Kraft Cuts Waste 30 Percent; Nine Plants Hit Zero Waste

NORTHFIELD, IL — Through a combination of recycling, waste-to-energy projects, composting and turning food scraps into animal feed, Kraft Foods has cut its waste by more than double its original goal.

Kraft was planning to cut net manufacturing waste by 15 percent by 2011, compared to 2005. The company has now cut its waste by 30 percent, recycles or reuses 90 percent of its waste, and has nine facilities that send no waste to landfill.

Five of those are U.S. manufacturing plants, one is a U.S. distribution center, and three are plants in Canada. Kraft also says that most of its plants in Europe are essentially free of net waste.

Some of the plants to most recently achieve zero-waste-to-landfill status did so by finding other uses for their trash. Kraft's Fairlawn, N.J., bakery became zero waste this February by collecting recyclables and sending non-recyclable waste to a local waste-to-energy generator. The company's New Ulm, Minn., plant also recently found a partner that hauls away waste to a local energy recovery facility.

Plants around the world have found various ways to cut down on how much waste they create or send to landfills. Kraft's Port Melbourne plant in Australia eliminated more than 125 tons of filler and label waste between 2008 and 2009 by making its peanut butter production line more efficient. A Tang plant in China realized that instead of sending sugar that didn't fit its recipe back to a supplier, it could send it to another Kraft plant in China that makes Halls. Back in the U.S., the company's Allentown, Pa., plant sends 5 million pounds of mustard seed hulls left over from making Grey Poupon to be used as animal feed instead of to the trash.

Two U.S. plants have even made their waste work for them. The Lowville and Campbell plants in New York dump whey (left over from making Philadelphia cream cheese and string cheese) into digesters that turn it into biogas that is then used in their boilers to provide heat, supplying about 30 percent of the plants' energy needs.

Kraft Cheez Whiz - CC license by Flickr user Retromoderns