ConAgra foods serves as one of the largest food companies in the United States. If you enjoy products such as Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn, Bertolli pasta or Snack Packs, you’ve enjoyed a ConAgra Product. While ConAgra has manufacturing facilities and sales offices across the world, they have a main office right here in Kennewick. ConAgra believes that we must adapt to changing climate conditions, “Adapting to [it] is much more about what we do than what we say. We have to change how we operate in light of how the climate is changing around us,” said Marcella Thompson, director of sustainability in ConAgra Foods’ Environment, Health & Safety Department.
Washington’s ConAgra Lamb Weston (its potato processing arm) voluntarily joined the sustainable business movement in 2010. (In fact, the Northwest Food Processors Association, of which ConAgra is a member, has been a leader in reducing carbon emissions since 2008.) ConAgra set a goal of diverting 75 percent of its waste from landfills. Once food waste joins a landfill, it produces greenhouse gases. The company met the goal early on and decided to set a further goal of zero-waste-to-landfill. ConAgra accomplished its goal by recognizing facilities making progress toward waste reduction. Seven of the 13 Lamb Weston plants that earned the “Zero Waste Champion Award” are located in Washington.
Washington’s Lamb Weston plants have achieved a 99 percent waste diversion rate. These facilities owe this success to continued efforts by facility ‘Green Teams’ seeking opportunities for improvement strategies in reduction, recycling and diversion while also recognizing the value of recovered material as a potentially profitable product. These ‘Green Teams’ rely heavily on employee involvement, and in fact, award employees who suggest ways the company could reduce waste.
Lamb Weston’s environmental efforts serve as an example of how to create a positive impact in Washington for other businesses. As a result of its efforts, Lamb Weston has reduced its carbon emissions by more than 7% over the past few years and is working towards a 20% reduction by 2020. Lamb Weston’s actions have helped drive down CO2 emissions in Washington. According to the latest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, emissions from the Industrial sector are now 21% below 1990 levels.
This doesn’t sound like a business that is burying its head in its fields, so to speak. It is leading the way in producing a future with lower carbon emissions in Washington and throughout the country.