General Mills focuses its efforts on reducing waste upstream of the production chain.
For example the Yoplait manufacturing teams are working on optimizing the quantities needed for plastic packaging products. For over 4 years, we have been running a program to lighten the plastic cups we use for yoghurts and other products. As such, each year, new production lines use expanded polystyrene.
The cups made with this lightweight polystyrene now represent 50% of the brand's volumes. The goal is to reach 75% by 2017. With this innovation, 457 tons of plastic were saved in 2014 in Europe.
Finally, optimisation of Yop bottle caps in small format led to a saving of 72 tons of polyethylene in 2014.
Downstream of the production chain, efforts focus on optimizing waste sorting. Within the Häagen-Dazs production plant, a waste sorting program has enabled recycling (and valorize) of 90% of waste.
When possible, the company also promotes the circular economy. In the Seretram factory that produces Green Giant sweetcorn, corn waste is collected, treated and re-used for animal feed.
To help reduce the environmental impacts of its activities, Yoplait develops projects aimed at reducing the consumption of raw materials and at recycling and promoting new usages, whenever possible. The company has developed an eco-design tool that guides development teams in their product design choices in order to minimise environmental impacts.
Furthermore, the Yoplait Monéteau plant (in France) has experimented with a new way of recycling its waste. Sewage, sludge and co-products are provided to a local farmer, located less than 20km from the plant. This bio-waste feeds into a biogas plant, which then produces energy and an organic amendment used to fertilise agricultural soils. The factory in Vienna has invested in a waste compactor system to recover more material and switch from 46% to 56 % in 2013, equivalent to 0.6 % of tons of DIB (ordinary industrial waste) by ton instead of 0.9%.
At the end of the production chain, to avoid food waste, General Mills brands regularly give products to local associations which benefit those in need in the local communities in which we operate.