NORTHFIELD, Ill. — Water is an essential ingredient for creating delicious foods. But experts warn that it's becoming increasingly scarce. In fact, the United Nations suggests more than one in six people worldwide don't have ample access to safe water. So, the planet's water resources must be better managed. That is, use less, and use it more efficiently. Kraft Foods has been doing just that, and its efforts are paying off.
Over the past three years, Kraft Foods has reduced water used in manufacturing processes by more than 3 billion gallons (nearly 12 billion liters) - enough water to fill nearly 5,000 Olympic swimming pools. That's a 21 percent reduction since 2005, exceeding the company's goal two years early. "We're changing behavior and getting results," said Steve Yucknut, Vice President, Sustainability.
"Around the world, thousands of our employees are working on projects that help us reduce our environmental impact. We focus on manufacturing, since that's where we use the most water for internal operations. And we pay particular attention to water-scarce areas, where the need is greatest."
The company has success stories from locations around the globe:
AUSTRALIA: Port Melbourne plant recently won a prominent environmental award for identifying opportunities and taking actions to reduce potable water use up to 39 percent (20 million gallons/74 million liters per year). The project will reuse production process water and optimize clean-in-place systems for manufacturing equipment. Port Melbourne is working to find new uses for wastewater -- even partnering with a road construction group to reuse approximately 10 million liters per year for road compaction and dust suppression.
BAHRAIN: Cheese and beverage plant reduced water use by 33 percent (5 million gallons/18 million liters per year) by using alternative options to enhance the effectiveness of cleaning without compromising product quality. Now, product lines can run longer without interruption.
GERMANY: Fallingbostel cheese plant reduced water use by 7 percent (18.5 million gallons/70 million liters per year). The plant is now reusing its manufacturing process water -- instead of using the town's water -- to run the plant's cooling towers.
UNITED STATES — FLORIDA: Jacksonville coffee plant installed a closed-loop system to reuse water to cool coffee grinding equipment instead of using city water, helping it reduce water use by more than 35 percent (nearly 20 million gallons/75 million liters).
UNITED STATES — GEORGIA: Atlanta Bakery reduced water use by 33 percent (nearly 17 million gallons/64 million liters). Employees reduced the amount of water used for cleaning specific equipment and also eliminated unnecessary re-cleaning of equipment. They also changed cleaning procedures to begin cleaning before using water and repaired leaks at the facility.
UNITED STATES — ILLINOIS: The Champaign grocery plant reduced water use by nearly 20 percent (nearly 120 million gallons/450 million liters). Employees raised awareness about ways to reduce water use, fixed leaks and outfitted plant boilers and evaporating equipment to reuse well water instead of the town's water. In addition, at its corporate headquarters in Northfield, three lakes on the campus capture rainwater for reuse in handling half of the property's irrigation needs. And the building is cooled by ice -- recycled water is frozen at night, and fans push the cool air the ice generates into the offices.
As a food company, Kraft Foods relies on the ability of the earth to produce the raw materials used every day to make its products. Conducting business in a way that respects the intersection of environmental, social and economic responsibility is the right thing to do and it makes good business sense. With this approach, Kraft Foods is making a delicious difference and building a better world. For more details on the company's sustainability focus and progress, please visit www.kraftfoodsbetterworld.com.