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Conagra Awards Employee-Led Sustainability, Innovation Projects
Illinois Ag Connection - 05/16/2018

Conagra Brands, Inc. celebrated employees' commitment to sustainability throughout the organization at its annual Sustainable Development Awards. Held each year, the awards call on employees to submit their innovative ideas for ways to improve sustainability within the company with projects that save energy, conserve water and reduce waste. This year, employees entered 57 projects which drove the following results:

- Reduced waste by more than 9,200 tons

- Optimized and improved packaging while using 1,400 tons less material

- Conserved more than 170 million gallons of water

- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 5,900 metric tons

Not only do these projects help the company meet its sustainability commitments but they also produce bottom line results. Delivering more than $5 million in savings, these projects reinforce how employees at every level of the organization can make a difference and create tangible impacts. Since 2009, Sustainable Development Award projects have delivered $237 million in cost savings.

"Conagra's Sustainable Development Awards continue to be a driving force for introducing sustainability-focused change throughout the organization," said Gail Tavill, vice president, sustainable development, Conagra Brands. "The awards encourage employee engagement and challenge teams to collaborate in new ways, all while creating bottom line results with big environmental impact."

Each year, awards are given to the most breakthrough projects in four key areas which include Climate Change & Energy Efficiency, Water Conservation & Wastewater Management, Waste Reduction & Recycling, and Sustainable Business Innovation. Additionally, there is an overall Award of Excellence and a People's Choice Award in which all Conagra employees vote for their favorite project. Award winners receive a $5,000 grant from the Conagra Brands Foundation for use in their community on sustainability-focused public service projects.

Conagra's 2018 winning sustainability projects include:

- Climate Change & Energy Efficiency: Marshall, Mo. Identifying that different frozen product SKUs required varying times to reach proper temperatures, the project team worked to program SKU-specific timing into a blast cell control panel, which regulates cooling, to save more than 1.9 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,380 metric tons.

- Sustainable Business Development: Troy, Ohio. After realizing a significant amount of time and money went into replacement parts at our Slim Jim facility in Troy, Ohio, the project team modified equipment which reduced unplanned stops and material waste, eliminating over 500 tons of waste annually.

- Waste Reduction & Recycling: Waterloo, Iowa. Seeing unnecessary packaging and product waste occurring during equipment start-up, the project team did a study to confirm the exact amount of bags required to be purged during start-up, saving 225,000 bags of DAVID Seeds per year.

- Water Resources: Menomonie, Wis. By expanding the facility's use of cow water -- condensate from the evaporation of dairy products -- for use with evaporator start-ups, the project team reduced the facility's reliance on city water and saved 1 million gallons annually.

- Award of Excellence and People's Choice Award: Milton, Pa. Changing how sauce was dispensed on one of the production lines resulted in a 2% yield improvement while reducing 1,150 tons of wasted sauce per year.

Conagra, headquartered in Chicago, is one of North America's leading branded food companies. Its brands include such as Marie Callender's, Reddi-wip, Hunt's, Healthy Choice, Slim Jim and Orville Redenbacher's, as well as emerging brands Alexia, Blake's, Frontera, Duke's and Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP.

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