General Mills: Environmental Sustainability
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, industrial and commercial energy use
accounts for nearly 30 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As a leading food company,
General Mills is committed to implementing new systems and procedures that will reduce the
company’s greenhouse gas emission rate. As a participant in the Carbon Disclosure Project,
General Mills is actively identifying ways to cut emissions throughout its supply chain by using
renewable power sources whenever possible.
Minimizing our impact
In fiscal 2011, General Mills achieved an 8 percent reduction in
its greenhouse gas emission rate from a 2005 baseline. Despite
consumer demand for products that require more energy to create,
General Mills has set a goal to reach a 20 percent greenhouse gas rate
reduction by fiscal 2015.
Essentially all of the greenhouse gases produced by the company’s
manufacturing plants are derived from energy usage. The company
uses natural gas, fuel oil and propane, as well as electricity generated
by various sources.
General Mills has made significant strides in reducing the company’s
greenhouse gas emissions by:
Streamlining air, sea and ground transportation.
Minimizing energy use at production plants, which cuts
down CO2 emissions.
Identifying new ways to use renewable power.
In fiscal 2011, General Mills:
• L owered greenhouse gas
emissions by about 10,000
educed total energy use
by more than 49 million
(fiscal 2010 baseline)
General Mills: Greenhouse Gases
Protecting our future
General Mills is committed to a
20 percent greenhouse gas reduction
rate from a 2005 baseline by the
year 2015. To reach this goal, the company is focused on
identifying and implementing new ways to reduce energy usage
through renewable power sources (e.g., solar, wind, biomass),
redesigning packaging so it is lighter and can be packed on
trucks with greater efficiency, and optimizing transportation
systems to reduce road miles and fuel consumption.
In late 2010, General Mills announced a new goal to reduce
the fuel used to ship a pound of product in North America by
35 percent by fiscal 2015. Achieving this goal would also reduce
the company’s greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent.
General Mills is producing energy from oat hulls left over from
the milling process at its Fridley, Minn., facility, which makes
oat flour used in Cheerios and other products. The biomass
burner produces 90 percent of the steam needed to heat
the plant and manufacture the oat flour, reducing the plant’s
carbon footprint by about 21 percent. General Mills’ oat hulls
are also burned by a local biomass power utility, generating
enough electricity to power 17,000 homes.
A team at General Mills’ plant in Covington, Ga., has installed
more than 40 energy meters on several pieces of major
equipment. The meters enable the plant to better understand
the impact of system changes using real-time energy
consumption data. Thanks to the energy meters and their realtime tracking abilities, the Covington plant saves an estimated
$2.5 million per year.
General Mills has implemented a strategy to regionalize its
transportation network as a way to significantly reduce the
number of “empty miles” (trucks in transit that are not carrying
product). Using a regionalization strategy ensures that trucks
are maximized in a given geographic area – trucks deliver
raw materials to a plant, pick up finished product at the same
location, then transport the product to a distribution center
or directly to a customer. This strategy optimizes network
efficiency and allows trucks to run in a continuous loop with
a high level of utilization.
Energy efficiency in Arras
Conserving energy is a priority at General Mills’ plant in
Arras, France. All suppliers are local, which results in fresher
ingredients as well as fuel savings and a smaller carbon
footprint. The facility also optimized its air conditioning system
to improve temperature control, ventilation and humidity,
saving 587 megawatt hours per year of gas and 824 megawatt
hours per year of electricity. Switching to LED lighting in
its cold storage area saved another 50 megawatt hours of
With guidance from General Mills, more and more farmers
from central Mexico are using organic compost from nearby
chicken farms – instead of energy-intensive synthetic fertilizer
– to spread on broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and celery. The
organic manure was used on about 4,000 acres in fiscal 2011.
The switch is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
by about 12,000 tons per year, the equivalent of taking 2,000
cars off the road.
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