In the early ‘90s, we thought that our factory was our company’s biggest environmental impact. So we always focused on being energy-efficient, and we also became the first manufacturer in the U.S. to offset the carbon impact of its facility energy use. Based on our carbon footprint, we now know that energy use at the facility is one of the top contributors to our footprint. That said, we use a huge amount of energy, and it’s something that we directly control. In fact, the energy that we used in 2008 is roughly equivalent to the annual energy use of 1,400 American homes! We’re like our own small town! We know that we can do better, and are working hard to do so.
In the process of making yogurt, we do a lot of heating and cooling. The milk comes from the farms and arrives at the Yogurt Works at approximately 38° F, and the yogurt leaves the plant on refrigerated trucks at basically the same temperature. But in between, we have to pasteurize it and encourage the cultures to do their “magic”—and that takes a handful of heating and cooling steps. Whew, you can see why it takes a lot of energy to make yogurt!
So what are we doing to improve? Actually, lots of things! Facility energy is one of our strongest areas of continuous improvement, with a team of folks who are working to find ways to conserve energy (e.g., turn things off!); be energy-efficient (i.e., use less energy to get the same job done); and develop renewable sources of energy. Again, our efforts have paid off—we used 19% less energy to make a cup of yogurt in 2008 than we did in 2007, saving us more than a half-million dollars!
The motivations to use less energy and convert to renewable sources of energy are many. Climate change, cost, national security, operational efficiency…and the list goes on. But it can be harder than it sounds. We’re happy to share information and resources on what we’re doing: