Pilot Program Saves Sealy, Primedia and US Foodservice $16.4M

Pilot Program Saves Sealy, Primedia and US Foodservice $16.4M

Sealy, Primedia and US Foodservice took part in a pilot program last year that uncovered millions of dollars in savings from reducing waste, fuel, paper and energy use. 

Primedia, for instance, saw its bottom line grow by nearly $3 million by cutting more than 3,000 tons of paper from its operations. US Foodservice saved $8.2 million in 2008 by using less fuel in its fleet. Meanwhile, Sealy eliminated 650 tons of solid waste from its manufacturing processes, netting the company more than $4 million it would have spent on materials.

US Foodservice, Primedia and Sealy collectively saved $16.4 million through their participation in the pilot phase of the Green Portfolio Partnership, a program launched by Environmental Defense Fund and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

The partnership launched in May but the organizations first spent time developing a list of major environmental issues they wanted to address, including greenhouse gas emissions, waste, water, forest resources and priority chemicals. Actual work with the companies only lasted about six months but yielded more than $16 million in savings.

EDF and KKR are now working on a set of best practices that will be released in the fall through the EDF Innovation Exchange. Sungard, Accelent, HCA, Biomet and Dollar General are poised to participate in the program next, with plans to extend the program across KKR's U.S. portfolio.

Some of the companies had previously decided to improve certain areas of their operations but had no processes in place to determine baselines or measure progress, according to Gwen Ruta, EDF vice president of corporate partnerships.

"We brought a focus and a framework that helped to move things along and understand what it meant to be doing all of this," Ruta said, adding that the program only scratched the surface of the efficiencies that can be achieved.

US Foodservice, Primedia and Sealy plan to build on their work with EDF and KKR and find more opportunities to save money. US Foodservice, which improved the efficiency of its fleet by 4 percent, wants to boost productivity even more by both identifying new initiatives and focusing on efforts that worked, such as automatic idle shutoff, driver education and maximum speed controls.

Primedia, which improved paper efficiency 22 percent, will redesign publications, boost recycling programs and increase online opportunities to further reduce paper consumption by an additional 20 percent. The company will also explore consoildating offices and warehouses and strengthening sales and delivery routing to cut greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent.

Sealy slashed fuel costs by $1.2 million during the pilot program, in addition to the $4 million it saved from reducing waste in its manufacturing processes. Now it plans to target energy efficiency in its facilities, trim packaging and boost fleet performance by introducing new routing software and installing speed governors on trucks, among other initiatives.