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Kraft Foods Announces Big Sustainability Goals for 2015

By Lesley Lammers

Kraft Foods, the packaged food and snack giant -- which includes such household brand names as Oreos, Triscuits, Ritz, LU, Maxwell House, Kool-Aid, Chips Ahoy, Jell-O, Cadbury products, Oscar Meyer, Nabisco, & Kraft macaroni and cheese products – announced this month that they will be increasing sustainability goals for the 2010-2015 period. In addition to their prior sustainability focus areas of energy, carbon dioxide, water, waste and packaging reduction, the company will add transportation and agricultural commodities to measurable fields.

Objectives highlighted for the 2010-2015 timeframe include:

  • Source 100% of European coffee brands sustainably

  • Increase sustainable sourcing of agricultural commodities by 25 percent

  • Reduce energy use in manufacturing plants by 15 percent

  • Reduce energy-related CO2 emissions in manufacturing plants by 15 percent

  • Reduce water consumption in manufacturing plants by 15 percent

  • Reduce waste at manufacturing plants by 15 percent

  • Eliminate 50,000 metric tons (100 million lbs.) of packaging material

  • Reduce 80 million km (50 million miles) from transportation network

According to a press statement, Steve Yucknut, Vice President of Sustainability at Kraft commented, "We're building upon our successes to date. We're learning, improving and looking beyond our four walls for opportunities. Our new goals will help us do more. For example, our increased focus on sustainable agriculture will further boost our scale to help accelerate long-range development in more communities and for more commodities than ever before."

Kraft Foods is the world’s biggest purchaser of cocoa, coffee and cashews and plans on reaching these new agricultural benchmarks by using third party certifiers such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and 4C Association. In 2010 alone, Kraft bought roughly 50,000 metric tons of Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, 11,000 metric tons of Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa, 19,000 metric tons of Fairtrade cocoa, and 24,000 metric tons of Fairtrade sugar.

They have also improved their animal welfare policy, which the Humane Society intends to applaud at Kraft’s shareholder meeting May 24, citing the company’s switch over to cage-free eggs as a major accomplishment.

More visible marketing of the company’s sustainability efforts can be seen in projects such as the Planters Nutmobile fueled by biodiesel and charged by solar power, which is on a national tour to teach the public about conservation. Another is an urban farming initiative by Triscuit aimed at supporting community and home gardens in food deserts across the U.S.

Kraft plans to meet their new goals by building upon the following declared achievements from 2005-2010:

  • Energy use is down 16 percent

  • CO2 emissions are down 18 percent

  • Incoming water is down 30 percent

  • Net waste is down 42 percent

  • Packaging is down 100,000 metric tons (200 million lbs)

  • 16 million km (10 million road miles) have been removed from its network

Veteran journalist Marc Gunther provides an interesting critique of the company’s assessment of their accomplishments in a recent blog post, “The trouble is, those gains are measured against Kraft’s ‘total production.’ So if the company sells lots and lots more stuff–which, of course, every company wants to do–it could end up generating more pollution, even as it becomes more efficient. That doesn’t do the planet much good.”

For a more detailed breakdown of Kraft’s sustainability goals, check out this fact sheet and keep an eye out for the company’s updated Responsibility Report to be released at the end of May…

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Lesley Lammers is a freelance sustainability consultant and journalist, focused on the intersection between the environment, food, social impact, human rights, health and entrepreneurship.

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