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Nestle Purina factories cut back on waste

All Purina factories aim to send no waste to landfill within four years

Nestle Purina-factory US

Five Nestlé Purina dog and cat food and cat litter facilities in North America have reached their goal of zero waste-to-landfill status, meaning all excess packaging material as well as clay and unused food ingredients are being recycled or burned for energy, the company announced this week.

This means 20% of the giant multinational’s 21 factories in Canada and the U.S. have reached targets outlined in their “war on waste” program begun in 2010 with ambitions to bring all plants to zero waste by 2020.

“The challenge is just in the magnitude,” says Bill Cooper, vice-president of manufacturing for Nestlé Purina. “The education, staff training. A lot is trying to understand the root cause … trying to eliminate the creation (of waste) within the facility.”

Waste has been reduced by 30%, Cooper says, and the rest is recycled or composted.

Much of that comes from startup and shut down of operations, when the product has had all its ingredients added and is not marketable as food. This waste is sold as compost and can also be burned to create energy. Much of the effort to end waste-to-landfill was put into “partnerships with credible vendors for composting, recycling, energy recovery and other forms of beneficial use.”

Cooper says the plants had to find ways to start up faster and reduce product line changeovers. Staff had to be trained to eliminate waste wherever possible.

It is sometimes less expensive to ship waste to landfills, Cooper says, but the company feels recycling and converting “is the right thing to do.”

The five plants are in Mississauga, Ont., Missouri, Pennsylvania and two in Wisconsin.

Zero waste-to-landfill has gone beyond the pet market.

“Thanks to focused improvement projects, we have also already achieved zero waste-to-landfill in our ice-cream factory in London, Ont.,, as well as our confectionery factory in Toronto and our Nestlé Professional Plant in Trenton, Ont.,” says Nestlé’s Catherine O’Brien, senior vice-president of corporate affairs.

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