Conagra ‘goes gold’ with EPA award

Food manufacturer recognized for environmental excellence

By Melanie Yingst -

TROY — Conagra’s Troy plant took time to celebrate its gold medal environmental efforts, which were recognized by the Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler on an unusually warm, spring-like day Thursday.

Butler honored Conagra by presenting its gold-medal E3 recognition flag, which was raised outside the plant. The Troy plant achieved gold-level recognition in Ohio EPA’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence program.

Conagra Plant Manager Jeff Erwin said it will be the manufacturer’s “quest now to achieve platinum status” after joining the elite group of manufacturers that are gold-level E3 businesses.

Through the E3 program, Ohio EPA’s Division of Environmental and Financial Assistance helps businesses and other organizations receive recognition for environmental stewardship efforts. E3 recognition has four levels: Achievement, Silver, Gold and the newest Platinum level.

An organization can work through levels of recognition including Achievement at the base level; Silver Level recognizing outstanding accomplishments in environmental stewardship; and Gold Level recognizing comprehensive environmental stewardship programs. The new Platinum Level recognizes organizations that have expanded their environmental programs beyond their own facility to make a positive impact on the surrounding community. All levels require a commitment to meet or exceed environmental regulatory requirements.

“The Troy, Ohio plant won the Ohio EPA E3 award for encouraging environmental excellence; 28 plants in the state of Ohio received the gold award. We were fortunate to achieve that,” Erwin said.

The plant scored gold in 19 elements to achieve the gold status.

“We really emphasize our continuous improvement as well as our innovation and our environmental sustainment systems we have in our company to help us understand the work we are doing and the opportunties that are still in front of us,” Erwin said. “Conagra is doing the right things in the environment, the community and for our employees, too. It’s a safer, healthier environment.”

The 750 employees at Conagra Brands’ Troy plant produce frozen bakery products and Slim Jim meat snacks.

The award highlights the plant’s commitment to reducing its footprint in key environmental areas including water usage and food waste.

“We’ve done a lot of work internally to improve our manufacturing processes to generate less waste, and by generating less waste we are sending less out to the landfill,” Erwin said.

Using updated equipment, the plant has reduced its water consumption by 2 million gallons a year while also managing food waste responsibly. Partnering with a third party, Conagra has redirected more than 4,425 tons of scrap dough and other food waste to animal feed or compost. Wood pallets that are not repairable also are composted.

“Conagra’s team approach encourages all employees to submit ideas for process improvements. The environmental benefits from this inclusive approach have resulted in lower water and electric use, more food scrap composting and less waste going to landfills,” Butler said in a press release. “This conserves Ohio’s resources and benefits the company’s bottom line. We are pleased to honor Conagra Brands for its environmental leadership.”

The Troy plant is focusing on keeping materials out of landfills. Conagra works with a company to redirect soiled cardboard for energy production, keeping more than 90 tons of cardboard a month out of landfills. Additionally, the plant recycles aluminum cans and plastic bottles, diverting several thousand pounds of waste from landfills each year. In 2016, Conagra’s efforts reduced water use by 22 percent, electric use by 5.5 percent and resulted in more than 90 percent of its waste being diverted from landfills.

Food manufacturer recognized for environmental excellence

By Melanie Yingst

Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews

Follow Melanie Yingst on Twitter @Troydailynews