Using a methodology to achieve a level of emission reductions that science suggests is necessary to sustain the health of the planet, General Mills announced on August 31 that it is committed to reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 28% across its full value chain – from farm to fork to landfill – over the next 10 years.
“For 150 years, General Mills has served the world by making food people love,” said Ken Powell, CEO of General Mills. “Our aim is to be around for another 150 years. We recognize that we must do our part to protect and conserve natural resources. Our business depends on it and so does the planet.”
The company says its goal is to achieve sustainable emission levels in line with scientific consensus by 2050. As outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientific consensus suggests a reduction of 50%-70% in absolute emissions by 2050.
The company has achieved success in reducing absolute emissions within its operations by 13% over the last ten years. This was accomplished by using energy more efficiently across its facilities and by converting to less greenhouse gas-intensive forms of energy.
However, nearly two-thirds of the company’s total greenhouse gas emissions occur upstream of its direct operations. “We know our greatest impact is outside our four walls – particularly in agriculture, ingredients and packaging. To reduce emission levels, we must work across our value chain with growers, suppliers, customers and industry partners. Together, we will identify new solutions and promote sustainable agriculture practices that drive emission reductions,” added Powell.
In 2013, General Mills made a commitment to sustainably source 100% of its 10 priority ingredients by 2020. These ingredients represent 50% of the company’s total raw material purchases and have a significant impact on its total environmental footprint. To achieve this the company works with suppliers and farmers to strengthen sustainable farming practices. This work addresses key growing dimensions including GHG emission reduction, water management, and soil quality in an effort to establish more climate resilient farms.
“Our pathways to achieving sustainable emissions will not revolutionize our business,"said Jerry Lynch, chief sustainability officer at General Mills. "Rather, it will be an extension of our ongoing efforts to reduce our environmental footprint through continuous improvement sustainable sourcing.”
Reducing its environmental footprint is an ongoing commitment – one that General Mills will not undertake alone.
Partnering for Action
General Mills points out reducing its footprint is an action that it isn't taken alone. In addition to broadening existing partnerships with organizations like Field to Market, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and others, the company has outlined four specific actions to help fulfill its climate commitment over the next 10 years, including:
- Continue to lead the way in its own, direct operations by investing more than $100 million in energy efficiency and clean energy. This level of investment is in-line with the work the company has been doing within our operations to reduce our environmental footprint since 2005.
- Partner with suppliers to accelerate adoption of more sustainable agriculture practices that build climate-resilient, healthy soils.
- Help consumers reduce their carbon footprint through products and packaging with smaller footprints.
- Support climate resiliency of farmers in our supply chain.
“While our success depends on our actions, we cannot get there on our own. We believe every company, government and individual has a role to play,” said Powell. “Climate change is a shared, global challenge that is best addressed at scale.”