General Mills has set a goal to source 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 as part of the RE100 global corporate initiative. To achieve this, the company is investing in renewable energy efforts to support the company’s environmental objectives. Examples include two large-scale wind farms which will produce renewable energy credits (RECs), and anaerobic digestion (which captures and uses methane from waste to generate electricity). Internationally, the company is investigating renewable projects where it has energy-intensive operations.
“Signing on to a movement like RE100 extends our commitment to renewable electricity globally, across our supply chain,” said John Church, chief supply chain officer at General Mills. “We know we’re able to drive more widespread action and impact when we make bold commitments. And we’re proud to be among those corporations that are taking the initiative to use scale for good because together, we can secure more measurable and meaningful results.”
Full value chain targets
In 2015, General Mills was the first company across any sector to publish a goal approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s full value chain (Scopes 1, 2 and 3) by 28 percent by 2025. Through 2019, General Mills has reduced the greenhouse gas emissions of its extended value chain by 14 percent compared to its 2010 baseline.
The renewable energy projects currently underway, as well as those yet to be implemented, will enable the company to reduce Scope 2 emissions in its global operating facilities. Projects underway thus far include:
In North America, the company has a 1.6 megawatt generator fueled by the anaerobic biodigester at its Murfreesboro plant in Tennessee. Self-renewing bacteria in the biodigester convert plant process wastewater from its yogurt production into the biogas fuel. Power and waste heat from the generator are fed directly back into the yogurt processing facility to reduce its annual grid power and natural gas purchases by up to 20 percent.
In South America, the company has a 335 kilowatt biogas regeneration plant at its Paranavai Yoki location. This plant is one of the largest manufacturing plants in Brazil where electric power is produced from biogas generated by the site’s wastewater treatment system. The power is used by the plant with any excess sent to the local electric utility, reducing the company’s power spend by 30 percent.
In Europe, the company has a 195 kilowatt capacity biogas regeneration plant at its Arras, France Häagen-Dazs production facility. The plant uses electric power produced from generators that are fueled by renewable biogas from the site’s process wastewater treatment system. The power generated from the biogas is sold to the local utility grid, while excess heat in the form of hot water is recovered to reduce natural gas consumption at the ice cream plant.
“We are pleased to welcome General Mills to RE100,” said Sam Kimmins, head of RE100. “It is great to see such an influential business commit to 100% renewable electricity globally. General Mills' leadership sends a strong signal to the wider industry that corporations can make a major contribution to the creation of tomorrow’s clean, resilient energy systems.”
In 2017, General Mills signed a 15-year virtual power purchase agreement with RES Americas for 100 megawatts of the Cactus Flats wind project in Concho County, Texas. In fiscal 2019, this project generated RECs equivalent to about one third of electricity usage at General Mills owned manufacturing locations in the U.S. And in 2019, General Mills signed another 15-year power purchase agreement with Roaring Fork Wind, LLC, a joint venture partnership between RES and Steelhead Americas, for 200 megawatts of its Maverick Creek wind project in central Texas. The wind farm will produce RECs for General Mills that, together with Cactus Flats will equal 100% of the electricity used annually at the company’s owned U.S. facilities.
“We have a responsibility to use our scale for good, and people and planet are our primary considerations,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer for General Mills. “We continue to seek out and invest in solutions and programs that will restore and regenerate our natural resources which we are all dependent upon.”
General Mills is listed on the 2019 Dow Jones Sustainability Index, and the 2019 CDP A List Awards for Climate and Water. For more information on General Mills’ ambitious climate commitment and progress, read the company’s 2020 Global Responsibility Report.