From harnessing wind power in Spain to reducing water usage in Georgia,General Mills, Minneapolis,  detailed its progress in four environmental sustainability areas and announced new environmental sustainability goals for 2015.

“Preserving and protecting the environment for generations to come is an important aspect of General Mills’ mission of Nourishing Lives,” said Jerry Lynch, the company's chief sustainability officer. “We’re proud of the progress we’re making, and we are setting more aggressive goals for even greater progress in the next five years.”

Looking ahead, Lynch said General Mills expects to:

1. Reduce water usage by 20 percent

2. Reduce solid waste generation by 50 percent

3. Reduce energy usage by 20 percent

4. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent

General Mills noted that its four global environmental sustainability goals measure the company’s global manufacturing operations using rates normalized per metric ton of product. The water usage goal is measured against a 2006 baseline, while the solid waste, energy and greenhouse gas goals are measured against a 2005 baseline.

General Mills also said it set a U.S. transportation goal of reducing the amount of fuel used to ship each pound of product by fiscal 2015, using fiscal 2009 as a baseline. Achieving the U.S. transportation goal would reduce the rate of greenhouse gas emissions generated by shipping the company’s products by 35 percent by fiscal 2015.

General Mills also detailed its progress in each category through the end of the company’s 2010 fiscal year. Specifically, the company said it has:

-- Reduced its water usage rate by 9 percent – nearly twice the 5 percent goal set in fiscal 2006;

-- Reduced its solid waste generation rate by 33 percent – more than twice the 15 percent goal set in fiscal year 2005;

-- Reduced energy consumption rate by 6 percent – short of the company’s 15 percent goal set in fiscal 2005, and;

-- Reduced its greenhouse gas emission rate by 8 percent – about half the company’s 15 percent reduction goal from fiscal 2005.

“Our 2005 goals were aggressive,” said Lynch, “and we did not achieve them all. But our progress has been substantial and we are raising the bar. We are learning and improving our capabilities in this area every day. We want to set goals that will stretch us to do more.”

General Mills' continuous improvement initiatives have been especially important in creating even better systems across the company, noted Lynch.

“Those efforts have really increased our momentum in just the past two years,” he said. “For example, all of the 6 percent reduction we have achieved in energy consumption came in just the last two years. We are gaining momentum, which in turn encourages us to set more aggressive goals.

“We are on a journey to stand among the most socially responsible consumer food companies in the world,” Lynch concluded. “We have a lot of work ahead. But by setting aggressive goals – and continuing to work to advance our capabilities in this important area – we are putting in place a road map to the future.”