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Last week, General Mills, Perdue Farms, and Tyson Foods all issued sustainability reports ahead of Earth Day, announcing they were approaching major sustainability goals. In addition, the three companies revealed new plans to further reduce their environmental footprints.

Tyson Foods announced plans to improve the agricultural practices they use for their corn fields—which span over 2 million acres—as part of a new initiative to reduce their environmental impact. They hope to accomplish this by 2020. One of the company’s core values is to “serve as stewards of the animals, land, and environment entrusted to us.” This requires consideration of how their agricultural procedures affect the atmosphere and soil, as well as water supplies.

Sustainability: Lowering Emissions

With this in mind, Tyson announced plans for a science-based reduction of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions, with a goal of lowering their emissions 30% by 2030. The company also reported that they will perform an in-depth analysis of their water footprint. They plan to partner with other agricultural organizations to create a water accounting methodology that will allow them to more accurately identify water demands. This will allow the company to use less water for electricity, heating, cooling, and steam power.

Reducing Waste & Water Usage

In a press release, Perdue Farms announced an initiative to reduce greenhouse gases, water use, and solid waste as part of their 2022 goals. Steve Levitsky, the current Vice President of sustainability at Perdue Farms, said, “We’re already taking steps to reduce our environmental footprint, but our 2022 goals will significantly accelerate our progress.” Perdue intends to lower Scope and Scope Two greenhouse gases by 30% and potable water use by 25%. Their goal for solid waste is to receive zero solid-waste certifications for at least five of their facilities.

According to Food Business News, between 2016 and 2017 General Mills decreased the amount of water they used to manufacture their products by 17%. During that same time period, the company also reduced their greenhouse emissions by 11%, nearly doubled their organic acreage, and devoted more than $6 million towards pollination research. Jeff Harmening, the Chief Executive Officer of General Mills, said, “We are investing in the preservation of natural resources that our business and the global population depend on.” The company has chosen to focus on water preservation given the pressing circumstances: more than one billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, and the water shortage is only expected to get worse.

A Growing Trend

A growing number of food companies are focusing on sustainability because they recognize that consumers want to buy products that are better for the environment. Transparency is important to the average consumer since they want to make informative decisions about what they buy and about what they put into their bodies. Sustainability reports also add a layer of accountability to the food companies. Consumers can see in writing the goals that the companies have set, which puts more pressure on the companies to meet those goals.

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