Kraft's Recipe for Greener Mac-n-Cheese and Oreos

Kraft Foods wants to use less water, energy and packaging in the manufacture of its stable of well-known food products, including Oreo's, Ritz Crackers, Jell-O and its famous Macaroni and Cheese.

Kraft revealed last week several goals the company will work toward over the next five years, including a commitment from its European coffee brands that all coffee will come from sustainable sources by 2015.

"We're learning, improving and looking beyond our four walls for opportunities," Steve Yucknut, Kraft Foods' vice president of sustainability, said in a statement. "Our new goals will help us do more."

Kraft's new goals and past performance can only help the company weather the rise in the price of commodities used in its products, such as corn and other staples. Analysts last week hailed the company for staying ahead of commodities cost increases, largely by raising prices.

Agricultural commodities represent one area of focus for Kraft's sustainability goals. By 2015, the company wanted to increase sourcing of sustainable agricultural commodities by 25 percent. In the same time frame, Kraft wants to eliminate 100 million pounds of packaging material and scrub 50 million miles from its transportation network.

Between 2010 and the end of 2015, Kraft also plans to reduce by 15 percent:

• Energy use in manufacturing plants
• Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in manufacturing plants
• Water consumption in manufacturing plants
• Manufacturing plant waste

Kraft coupled the news with results of its environmental performance, including a 16 percent dip in energy over the last five years. Since 2005, Kraft has also reduced:

• CO2 emissions by 18 percent
• Incoming water by 30 percent
• Net waste by 42 percent
• Packaging by 200 million pounds
• Transportation network by 10 million road miles

Of course, a product's green profile loses credibility if it's just plain bad for you, especially when you consider that 1 in 5 people are either overweight or obese, according to Kraft. To that end, the company said it has launched since 2005 more than 5,000 "better-for-you" products -- those made with less sodium and calories or with more whole grains -- representing about a third of its portfolio.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user Like_the_Grand_Canyon.