ConAgra Foods, Inc., announced today the winners of its 2013 Sustainable Development Awards, an internal awards program that drives and rewards innovative approaches to sustainability and produces tangible business results. The 90 entries collectively:

  • reduced carbon emissions by more than 26,700 metric tons
  • reduced landfill waste by 23,000 tons
  • optimized and improved packaging while using 3 million pounds less material
  • conserved 646 million gallons of water

Additionally, the projects delivered more than $22 million in savings, demonstrating the economic value of the company's commitment to sustainability.

ConAgra Foods started the Sustainable Development Awards program in 1992 to encourage and incentivize employees to proactively look for ways to eliminate waste, reduce energy and conserve water through smart design. Winning teams are each awarded a $5,000 grant from ConAgra Foods to apply toward a sustainable community service project.

“Employee engagement, imagination and innovation played an even bigger part in this year’s applications,” says Gail Tavill, vice president, Sustainable Development, ConAgra Foods. “It reflects an ongoing evolution of ownership and commitment at every level in the company, further integrating sustainability into how we do business every day.”

2013 Winners

Climate Change & Energy Efficiency – ConAgra Foods popcorn facility in Rensselaer, IN

  • The facility’s newly formed Energy Use Reduction team improved efficiency through simple, low-cost changes fueled by employee engagement resulting in action.
  • The team’s grassroots efforts cut electricity use by 920,647 kilowatt hours, a reduction of 12% per pound compared to the prior year.

Water Resources: Conservation & Wastewater Management – ConAgra Foods Wesson Oil facility in Memphis, TN

  • Empowered by meaningful metrics that engaged all employees in conservation efforts, employees identified a flood of capital and procedural opportunities to reduce water use.
  • These employee-driven projects reduced the plant’s water use by 169 million gallons annually.

Solid Waste Reduction & Recycling – ConAgra Foods Helm, CA, tomato fresh-pack facility

  • Helm utilized a new technology to further separate seeds and vines from the rest of the tomato, increasing yield and product quality.
  • This process recovered more tomato fiber for use in paste and reduced waste generated at the plant by 20%.

Sustainable Business Innovation – ConAgra Foods Research, Quality & Innovation team in Omaha, Neb., and ConAgra Mills flour mill in Oakland, CA

  • ConAgra Foods Research, Quality & Innovation team improved the design of sauces for frozen meals; reducing complexity and simplifying ingredients. These changes significantly reduced inbound transportation and handling of ingredients and also resulted in a product quality improvement that reduced customer complaints by 23%.
  • ConAgra Mills piloted an innovative plastic flour bag at the Oakland, CA, flour mill, reducing materials and damage, improving pallets, and providing other customer benefits in a product category that has experienced relatively little change in packaging over time. The project optimized packaging material use by 417,000 pounds.

Award of Excellence – ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston Agricultural Services team in Kennewick, WA

  • The Agricultural Services team is leading the company and the industry in collaborating with potato growers on sustainable agriculture. A new practice-based assessment provides meaningful performance insight and actionable feedback for growers.
  • All of Lamb Weston’s white potato growers participated in the program in 2012, accounting for over 150,000 acres.