Total water use during 2012 was 4.9 billion gallons. Our target is to reduce total water use by 0.5 billion gallons by 2020. During 2012 we implemented projects that reduced water use by 0.122 billion gallons or 24 percent of our goal. We are currently on pace to achieve our water reduction goal prior to 2020.
Water use reduction was accomplished through ongoing equipment improvements and behavior based initiatives with employees at our operations. Our water sources include municipal utilities and company-owned wells. Normalized usage (cubic meters/tons of production) for 2012 was 7.7.
Recent projects to reduce water consumption have included:
- Reducing water consumption: At our Rochelle (IL) Foods facility, the need to reduce water consumption was identified and a combined approach from all areas was implemented. The team aimed to surpass the company sustainability water reduction goal early, and they are well on their way by reducing water consumption by 13.4 million gallons. Employee education was a key part of the success of this project, with communications in the plant newsletter, posters, and monitors in the cafeteria and lobby. The project allowed for substantial financial savings.
- Implementing new spray nozzles: At our Austin (MN) Plant, the team replaced water spray nozzles in its smokehouse ovens with a more efficient design. This simple implementation cut water usage by 48 percent and saved more than 16,000 gallons of water per production cycle.
- Reducing total water usage: Our Progressive Processing (Dubuque, IA) facility set a goal to reduce its water demand by reclaiming water to use in different areas of the plant. The team identified a new blancher as a source to potentially reclaim water and reuse it at the initial spray bar. By recapturing the water from the economizer we were able to add piping and start pumping it over to the tanks to reclaim water and reduce usage by more than 5.9 million gallons per year.
- Reducing water usage while offsetting wastewater rate increases: The team at the Jennie-O Turkey Store – Benson Ave. (Willmar, MN) Plant designed and installed a closed loop cooling system and worked with a third-party to determine the best rate for water to be carried to the chillers. The project resulted in a savings of more than 38 million gallons per year and allowed us to save money on wastewater charges.