Sustainability in Action

At TreeHouse Foods, we focus on optimizing shareholder value, while simultaneously minimizing our environmental impact and maintaining a safe workplace for our employees.  We are committed to conducting our business operations and manufacturing in a manner that conserves energy and water, minimizes waste and emissions, and promotes the conservation of natural resources.  We take this commitment very seriously, and understand that achieving environmental sustainability is a continuous improvement process. 

Our approach to sustainability is multifaceted.  We focus our efforts on ensuring the safety of our employees, reducing non-renewable energy use and increasing energy efficiency at our production facilities, conserving water, decreasing air emissions, improving transport efficiency, reducing waste, improving and minimizing our packaging, and promoting more sustainable growing practices among our agricultural product suppliers.  We have a dedicated environmental and safety management team to oversee these efforts.  Additionally, TreeHouse Foods continuously explores opportunities to further promote sustainability using pollution prevention teams at our production facilities.  Each team is charged with reviewing plant operations to determine where and how the facility might conserve water, reduce energy usage, lower air emissions, and decrease waste generation.

The following are verified examples of TreeHouse Foods' recent efforts to maintain a safe workplace for our employees, reduce our environmental impact, promote sustainable operations and practices, and maximize economic performance in 2015.

Safety and Security

TreeHouse Foods believes the safety and security of our employees is not only a primary responsibility of our company, but is also a crucial factor in our drive toward a sustainable future.  TreeHouse Foods has established a goal of zero workplace injuries.  Admittedly, we have some work ahead of us to achieve this goal, but we continue to move in the right direction.  Our path to zero workplace injuries will be one of continuous improvement.  The implementation of our safety management system, which began in 2010, has resulted in a greater level of activity focused on shrinking or eliminating risks, including through training, observations, floor audits, and root cause investigations.  Our continuous improvement efforts in 2016 will continue to include standardization of our incident review process and implementation of our comprehensive computer-based training program for Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS).  Our company-wide Days Away, Restricted and Transfer (DART) injury rate was 2.39 in 2015. 

Reducing Non-Renewable Energy Use/Improving Energy Efficiency

TreeHouse Foods completed the implementation of a utility management software solution in 2010, giving us visibility into our utility consumption, costs and carbon emissions at our plants. With greater visibility, TreeHouse Foods is now in a position to more aggressively pursue our greatest improvement opportunities relating to the energy efficiency of our manufacturing operations and the reduction of carbon emissions. TreeHouse Foods has created an Operational Efficiency - Sustainability Steering Group, consisting of key engineering and maintenance leaders throughout our company, to assist in identifying, exploiting and realizing energy efficiency improvement opportunities. We have recently completed the following energy efficiency improvement projects:

  • In 2015, our Flagstone Foods facility in Minneapolis, Minnesota completed a plant lighting retrofit utilizing LED technology. An estimated 583,083 kWh will be saved annually, resulting in a reduction of approximately 485 metric tons of Scope 2 CO2e emissions.
  • In 2015, our Green Bay, Wisconsin facility retrofitted a heat exchanger to preheat boiler makeup water. This project will reduce boiler fuel consumption by an estimated 26,724 Therms, resulting in a 159 metric ton reduction in Scope 1 CO2e emissions.  

Through the combination of utility reduction projects and production efficiency improvements, eight TreeHouse Foods facilities realized reductions in kWh consumption per 1,000 lbs. of product; nine TreeHouse Foods facilities realized reductions in fuel consumption per 1,000 lbs. of product; and four TreeHouse Foods facilities realized reductions in gallons of water consumed per 1,000 lbs. of product.

In addition to our focus on manufacturing efficiency, TreeHouse Foods continues to seek opportunities to maximize the energy efficiency and sustainable design of our buildings. Our Midwest Distribution Center in Rochelle, Illinois obtained Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification in 2010.  In addition, TreeHouse Foods has two new distribution centers, located in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, which have also obtained LEED certification.

Water Conservation

TreeHouse Foods recognizes that water conservation is a vital component of a sustainable environment.  Our facilities continue to explore opportunities to reduce water usage in their operations.  These reduction opportunities can be as simple as turning off hoses, or as complex as modifying the desalinization process used in pickle processing.  Our EHS staff periodically conducts "kaizen" water reviews at our processing locations.  Kaizen reviews are multi-function process improvement and productivity exercises based on W. Edward Deming's management principles.  The objectives of the kaizen reviews include creating an accurate water flow balance, identifying significant water consumers in our processes, brainstorming opportunities to reduce water use, and proposing projects aimed at achieving water use reduction targets. We recently undertook the following water conservation project:

  • After conducting a water study in 2015, the North East, Pennsylvania facility began installing "waterless" product transfer pump seals. The result at completion is estimated to save 5.8 million gallons of water annually.

Reducing Air Emissions

Emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) at TreeHouse Foods facilities are fairly limited.  However, our facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is considered a major source, resulting from the use of coal-fired boilers. In March 2014, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania facility terminated its use of coal to fire its steam generation systems.  As a result, CO2e emissions from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania facility were reduced by 27,599 metric tons as compared to 2012 - a reduction of 33.3%.  

Additionally, TreeHouse Foods understands that motor vehicles contribute significantly to air pollution and carbon emissions.  Currently, we partner with a number of carriers to transport our products.  Many of these carriers are currently working to create more fuel efficient fleets, and several of our primary carriers utilize SmartWay Certified tractors.

Throughout 2015, TreeHouse Foods continued its commitment to minimizing the environmental impact within our transportation network by maximizing the tonnage in each shipment and increasing the use of lower emission intermodal shipping. Significant initiatives commenced in 2011 and continuing through 2015 include the use of lightweight trailers at select sites.  This enables us to increase the amount of finished product on each trailer, resulting in a reduction of over-the-road miles, and thereby reducing CO2e emissions.  In addition, TreeHouse Foods continued to expand its use of intermodal shipments in 2015, maximizing the efficiency of over-the-road miles, and also reducing CO2e emissions. Innovative onsite warehousing strategies implemented in 2012 have allowed both the Dixon, Illinois and the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania facilities to direct-ship finished product to a variety of customers, rather than ship to centralized distribution centers.  This reduces over-the-road miles by eliminating unnecessary hauls.  Furthermore, the locations of our two newest distribution centers, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, were selected based on common freight lanes to minimize route miles and maximize efficiency.

Reducing Waste

TreeHouse Foods understands that an effective waste minimization program through source reduction and segregation strategies not only results in enhanced environmental protection and reduced carbon emissions, but also has a positive economic return.  Beginning January 1, 2011, TreeHouse Foods entered into a partnership with a full service waste and recycling management firm to assist us in minimizing our landfill waste and maximizing recycling at our U.S. and Canadian facilities. In addition, this partnership provides TreeHouse Foods with visibility to multiple waste and recycling-related metrics to measure progress. With the enhanced capabilities created by this partnership, TreeHouse Foods expects to uncover additional reuse and/or recycling opportunities for miscellaneous scrap metal, aluminum, cardboard fiber, office paper, plastic materials and food waste.  Examples of recent waste reduction projects are below.

  • The Flagstone Foods facility in Robersonville, North Carolina installed a 47 cubic yard capacity compactor/baler to expand its old corrugated container (OCC) recycling efforts. We expect a 6-ton/day improvement in OCC recycling as a result of this installation.   
  • With a commitment to progressing towards Zero-Waste-to-Landfill status, eleven TreeHouse Foods facilities, through comprehensive recycling efforts and creative landfill diversion strategies, have achieved diversion rates exceeding 50%. Those facilities include Chicago, Illinois; Dixon, Illinois; Wayland, Michigan; Brooklyn Park, Minnesota; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Medina, New York; Robersonville, North Carolina; Winona, Ontario; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Manawa, Wisconsin.

Improving Packaging Processes

TreeHouse Foods is aware that efficient packaging positively impacts the environment in multiple ways, including by decreasing raw material needs, reducing waste, and reducing transportation needs while increasing fuel efficiency.  Accordingly, we continually look for ways to increase our packaging efficiency in cooperation with our suppliers and customers.  The following notable projects began in 2015:

  • TreeHouse Foods partnered with its packaging suppliers to develop and offer to our customers a fully recyclable single serve beverage cup to utilize in beverage manufacturing.
  • TreeHouse Foods also partnered with another major food manufacturer to develop and offer to our customers non-petroleum-based PET containers for our snacks and salad dressing product lines.

Promoting Sustainable Growing Practices

TreeHouse Foods continues to encourage and support sustainable agricultural practices among our cucumber growers in the pickle business.  To that end, we reinforce compliance with individual state programs which regulate agricultural practices and their potential effects on the environment.  For example, each of our Wisconsin growers is required to report plans relating to processes such as fertilizer management to the state's Department of Natural Resources. They are also required to address issues including potential environmental impacts on nearby surface waters.  Constant contact with local, county and state authorities allows TreeHouse Foods to stay abreast of new or changing rules and regulations, enabling us to promptly change our policies and procedures when necessary.

Internally, we work with our growers to ensure they are rotating their crops appropriately to replenish the soil, keep it fertile, and protect it from ground borne diseases.  We also prohibit our growers from using fertilizer containing byproducts from processing facilities.  All chemical usage is documented and verified appropriate, and pesticides are only used when pest thresholds are met.  

Today, we are working with growers and experimenting with the latest technology in water conservation. Instead of the traditional overhead center pivot irrigation systems, we are working with above ground, re-usable plastic strip drip irrigation. This technology uses a fraction of the water of conventional systems, thereby encouraging positive long-term results.

We understand that the concept of sustainability goes well beyond environmentally-friendly practices used to produce our crops.  It extends to the social well-being of those who nurture, grow and harvest our crops.  Consequently, we offer a commitment to the growers that maintain these sustainable practices.  Under our growers' bonus program, we aid growers in ensuring that farm workers receive adequate housing during the growing season that meets all state guidelines. 

TreeHouse Foods is committed to continually improving its environmental performance, promoting positive environmental stewardship, and maintaining workplace safety.  In order to do so, we understand that we must continue to embrace new ideas, actively seek out and employ more environmentally sustainable practices, and insist on promoting sustainable practices among our suppliers and contractors.  We realize that our current efforts to improve sustainability represent a step toward meeting the on-going challenge of a truly environmentally sustainable future.  TreeHouse Foods has and will continue to face that challenge with concrete actions that speak to our resolve.  We will continue to share our ongoing efforts with you through our annually-updated "Sustainability in Action" program.

Sam K. Reed

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

TreeHouse Foods, Inc.


Updated December 31, 2015