Sunnier days are ahead for a nearby consumer packaged goods company I visited last week that was making the move to solar power. More…


I toured a local consumer packaged goods company last week that was making the move to solar power. The company, Earth Friendly Products, hosted members of the media on a one-on-one basis.

EFP had just installed 312 of the 3 X 5-foot rooftop solar panels that were expected to be operational April 26 at its operations headquarters in Addison, Ill., one of five EFP production plants that are adding solar power. Here in the suburbs west of Chicago, EFP expects to have 60% to 70% of its electrical needs met by its solar panels for operations that include four side-by-side packaging lines.

Although its cleaning products manufacturing and packaging operation are outside the realm of food and beverages, the strategy is not-solar power is product-agnostic, so it doesn’t matter whether the plant is producing cleaning products, widgets, or Sun Chips.

As with all such visits, I learned a thing or two. One factoid was that solar panels work better in colder weather. Chicago has plenty of that.

Also, the angle of the tiltable solar panels is adjustable. This permits EFP to improve the efficiency of its panels by re-centering them seasonally on the sun path; that can reach up to a maximum 47-degree angle difference over a six-month period, according to online sources.

In any event, the move to sun power is a move in the right direction; in part due to government rebates and credits, the company forecasts a four-year payback, quicker if electrical rates rise.

EFP is not the alone. Nestlé Purina PetCare and PepsiCo, for its Frito-Lay SunChips, have also made substantial commitments to solar technology, to name two. A video about Nestlé’s 476-panel array at the Denver, Colo., plant, can be found here.

Even before EFP's solar panels had seen the light of day, management told me the company was looking at wind harvesting. Its journey to sustainability continues.

These environmentally friendly changes are also an aspect that these companies can and do tout in their marketing and flag on packaging-it’s a message that resonates well with consumers these days.

And as my dad likes to say, it ain’t boasting if you can back it up.