Kraft Foods Pursues Sustanability with Steps 'Big & Small'

November 2010, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Cindy Brauer - Also by this author

With steps "both big and small" since 2005, Kraft Foods has taken giant strides in the company's transportation/distribution sustainability efforts, significantly reducing fuel consumption and vehicle emissions, according to Mike Cole, director of transportation, Kraft Foods North America.

Globally, Kraft Foods "eliminated more than 50 million truck miles and [the equivalent of] more than 50,000 truck [shipments] between 2005 and 2009," said Cole.

"We've made significant progress in reducing the amount of fuel we use by cutting down on the distance our fleets travel; partnering with third-party logistics providers and industry, trade, and government agencies; and applying new technologies - all with the goal of saving fuel and reducing our CO2  emissions," Cole explained. "Reducing our petroleum fuel use also reduces the extent to which we are affected by petroleum cost increases."

Headquartered in Northfield, Ill., Kraft Foods is the world's second-largest food company, with annual revenues of approximately $48 billion and distribution in more than 160 countries. Its stable of brands includes such familiar names as Oreo, Nabisco, Jello, Velveeta, Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer, Ritz, Cadbury, and Kraft. Kraft Foods' U.S. fleet numbers a reported 5,156 vehicles.

Transportation a Key Focus in Sustainability Efforts

Because of its potentially "big impact," transportation/distribution is one of six sustainability focus areas at Kraft Foods, along with agricultural commodities, packaging, energy, water, and manufacturing waste, according to Cole.

"Our success is the result of many individual projects, and we're looking at our supply chain end-to-end around the world for opportunities. And our approach is about all of us taking steps, both big and small, to do our part," said Cole.

In 2009, Kraft Foods' transportation/distribution sustainability efforts eliminated about 4.5 million truck miles - the equivalent of approximately 750,000 gallons of diesel fuel and nearly 16.6 million lbs. of CO2, according to Cole.

"Sustainability is now part of how all of our businesses are evaluated, so it's on all our leaders' minds," said Cole. "All of our sustainability projects need to make business sense in the long run. Otherwise, they wouldn't be sustainable. With any project, there's going to be an up-front investment, but if it's done right, these projects are going to be good for our business, for people, and the environment."

'SmartWay' Partnership Provides Critical Resource

An important resource in implementing Kraft Foods' successful sustainability measures has been the company's partnership with the SmartWay program, sponsored by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The agency "helped us adopt new technology, such as auxiliary power units (APUs) to reduce idling, as well as many other technologies," Cole pointed out.

A "great source of ideas and know-how," SmartWay also helped Kraft Foods develop a no-idling policy at its distribution centers and plants and aided the company's decision to reduce the governed top speed on all over-the-road tractors from 65 to 62 miles per hour, said Cole.

In addition, the food company contracts with more than 100 SmartWay-certified carriers for 80 percent of its freight - up from 70 percent in the past year, according to Cole. "We've done this by a combination of encouraging current carriers to join SmartWay and recruiting new carriers who are already partners," he added.

In 2009, Kraft Foods was one of only five consumer products companies to earn the SmartWay Excellence Award. The distinction recognizes leadership and innovation in reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

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