Company honored by industry for innovative and sustainable energy solution
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and its Associate Member Council (AMC) today awarded General Mills with the 2011 CPG Award for Innovation and Creativity. The award is given annually to companies that have demonstrated creativity and innovation, and have made a significant impact on the industry knowledge base.
GMA evaluated applications in two manufacturer divisions – those from companies with total sales of less than $3 billion (Division A) and those from companies with $3 billion or more in sales (Division B).
General Mills won the Division B category for finding an innovative, sustainable use for the 80,000 tons of oat hulls that are left over from the milling process of making Cheerios each year. Batter Blaster won the Division A category.
The company’s decades-long production of Cheerios entered a new chapter in January 2011 with the startup of General Mills’ first biomass-powered plant in Fridley, Minn. A biomass unit at the plant burns leftover oat hulls to produce more than 90 percent of the steam needed to heat the plant and produce the oat flour used in making Cheerios. It has also reduced the plant’s carbon footprint by 21 percent.
“Our biomass burner addressed two compelling business needs — saving money and reducing our footprint on the environment for years to come,” explained General Mills Chairman and CEO, Ken Powell. “We’ve sharpened our focus on building sustainability into every step, from seed to spoon, and this project is one of the most recent and visible successes from this journey. Accomplishments such as the biomass burner inspire and challenge all General Mills employees to dream big when developing creative solutions to make General Mills an even more sustainable company.”
In addition to producing steam and heat for the Fridley mill, leftover oat hulls are used by a local electricity provider, Koda Energy, to power approximately 17,000 homes a year.
The benefits from this project continue beyond energy. After the oat hulls have been burned, the resulting ash is captured and distributed to nearby farmers who use it as a nutrient supplement to improve the soil on agricultural land.
John Hellweg, manufacturing manager of General Mills’ Fridley mill and one of the champions of the oat hulls biomass burner project, provides a tour of the Fridley mill and biomass burner in this video posted on GeneralMills.com.
Learn more about General Mills’ efforts to become an even more sustainable company by viewing the company’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility Report or by visiting CSR.GeneralMills.com or General Mills' corporate blog, A Taste of General Mills.
About General Mills
General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries. Its consumer brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant and Old El Paso. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2011 net sales of US$14.9 billion.
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