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#BusinessCase: Employee-Led Sustainability Projects Have Saved Conagra $237M

Terry Tran was one of the Conagra employees recognized with an Award of Excellence last year, for his efforts to reduce water used in a cooling system. | Image credit: Conagra Brands, Inc.

Conagra Brands, Inc. is once again celebrating its employees’ commitment to sustainability throughout the organization at its annual Sustainable Development Awards. This year, employees entered 57 projects which together resulted in more than 9,200 tons of waste reduced, eliminated 1,400 tons of material from packaging, conserved more than 170 million gallons of water and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 6,000 metric tons — as well as millions of dollars in cost savings.

This year’s projects have delivered more than $5 million in savings, and Sustainable Development Award projects have cumulatively delivered $237 million in cost savings since 2009. The company says that the projects reinforce how employees at every level of the organization can make a difference and create tangible impacts, both for its corporate sustainability commitments and its bottom line.

Each year, awards are given to the most break-through projects in four key areas: 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.

The 2018 winning sustainability projects include:

  • Climate Change & Energy Efficiency: SKU-specific blast cell timing in 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: Reducing unplanned stops in Troy, OH
    • After realizing a significant amount of time and money went into replacement parts at Conagra’s Slim Jim facility in Troy, OH, the project team modified equipment which reduced unplanned stops and material waste, eliminating over 500 tons of waste annually.
  • Waste Reduction & Recycling: Reducing start-up losses in Waterloo, IA
    • 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: Using evaporation condensate in Menomonie, WI
    • 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 & People's Choice Award: Improved sauce dispensing in Milton, PA

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


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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