Campbell Soup's Aggressive Waste Reduction Initiatives
Responsible waste management has always been a part of Campbell Soup Company's history and culture. “Condensing soup in 1897 was our very first waste management strategy, and we have been working on it ever since,” said Dave Stangis, vice president, public affairs and corporate responsibility.
As a way to integrate the company's environmental programs throughout its global business operations and ensure that these programs have the biggest impact possible, Campbell has established long-term destination goals and performance in six key areas: energy, carbon intensity, water conservation, waste management, sustainable packaging and sustainable agriculture.
“In terms of waste management, we employ a consistent hierarchical decision-making process for reducing, reusing and recycling waste generated in our operations to minimize the impact that our production has on the environment, while also reducing total costs,” Stangis said.
The company realizes that, in order to continue to advance its sustainability practices and meet its goals, it must have a sound environmental management system (EMS) in place. Over the past three years, the company has worked diligently to strengthen an EMS that applies to its manufacturing facilities and integrates environmental programs through its business operations worldwide.
At the core of the EMS is strong governance and oversight. Campbell's board and CEO have chartered the Sustainability Leadership Team to lead the company's sustainability efforts and climate policy. The team, composed of senior executives in charge of environment, supply chain, procurement, manufacturing, agriculture, packaging and logistics, drives climate change strategy for the company globally and was instrumental in establishing Campbell's 2020 Sustainability Goals, with each plant creating its own strategy operating plan to contribute to the overall goals.
“Our 2020 Environmental Sustainability Destination Goal began in 2008, when we set a goal to have a corporate solid waste recycle rate of 95 percent,” said Stangis. “Our 2007 rate was around 65 percent, and we knew we needed to improve on that.”
Other 2020 Environmental Sustainability Destination Goals related to waste include eliminating 100 million pounds of packaging from Campbell products, and delivering 100 percent of global packaging from sustainable materials (renewable, recyclable or from recycled content).
Campbell leverages the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Food Waste Recovery Hierarchy [www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/] to prioritize its food waste reduction efforts. Campbell actively participates on the Leadership Committee of the new [three-year initiative][http://www.greenretaildecisions.com/news/2012/07/26/on-a-mission-to-reduce-food-waste] launched by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute to help the industry reduce levels of food waste. “Efforts such as reusing food waste product as either an animal feed or compost have reduced the amount of waste we send to local landfills,” said Stangis.
In November 2012, Campbell announced a partnership with CH4 Biogas LLC to create [Ohio's first commercial biogas power plant][http://www.sustainableplant.com/2012/11/campbell-to-create-ohio-s-first-biogas-power-plant/] to generate renewable energy. Campbell will direct waste that is generated from its soup, sauce and beverage production in Napoleon, Ohio, to the anaerobic digester, diverting 35 to 50 percent of its current waste away from local landfills. This new biogas technology will improve the Napoleon plant's recycling rate to approximately 95 percent, reaching the company's 2020 destination goal for the site. “The use of biogas energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of electricity in this facility by approximately 16,000 metric tons per year,” Stangis said. Construction was completed in mid-2013.
Campbell's Advanced Battery Technology Team cut the number of forklift batteries being charged at its plants by more than 90 percent and improved battery life by more than 25 percent, thus achieving annual cost savings of $1.7 million.
Campbell's V8 Packaging Team eliminated the use of approximately 9,000 cardboard sleeves, eliminating a significant waste stream and saving approximately $230,000 a year.
“Redesign of plastic product packaging will save more than 1.2 million pounds of plastic and more than $850,000 through FY12,” Stangis said.
Current waste recycling programs focus on recycling food waste, corrugated paper, steel drums, office paper, plastic, fluorescent tubes, batteries, wood pallets and scrap metal. In addition, Campbell's Asset Recovery program recycled or reused almost 1.4 million pounds of used equipment and generated nearly $962,000 in sales revenue.
In 2008, Campbell generated 144,600 tons of solid waste. Of that, 94,000 tons was recycled and 50,600 tons was disposed of (a recycle rate of 64 percent). In 2012, the company generated 281,700 tons of solid waste, 240,700 tons of which was recycled and 41,000 tons of which was disposed of or used as fuel for resource recovery facilities (a recycle rate of 85 percent).
Since 2009, overall sustainability investments across Campbell's plant network have yielded savings of more than $42.9 million.