability Goals

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