In celebration of World Environment Day on June 5, Conagra Brands (NYSE: CAG) announced today the winners of its annual Sustainable Development Awards, an employee-led program that encourages the development and implementation of innovative ideas related to sustainable production and business practices. This year, employees from across the organization submitted a record 211 sustainability-focused projects that conserve water, reduce waste and save energy, underscoring Conagra’s commitment to nourishing and restoring the planet. Winning teams were presented with awards this week at a ceremony in Chicago and Omaha. In partnership with the Carbonfund.org Foundation, Conagra will estimate the carbon emissions associated with attendees’ travel to the awards ceremony and neutralize those emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets.
Now in its 13th consecutive year, the 2022 Sustainable Development Awards projects generated the following results on an annual basis:
- Decreased the company’s carbon footprint by 7,600 metric tons, equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of driving a vehicle nearly 19 million miles 
- Conserved 95 million gallons of water, equivalent to eliminating the filling of 143 Olympic-size swimming pools 
- Reduced waste by 11,400 tons, equivalent to saving the weight of 91 Statues of Liberty 
Sustainability initiatives are submitted by cross-functional employee project teams across seven categories: Sustainable Brands, Waste Reduction & Recycling, Water Conservation, Climate Change & Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Operations, and an overall Award of Excellence and People’s Choice Award. All submissions are judged by a panel of company sustainability leaders and winners are selected by employee peers.
“Through our annual Sustainable Development Awards, our employees continue to find innovative ways to develop more environmentally-friendly operations and brands,” said Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer, Conagra Brands. “Our focused work to reduce our water use, waste and greenhouse gas emissions demonstrates our commitment to building a more sustainable future. Congratulations to all of those who submitted projects this year and met environmental challenges head on.”
Award-winning employee teams help direct a total of $30,000 in grants from Conagra Brands to local sustainability-focused public service projects.
Conagra Brands’ 2022 Sustainable Development Award winners are:
Sustainable Brands: Duncan Hines: Chicago and Centralia, Ill.
By reducing the amount of palm oil in Duncan Hines’ milk and dark chocolate flavors, the team was able to avoid the use of more than 797,000 lbs. of sustainably sourced palm oil, resulting in a CO2 benefit equivalent to planting nearly 4,500 trees .
Waste Reduction & Recycling: Imlay City, Mich.
At Conagra’s Vlasic pickle facility in Imlay City, the team eliminated 93 tons of waste by installing four level sensors to monitor the produce level on conveyors, automating the process by adjusting its speed to reduce excess waste.
Water Conservation: Irapuato, Mexico
Conagra’s Irapuato team saved nine million gallons of water through measures such as implementing a water leak detection program, which allowed the team to identify and proactively address leaks.
Climate Change & Energy Efficiency: Marshall, Mo.
Freezer blast cells at Conagra’s Marshall facility had improper air flow and inefficiency of blast cell function. By adding baffles to the back of each rack column in the blast cells to force air flow through product pallets, it reduced freeze time, increased plant capacity and lowered electricity consumption by 5%.
Sustainable Operations: Troy, Ohio
The Troy facility created a cross-functional team to work on a blend pairing strategy and a tool to document every step of the Slim Jim production process, determining moisture was the key variable to a more even cook. The project eliminated 5.6 tons of waste and generated in $1 million in cost savings.
People’s Choice Award: Irapuato, Mexico
At Conagra’s Irapuato facility, the team installed 280 solar panels in their finished good distribution center and 236 solar panels in their facility. The new solar panels generated 47% of total distribution center electricity consumption and 2.6% of total electricity consumption at the facility. In addition, this project eliminated 278 metric tons of Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions.
Award of Excellence: Fayetteville, Ark.
The team in Fayetteville identified efficiencies when operating broilers within the facility. Instead of operating the boiler house with all three boilers at the same setpoints, the facility utilizes setpoints to have one boiler running near 100% capacity before ramping up the second boiler, all while having the third boiler turned off. The project saved 27,000 decatherms of natural gas.
Conagra Brands, Inc. (NYSE: CAG), headquartered in Chicago, is one of North America’s leading branded food companies. Guided by an entrepreneurial spirit, Conagra Brands combines a rich heritage of making great food with a sharpened focus on innovation. The company’s portfolio is evolving to satisfy people’s changing food preferences. Conagra’s iconic brands, such as Birds Eye®, Duncan Hines®, Healthy Choice®, Marie Callender’s®, Reddi-wip®, and Slim Jim®, as well as emerging brands, including Angie’s® BOOMCHICKAPOP®, Duke’s®, Earth Balance®, Gardein®, and Frontera®, offer choices for every occasion. For more information, visit www.ConagraBrands.com.
1 According to the U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator, 2,700 metric tons of CO2 is equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from 6,785,634 miles driven in an average passenger vehicle.
2 According to FINA (International Swimming Federation) facilities rules.
4 According to the U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator, 274,175 kg of CO2 is equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from 4,534 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.