Reducing Our Environmental Footprint
We have reduced our carbon footprint intensity by 2.6% over the past four years and by 16% since our baseline year of 2005.
From energy conservation to reductions in waste, we strive to reduce our environmental impact each year. We have faced a range of operating challenges over the past several years, but our commitment to continuous improvement has helped us confront them.
In 2015, we used nearly 3 million gigajoules (GJ) of electricity and natural gas – 2,966,440 to be exact – to process 7.7 billion pounds of milk. Given this scale of energy consumption, our efforts at conservation and efficiency improvements play a key role in the important work of shrinking our carbon footprint. In addition, we consume nearly 800 million gallons of water and produce more than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater, so our water conservation work is similarly critical in reducing our environmental footprint.
The short story of the past four years since our last CSR report is that we have continued to devote considerable time, effort and resources to environmental improvement, and because of that we’ve achieved even further progress. At the same time, we have confronted and struggled with several major challenges that are inherent to our industry (for example, extreme differences in the energy consumption of various product mixes and processing technologies, large changes in volumes, and significant shifts in customer demands). Although we have in fact improved our operating performance, these challenges have often made it more difficult to illustrate that with a simple report of steady improvement results. Beyond our recent performance, at the “big picture” level, since our baseline year of 2005, we have reduced our energy consumption and carbon footprint substantially.
We used a total of 2,966,440 gigajoules (GJ) of energy in 2015: 77.27% from natural gas and 22.73% from electricity.
OUR PLANTS HAVE BEEN INCREASINGLY SUCCESSFUL
AT IMPLEMENTING OUR ENERGY PROGRAM
Every plant is audited every year across 19 major categories for how well they have implemented the specific behaviorally-anchored elements of our energy program. Scored on a scale of 0 – 100, our plant teams have improved their performance each year.
||Highest Scoring Plant
To help drive our environmental improvement efforts, every Darigold plant has a full-time dedicated Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) manager. These professionals, with advanced degrees and specialized technical experience, assure a consistent focus on environmental compliance and improvement.
OUR ELECTRICITY AND NATURAL GAS CONSUMPTION AND OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
Electricity makes up nearly one-quarter of our total energy consumption, with natural gas accounting for the remaining slightly more than three-quarters. Together, they account for more than 90% of all our carbon emissions.
Over the last four years, we have developed a sophisticated energy conservation program that is now fully operative at both our corporate level and in every one of our plants. We have an energy team in every plant that drives the energy conservation efforts at their site and each team’s leader also serves as a member of our Darigold corporate-wide Energy Team.
The corporate Energy Team meets every two weeks and leads our overall energy conservation initiative, including convening training programs (e.g., awareness, conservation and efficiency techniques, and team problem solving skills), arranging internal and third-party audits of both energy performance and energy management program efforts, designing our energy reporting system, and overseeing our regular, high visibility recognition and celebration activities.
At each local plant site, the energy teams share weekly communications and conduct monthly meetings, track daily and monthly energy performance reports, lead their Plant Energy Improvement initiatives, support focused improvement projects, coordinate partnerships and leverage incentives with utilities, and help maintain visual control boards.
Our Energy Management System itself is closely modeled after the ISO 50001 Global Energy Management Standard. Our Energy Program assessment, conducted annually at every plant, consists of 19 major categories of performance where detailed behaviorally-anchored metrics are assessed and scored.
THE BOZEMAN PLANT ENERGY TEAM ACHIEVED THE GREATEST REDUCTION IN ENERGY INTENSITY IN 2015.
THE RAINIER (SEATTLE) PLANT ENERGY TEAM’S ENERGY VISUAL CONTROL BOARD.
THE SUNNYSIDE PLANT ENERGY TEAM EARNED THE HIGHEST SCORE FOR ENERGY PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION IN 2015.
In the plants, it is exciting to see the work underway. Teams are actively seeking out and fixing air and steam leaks; installing lighting retrofits; improving pipes, pumps and compressors; adding insulation, and making HVAC upgrades. Along with the capital investments we have made toward energy conservation, these efforts have resulted in significant progress toward reducing our energy use and thus our carbon footprint.
At the same time, there are a number of issues and challenges that directly affect our energy use which are inherent to the dairy industry.
Fluid milk, for example, requires considerably less energy consumption than powdered milk or cheese. As customer demands shift, resultant changes to our product mix can have dramatic effects. Similarly, if volumes for a given line, product, or plant decline, the base rate energy demands remain nearly the same, leading to much higher “per pound of milk” rates of energy use.
In our Caldwell, Idaho, plant, for example, butter production was down by 50% for some of this 2012 - 2015 time period. Given these kinds of changes in our production mix as well as changes in the milk supply, energy use at Caldwell was more intensive.
Our Jerome, Idaho, facility has been responding to increased customer demand for very high protein milk powder – which is more than twice as energy intensive as regular skim-milk powder because it needs additional processing through our ultrafiltration processes, and different drying conditions due to the increased protein levels.
An additional ultra-pasteurization line was installed in our Portland, Ore., plant, but the production volume has not yet reached full capacity. Ultra-pasteurization systems, however, have to be kept sterile at all times. So at any moment when we are not running milk, we must have hot water circulating through the line – thereby using the same amount of energy despite less production.
Sometimes, product or process improvements – which we are passionate about pursuing – carry additional energy consumption demands. In our Issaquah, Wash., plant, for example, we installed a reverse osmosis system that required an additional 350 horse power of electrical load.
At our Sunnyside, Wash., plant we designed a large expansion in three phases. Phase 2, completed in March 2015 (right after completing Phase 1 of new milk receiving bays), allowed us to make condensed milk. The condensed milk was then shipped to other plants to be made into powder. This required additional handling of fluids at both facilities, and thus additional energy demands. On the flip side, during Phase 2, we reduced the number of trucks on the road by approximately 25 trucks per day. Phase 3 is now complete so the powder is made right at Sunnyside, resulting in environmental and product improvements, but for many months we carried that additional energy use burden.
We share these examples and efforts as a way of providing context for understanding our energy and carbon footprint performance.