Managers from Sunny Delight and Mars Inc. discussed the topic of sustainability in production operations at Pack Expo. More…

Pack Expo brought together several notable panel discussions on the broad topic of sustainability.
In addition to a panel that combined consumer package goods and retailer perspectives  (see “Retailer, CPG panel targets  sustainability”), a separate panel comprising CPG managers from Sunny Delight (whose brands include Veryfine, Fruit2O, Elations, and Bossa Nova) and Mars Inc. discussed their views during a session entitled “Some Lessons Learned in Implementing Lean  to Green Manufacturing in Plants.” 

Participating were Amber Brovak, health, safety, and environmental manager for Sunny Delight Beverages Co.; Ellen Iobst, senior VP of manufacturing and technology for Sunny Delight; and David Prybylowski, sustainability program manager for Mars North America.

Iobst of Sunny D kicked things off with an overview of the company’s sustainability program-which, she noted, had the commitment of the company CEO-that uses as a guide the Global Reporting Initiative with a Level C goal for 2008-2009. The 2010 goal is Level B, she said. One of the company’s benchmarks was to achieve zero waste to landfills by Earth Day (April) 2010, which it achieved, Iobst stated. Current goals include 25% reductions in energy and water use. Over five years, it has reduced packaging use by 6 million pounds.

“I look to suppliers to bring ideas to me,” said Iobst. “I rely on suppliers a lot.” She also said the company made note of  which of its suppliers had some form of sustainability “scorecards.” She added that, after energy, the next big issue will be water use.

Achieving zero waste-to-landfill

Sunny D’s Brovak followed with further details on a program that has a sustainability leader and teams at each of the company’s six manufacturing facilities. Audits of gas, electric, and water use are conducted.
It took six months for all six facilities to reach the zero waste-to-landfill goal, Brovak said. That included “dumpster dives” to examine waste and assess reduction opportunities. “We’ve taken what was waste and turned it into a revenue,” she noted. “Our employees are excited about our sustainability efforts.”

Prybylowski explained that Mars’ approach was to “use brands as a way to encourage consumer participation in sustainability.”  He also noted that a lot of work has been done with “upcycle” company TerraCycle. Mars’ major goals are to reduce waste, carbon and water by 25% by 2015. Further down the road, the company plans to be carbon-neutral by 2040.

Mars divides sustainability reduction opportunities via improvements to operational efficiency (example: changing setpoints); infrastructure (boilers, insulation); process development (using less energy in manufacturing); and renewables. 

 “We found a lot of low-hanging fruit with fabulous payback,” said Prybylowski. A lesson he learned: It is beneficial to have a yearly energy budget. 

The company installed a 2-megawatt solar panel in New Jersey-the state’s largest-on otherwise unusable land adjacent to its Hackettstown plant. 

One thing that he said shocked him: The fact that the [expansive] McCormick Place exhibition complex, the host location of Pack Expo, did not use energy-saving fluorescent lighting. 

For a listing of notable supplier introductions from Pack Expo, see The best of Pack Expo.