Conagra Brands announced the winners of its annual Sustainable Development Awards, celebrating the company's commitment to sustainability. Conagra's awards program encourages employees from across its organization to develop, implement and submit for consideration sustainability-focused initiatives which conserve water, reduce waste and save energy. This year, Conagra employees entered a record-breaking 128 sustainability projects which delivered the following total results for the company:

  • Decreased the company's carbon footprint by 15,700 metric tons, equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of driving a vehicle 38.9 million miles(1)
  • Conserved 120 million gallons of water, equivalent to eliminating the filling of 180 Olympic-size swimming pools(2)
  • Reduced waste by 5,750 tons, equivalent to saving the weight of 25 Statues of Liberty(3)

These projects are integral in helping Conagra Brands achieve its corporate social responsibility commitments, while also making a positive impact on the company's bottom line. This year's Sustainable Development Awards submissions generated nearly $30 million in enterprise savings, demonstrating that employees at every level of the organization are supporting efforts to cultivate sustainable food brands while also driving tangible business results.

"Our Sustainable Development Awards continue to be a cornerstone of Conagra's work to nourish our planet, fueled by our employees' passion for new ideas," said Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer, Conagra Brands. "Sustainable practices are important in building strong brands and making great food for our consumers and customers, and these projects demonstrate our teams' relentless focus on impacting environmental and business results."

Employee teams submitted sustainability initiatives in the six following categories, which were reviewed by a panel of company leaders: Sustainable Brands; Waste Reduction & Recycling; Water Conservation & Wastewater Management; Climate Change & Energy Efficiency; Sustainable Operations; and overall Award of Excellence. An additional People's Choice category winner was chosen by employee peers through company-wide Sustainable Development Awards engagement efforts.

Award-winning employee teams direct grant funds from the Conagra Brands Foundation to nonprofit organizations in their communities for sustainability-focused public service projects.

Conagra Brands' 2020 Sustainable Development Award winners are:

Sustainable Brands: Waseca, Minnesota

The Birds Eye agricultural operations team at Conagra's Waseca facility executed a sustainable agriculture program supporting soil health and water conservation across the company's family farmer network, complimented by Birds Eye zero waste(4) production team efforts to recycle vegetable processing byproducts into irrigation water and animal feed.

Climate Change & Energy Efficiency: Fayetteville, Arkansas

Conagra's Fayetteville frozen food facility team optimized refrigeration controls to eliminate 267,000 kilowatt hours of electricity use – equal to the annual electricity needs of 32 homes(5) – and reduce the facility's carbon footprint by 150 tons.

Water Conservation & Wastewater Management: Imlay City, Michigan

At Conagra's Vlasic pickle facility in Imlay City, the team conserved 48 million gallons of water through a new closed loop water chiller system, reducing the facility's water use nearly 30 percent.

Waste Reduction & Recycling: Council Bluffs, Iowa

Conagra's Council Bluffs frozen food facility team eliminated 1,215 tons of food waste and created $1.5 million in savings by implementing improved monitoring techniques and production controls to more effectively train team members on sustainable production practices.

Sustainable Operations and People's Choice: Irapuato, Mexico

At Conagra's facility in Irapuato, team members redesigned Hunt's plastic ketchup bottles to be 10 percent lighter, eliminating 60 tons of plastic from the company's supply chain. The team also eliminated more than 5.5 million pieces of cardboard from ACT II popcorn by creatively using existing packaging surfaces, rather than separate inserts, to list product information, saving 150 tons of corrugate cardboard.

Award of Excellence: St. Elmo, Illinois

Conagra's salad dressings and breakfast syrups facility team in St. Elmo applied an innovative use of air pressure to help transfer liquid ingredients out of tanker trucks and into the production process, yielding up to 100 gallons more of usable sweeteners and oil ingredients per tanker load, eliminating more than 100 tons of food waste annually, and driving more than $1 million in savings.

About Conagra Brands

Conagra Brands is headquartered in Chicago and is one of North America's leading branded food companies. Guided by an entrepreneurial spirit, Conagra Brands combines a rich heritage of making great food with a sharpened focus on innovation. The company's portfolio is evolving to satisfy people's changing food preferences. Conagra's iconic brands, such as Birds Eye, Marie Callender's, Banquet, Healthy Choice, Slim Jim, Reddi-wip, and Vlasic, as well as emerging brands, including Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP, Duke's, Earth Balance, Gardein, and Frontera, offer choices for every occasion. 

1 According to the U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator, 15,700 metric tons of CO2 is equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions from 38,957,816 miles driven in an average passenger vehicle.

2 According to FINA (International Swimming Federation) facilities rules.

3 According to The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation (SOLEIF) statue facts.

4 Conagra Brands' Zero Waste Champion facilities divert more than 95 percent of materials from landfills through recycling and other innovative waste reduction measures.

5 According to the U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator.