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News for the food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry | April 10, 2012

Special Report: Striving for a greener Earth, Part 1
April 22 is Earth Day. It is one day where we come together to think about the health of our planet and what we can do to make it greener. As more consumers and CPG companies recognize the need to be green for the sake of future generations -- and see the cost benefits -- companies are taking the idea of Earth Day and applying it to the everyday by expanding their use of sustainable materials and conserving our natural resources.

CPG companies are helping to keep our planet green by investing in recycling programs, creating green initiatives to engage their customers and setting long-term sustainability goals.

Part 1 of this GMA SmartBrief Special Report, below, includes a Q-and-A with Bob Branham, director of customer sustainability at General Mills. Part 2, to be published on Thursday, will feature examples of Earth Day efforts and sustainable best practices that can be put to use all year.

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  Industry Insight 
  • Earth Day and beyond: Sustainability efforts in the industry

    Bob Branham has worked at General Mills for 28 years, but only took on his role as customer sustainability director two years ago. "We created the position because our retailers continue to be more engaged in the space and we are as well, so there's always a conversation about collaboration potential and shared best practices," he says. Here, he explains some of the company's sustainability efforts, both for Earth Day and for every day. Read the entire Q-and-A at SmartBlog on Food & Beverage.

    What have been the industry's greatest accomplishments in the area of sustainability since the first Earth Day in 1970?

    Subjectively, there's a much greater awareness of the impacts we have as an industry. On the more practical side, there's been great work done on packaging improvements, with better materials, better innovation to extend the shelf life and convenience of the products. There have been transportation improvements, reducing road miles and efficiencies. From a manufacturing point-of-view, we've made great efficiencies in operations, looking at it through the lens of cost saving, but then realizing the phenomenal environmental benefit of how you manufacture, package and transport products. That's how business can and should choose to look at this -- there's a great financial benefit to becoming more sustainable food company. There's no downside in this space, you can only improve. There's no risk, per se. The brand people would say, and rightly so, we can't be accused of green-washing, so we have to be careful with our claims, careful to not take a fact and build a story around it that doesn't take into account some of the impacts that are not included in that fact. So, in the food industry, you don't see a ton of environmental claims. Sometimes these things are much more important as internal tools and claims you can make with your retailers, but you don't necessarily need to talk to consumers about it. Consumers want price value, they want their food to be safe, taste good, be convenient and, nowadays, they want it to be affordable. There are a lot of attributes consumers really want from us, so when we make an important and smart packaging improvement, we don't run out and make a 30-second spot about it.

    What kind of Earth Day events, if any, is General Mills planning this year?

    We're having our first-ever sustainability week April 16 to 20. We're calling it "Feed the Future." Employees love that they work for a company that's very overt about [sustainability] efforts, whether its on the social side, like helping villages in Africa feed themselves through our foundation, or employee volunteerism or environmental sustainability. Now we want to get them from awareness to greater understanding of what it means to be a sustainable company. It goes beyond the environment to economic and social issues and long-term concerns. We need to know that when there are 9 billion people on the planet, they all have access to Cheerios, and that there will be oats for those Cheerios.

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  Earth Day in the News 
  • P&G campaign encourages consumers to wash in cold water
    Procter & Gamble introduced its new "Take a Load Off" campaign, part of the company's Future Friendly conservation education initiative, to commemorate Earth Day and educate consumers about the benefits of washing clothes in cold water. The company aims to convert 70% of total washing machine loads to cold water by 2020 and will use the campaign to promote its Tide detergents formulated for cold water. (4/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Eco-friendly awareness grows in Connecticut town
    Residents in Greenwich, Conn., have grown increasingly aware of the need to recycle, say recycling event organizers Joanne Clark and Sally Davis. A single-stream recycling program launched there last year has helped raise awareness, say Clark and Davis, who this month have organized townwide sneaker and paper recycling drives to celebrate Earth Day. (Conn.) (3/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Product announcements appearing in SmartBrief are paid advertisements and do not reflect actual GMA endorsements. The news reported in SmartBrief does not necessarily reflect the official position of GMA.

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