August 2, 2011
by Eric Schroeder
Sustainability means many things to different companies, and over the past several years the number of businesses that have initiated global sustainability efforts has risen. For most, sustainability refers to efforts undertaken to improve the economic, environmental and social land-scape. Numerous companies now issue annual reports updating progress on a variety of initiatives with a sustainability slant.
Sunny Delight Beverage Co., Sherman, Texas, has spent the past three years on analysis and effort involving sustainability, and in some cases already has achieved its long-term goals. By early 2010, all six of Sunny Delight’s manufacturing sites had achieved their goal of zero waste to landfill — three years ahead of what the company had anticipated. As a result, during the past three years the sites have diverted 26 million lbs of waste from landfills.
Additionally, Sunny Delight recently invested $70 million to upgrade its entire supply chain and data systems, and acquired a plant in Sherman where the company plans to produce a new gallon bottle.
“Our new one-gallon pack-aging is a more environmentally friendly square bottle versus SunnyD’s iconic round bottle,”
said Ellen Iobst, chief sustain-ability officer and senior vice-president of manufacturing and technology at Sunny Delight. “We hope to prove that it’s ‘hip to be square’ because this new, consumer and customer-preferred bottle is manufactured and distributed using less corrugate, energy, water and waste. It even fits better on store shelves and refrigerator doors and it is easier to pour. As a result, we believe square is the new ‘green’ and that it represents a win-win for everyone.”
Another beverage company, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co., recently announced grants totaling $27 million to support 65 organizations in the United States and around the world in support of the company’s global sustainability initiatives.
“Our goal is to make a positive difference around the world, and we are making a difference through programs that create access to clean water, recycling, fitness and nutrition, and education,” said Ingrid Saunders Jones, senior vice-president of global community connections for Coca-Cola Co. and chairman of The Coca-Cola Foundation.
Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switz-erland, has been at the forefront of sustainability ef-forts for many years, and the company continues to look for ways to limit its impact on the environment. In mid-July, Nestle held a five-day workshop at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., that brought together academics, independent sustainability specialists and members of Nestle’s global research and development, brand communication and product design networks.
Nestle said the goal was to embed sustainability into designers’ thinking from the beginning of the design process.
“Sustainability is part of the overall business solution and something that designers must consider from the outset,” said Gordon Lane, head of R.&D. global industrial design for Nestle. “By using ‘life cycle assessment’ tools, developed in collaboration by our scientists at the Nestle Research Center in Switzerland, we have the opportunity to consider the total social and environmental impact of our designs. In this way, we are connecting science and design to responsibly support Nestle on a global basis.”
Among the new product designs Nestle has introduced in support of its sustainability efforts are a new Nescafe Dolce Gusto home beverage machine and new packaging for Nestle NaturNes baby food.
The home beverage machine — an update of the first version introduced in 2006 — makes coffee and a variety of other hot and cold beverages while creating 32% fewer CO2 emissions, using 41% fewer fossil fuels and using 25% less water from manufacture to the point of use than the original model. Nestle said it achieved the savings by incorporating an eco-mode function that allows machines to switch to automatic standby after 20 minutes when idle, as well as a lighter-weight water heating block made from 23% less aluminum.
In improving the sustainability of the Nestle NaturNes baby food Nestle said it replaced the glass pot in which the product was packaged with a more energy efficient plastic one to significantly reduce CO2 emissions across the value chain.
At Grupo Bimbo S.A.B. de C.V., Mexico City, two key events that occurred in 2010 are expected to change the future of the company. The first was the acquisition of Sara Lee North American Fresh Bakery. The second was groundbreaking on a 90-megawatt wind park in Union Hidalgo in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.
“This park will generate almost 100% of the power Grupo Bimbo requires to run its plants in Mexico and will be the largest in the global food industry,” said Daniel Servitje, chief executive officer. “It will diminish our environmental footprint and convert close to 50% of our global electricity consumption into renewable sources, while tempering the cost volatility associated with the use of electricity. This is an unprecedented effort in the use of renewable, clean and virtually inexhaustible energy.”