PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division today celebrated the success of its most ambitious environmental sustainability project to-date by announcing that its Casa Grande, Arizona, facility has reached “near net zero.” The “near net zero” vision was to transform an existing facility so that it would be as far “off the grid” as possible and run primarily on renewable energy sources and recycled water, while producing nearly zero landfill waste.
“As a company that relies on key natural resources like water and fuel, Frito-Lay has developed strategies to ensure our business remains sustainable, even if there are constraints on those resources,” explains Al Carey, past CEO and president, Frito-Lay North America. “Frito-Lay and its parent, PepsiCo, are committed to finding innovative solutions that are right for the business and right for the environment. The ‘near net zero’ project is an industry-leading example of how the two successfully intersect.”
Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of CO2 emissions, 40% of energy consumption and 13% of water consumption, making environmental sustainability initiatives for new and existing buildings a significant opportunity. In fact, greater building efficiency can help meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy.
Frito-Lay invested in and implemented a combination of technologies to enable the Casa Grande plant to significantly reduce the use of key natural resources and reduce the site’s overall environmental footprint. Using innovative technologies, the Casa Grande facility is generating 2/3 of all energy used from renewable sources and is working toward significant reductions:
- 50% reduction of greenhouse gases
- 75% of water is recycled
- 80% reduction of natural gas usage
“Frito-Lay set out to create an environmental learning lab in our Casa Grande plant that would try to make the plant ‘near net zero,’” said Al Halvorsen, senior director of environmental sustainability, Frito-Lay North America. “Our approach to significantly reduce the use of natural resources and the environmental impact of a manufacturing site has been cutting edge and today marks a major milestone for Frito-Lay and PepsiCo.”
The Casa Grande facility installed a water recovery and reuse system that combines Membrane Bio Reactor (MBR) and Low-Pressure Reverse Osmosis (LPRO) technologies to recycle from 50% to 75% of water. The recycled process water meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) primary and secondary drinking water standards.
Five separate and distinct solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, installed throughout the property, produce nearly 10 million kilowatt-hours (KWHs) of electrical power. Two solar fields of single axis tracking PV systems with more than 18,000 solar panels were installed on 36 acres of the facility’s agriculture property. The three additional PV fields installed by the plant include a dual axis tracking system, a single axis covered parking lot and 10 sterling engine dual axis tracking systems.
Natural Gas Reduction:
The newly installed 60,000 pounds per hour (lb/hr) biomass boiler, which uses wood and agricultural waste as its combustion energy source, will produce all the steam needed for the manufacturing plant and will reduce natural gas usage by over 80%.
As of 2010, the Casa Grande facility sends less than 1% of its overall waste to landfill through extensive recycling and using food waste for cattle feed.
During the course of implementation, the Casa Grande facility became the first existing food manufacturing site to achieve LEED® Existing Building (EB) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2009.
Moving forward, Frito-Lay will leverage key learnings from the Casa Grande plant and apply them to other facilities where appropriate. Every Frito-Lay plant is identifying projects and approaches to get closer to “near net zero” and to significantly reduce its environmental footprint.
For more than a decade, Frito-Lay North America has been committed to reducing the use of key major resources and the company’s overall environmental footprint. The company has nearly reached or exceeded its aggressive conservation goals, based on 1999 levels, to reduce water use by 50%; natural gas by 30%; and electricity by 25%. In addition, the company created an environmental strategy for its fleet to reduce fuel use by 50% by 2020.
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Frito-Lay Casa Grande Near net Zero team
Frito-Lay Casa Grande has been part of the Pinal County community for more than 25 years. The nearly 188,000-square foot building sits on 202 acres of land. Frito-Lay Casa Grande’s more than 350 associates make some of America’s favorite snack chips, including Lay’s and Ruffles potato chips, Fritos corn chips, Tostitos and Doritos tortilla chips, and Cheetos cheese-flavored snacks.