More than 100 years ago, W.K. Kellogg used recycled materials to package his first box of cereal. Now, Kellogg Co. is taking fresh steps to improve the effect its production has on the environment.
On Wednesday, the world’s largest cereal-maker announced the latest goals in its social and environmental strategies. The renewed push includes seeking better results, from the company and suppliers, and it comes as consumers and public advocacy groups demand that companies such as Kellogg take more responsibility for their environmental effect.
Kellogg said that by 2020, it aims to source responsibly its top 10 ingredients, such as corn, wheat and sugar. Kellogg also will begin pushing suppliers, millers and farmers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
As a global food company that makes many grain-based products, “we really are heavily dependent on natural resources like water, energy and healthy agricultural ecosystems to make our food,” said Diane Holdorf, Kellogg’s chief sustainability officer and vice president of environmental stewardship, health and safety. “We know that our consumers really care about these issues; they care about where their foods come from and they care about how their foods are made.”
The updated commitments come after Kellogg laid out certain targets in 2008 that it hoped to reach by 2015, such as reducing energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and water use.
Kellogg is on track to meet its 2015 commitments on water use, and has twice exceeded its target for reducing the waste it sends to landfills, Holdorf said. But it could be challenging to hit the goals that Kellogg set in cutting energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, she said.
Holdorf said Kellogg now aims to reduce its energy use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 15 percent beyond its performance in 2015. The Battle Creek, Mich., company measures its output in these areas based on the amount of food it produces.
One part of the company’s new goals is to push its agricultural suppliers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In May, Kellogg and rival General Mills were deemed by the group Oxfam as not doing enough to battle climate change.
In late July, General Mills announced its own new sustainability efforts.
By 2016, Kellogg wants to have 30 percent of its plants sending zero waste to landfills, up from 18 percent now. It also aims to have more of its manufacturing facilities use low-carbon energy. For example, its Eggo bakery in San Jose, Calif., installed fuel cell technology in 2013 that generates about half the electricity the facility needs. The company also uses solar energy and biomass boilers at some other plants.