Portion Control²

Last year we updated you on the first phase of our effort to change the way our International Delight and Land O’ Lakes brands portion control (PC) cups are made, meaning a smaller carbon footprint and less waste.

We’re happy to announce that our Research & Development team recently completed the final stage of this project – reclaiming and reusing post-industrial scrap from the manufacturing process and using it to make additional portion control cups.  This reuse of scrap material further lightens our PC’s environmental footprint.

Completing this redesign is just one part of our ongoing commitment to sustainable packaging and is in keeping with our mission to become the Earth’s Favorite Food Company.  We’re always brainstorming other ways we can make our packaging more sustainable and hope to bring more updates to life in the future.

In the meantime, you can enjoy using an International Delight or Land O’ Lakes coffee creamer portion control cup knowing that your PC is now, well, PC. Pun intended.

No sun of mine

Courtesy of TreeHugger, a tantalizing look at large-scale indoor farming… no sunlight required.

From the article:

CBS news reports that Dutch bioengineers, including Gertjan Meeuws of PlatLab, are taking the idea of greenhouses to the next level. Their idea of growhouses would exclude all natural input and be entirely controlled from the inside, including artificial lighting, a perfectly regulated climate for that crop, and precise watering.”

Big possibilities – no need for pesticides; less water use; potential urban and vertical farming operations; wind and solar energy reliant.. and according to proponents of the concept, a little more than 1,000 square feet could provide enough food for 140,000 people.

But, big questions as well – will the food be as nutritious as the sun grown stuff?

An even larger question that comes to mind – could this be a solution to the growing concern over GMO seed contamination across non-GMO crops?

Coexistence” has been a much debated concept throughout the current argument around GMOs. There’s talk of “buffer zones” and other preventative measures that are or will be put in place to keep GMO/Non-GMO seeds from mingling, but let’s be honest… the wind is the ultimate decider in that argument. Could these massive indoor farms be the force field we’ve been looking for?


Portion Control

Most know the initials P.C. as an abbreviation for the term “Politically Correct.” At WhiteWave, we reference those letters a lot, but they hold different meaning. Here, PC is short for “Portion Control,” specifically referring to the coffee creamers you see on tables at diners and convenience stores. Our International Delight and Land O’ Lakes brands kick out a bunch of these little cups a year. We’re the largest producer of PCs in North America, and it’s a significant part of our business. But until recently the PCs weren’t very, well, politically correct. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, let me first explain a little more about the cups and how they’re made.

Picture a long, thin sheet of plastic being fed into a giant machine that punches out, while simultaneously filling, little cups; not unlike cutting cookies out of a sheet of dough. It’s an impressive ordeal, but there’s a lot of left over material. And unlike cookie dough, you can’t just roll up the excess and make more cookies. There was no issue with the cups otherwise, they didn’t leak, they traveled well and kept the product from spoiling. But we were wasting tons of material (literally), and when your mission is to become the Earth’s favorite food company, being responsible for that material ending up in landfills is an issue that needs to be addressed.

So two years ago a cross-functional team started looking for ways to fix the problem. Yeah, two years ago. It wasn’t a quick fix item, because a simple solution didn’t exist. It was a custom job so to speak, and it was hard. That thin sheet of plastic was actually made up of seven layers, and it was one of those layers that was keeping the package from being reusable. Simple solution right? Just remove the layer. That’s where it got really tricky… that layer was also one of the major factors that allowed us to keep the product inside fresh for a long period of time. So the team actually had to solve two problems at once. Remove the non-reusable layer, without compromising the packaging’s ability to keep the product from going sour too soon.

The Research and Development (R&D) team was first able to find an alternative material to use, but determining how much of that alternative material to use presented another hurdle. It required a lot of real-time trial to figure out which new design would allow them to maintain line efficiencies on the existing equipment. Going back to the cookie analogy, this meant they had to experiment with a bunch of different recipes until the cookie came out just right, so to speak. The end result was a much lighter material, with a much better carbon footprint.

Here’s what the new Portion Control package helps us do:

  • Eliminate more than one million pounds of material from ending up in landfills every year
  • Because the new material is lighter, it means we can ship more rolls of material per pallet = more rolls per truck = less truckloads per shipment = fewer food miles for WhiteWave
  • Later this year we’ll start reclaiming and reusing the left over scrap produced during the cookie cutting process – lightening the PCs footprint even more.
Green House smoothies

I mentioned awhile back that I’d be hanging out at The Green House project in Boulder, then reporting back on some of the cool stuff I’d seen. Turns out, they had a videographer there capturing the entire three-day event. As soon as the video makes it my way, I will post it. But in the meantime, here are a few shots from the smoothie contest the house dwellers participated in, and allowed me and my friend Deanna to judge. For the record, coffee in smoothies = good.

Shout out to Cynthia Sass and Jeffrey Davis for their winning concoction…

Stocked with the goods

Smoothie contest winners, Cynthia and Jeffrey

This week’s sweet links – Window Farms and Wall Gardens…

Window Farm Project…

Wall Garden. Click for more...

Crop circles in the city

Urban crop circles.

Cool project from design firm, Pentagram incorporates multiple perspectives on how a city can be seen.

This week’s sweet links – PSFK

Wishing I was at the PSFK conference today… so thought it fitting to make them the feature this week…

Glow in the dark cans. Click for more…

New gum could detect Malaria. Click for more…

Top 10 Package Designs. Click for more…

Packaged Vertical Gardens. Click for more…

The open road

Kelly Shea addresses the crowd

Exciting news coming out of Broomfield yesterday where our partners at U.S. 36 Commuting Solutions invited us to participate in a briefing for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, on how economic recovery funds are being used to construct some pretty cool transportation projects in our area. Our very own Kelly Shea, Vice President for Government and Industry Relations, joined Congressman Jared Polis and other local constituents in briefing Speaker Pelosi on the importance of the planned improvements. I’m going to be a little selfish here and say that this is especially great news for WhiteWave as the highway and area receiving the much needed facelift, is one that we all use… a lot.

The majority of headquarter based WhiteWave employees live a good distance away from the office. Our building is actually set in a sort of “in-between” spot (just outside Boulder, just outside Denver), spreading WhiteWavers all across the front range, and making commuting a pretty significant part of our day-to-day lives. To help offset the environmental impact of all that travel, we have a number of transportation programs in place. We provide Eco-Passes that allow employees to ride public transportation for free; we encourage and arrange van pools; and we also encourage employees to bike and walk to work when possible, offering weatherproof bicycle storage and on-site showers at headquarters.

One of the issues we face however, is that most of that commuting is done on U.S. 36 (see much needed facelift); a main artery of asphalt connecting Boulder and Denver, which to be honest turns into a nightmare of congestion every morning, and every night… and if it’s snowing? Hopefully you’ve got a good heater and food rations.

So you can see why we’re so jazzed about this initiative. The project will bring lane expansions, bus rapid transit, and new bike and walking pathways, providing the people of WhiteWave, and everyone else in our area, with even more environmentally-friendly “getting to work” choices.

Check out Kelly’s comments here…

This week’s sweet link – A designer’s take on the future of food…

Egg printer… click for more

Greening the Gridiron

from: https://www.cualum.org/How do football and sustainability fit together? Aside from pigskin being a renewable resource, not much comes to mind, right?

Check this out – The NFL actually has an environmental  program that’s been in place for more than 15 years. What started out as basic recycling program has expanded into a much broader campaign chock full of sustainable efforts and community based activity. And for the second straight year, the NFL is offsetting energy for the fun-filled-five-day-extravaganza leading up to the Superbowl. More and more programs similar to the National Football League’s are popping up all across collegiate and professional athletics, and this LEED certified stadium concept is proof that the sporting world is really thinking about this stuff on a large scale.

In 2008 WhiteWave teamed up with the University of Colorado, the Governor’s Energy Office and Bonneville Environmental Foundation, to make Folsom Field a zero waste zone, and promote the use alternative transportation to and from the stadium. In its first year, “Ralphie’s Green Stampede”,  produced 40 tons of recyclables and compostables – a 199 percent increase in materials diverted from landfills and a 30 percent reduction in overall waste generation both within Folsom Field and at tailgate lots. And in 2009 the program extended its presence across all athletic events.

As a Colorado State alum, you have no idea how hard it is for me to say this, but it really is worth saying… big, big ups to the Buffs and their efforts.

PS – I’d be remiss not to mention the cool stuff C-State is doing in the green realm as well. Click here, and Go Rams