Today we’re welcoming guest blogger Al Halvorsen, Frito-Lay’s senior director of environmental sustainability, to share some exciting news about Frito-Lay’s commitment to sustainability and our progress at our manufacturing plant inCasa Grande, Ariz. Take it away, Al.  - Kristin

Today, I’m in Casa Grande, Ariz., – halfway between Phoenix and Tucson – to celebrate the success of our most ambitious environmental sustainability project to date; our Casa Grande facility is now one of the “greenest” and efficient manufacturing facilities in America.


A few years ago, Frito-Lay set out on a mission to transform one of our existing manufacturing facilities into one that could run primarily on renewable energy sources and recycled water, while producing nearly zero waste. We called this effort “Near Net Zero.” We chose the Casa Grande facility because of its location, where sunlight is plentiful and water conservation is important, and its size – big enough to be effective, yet small enough to be manageable. Frito-Lay invested in and implemented a combination of technologies to enable Casa Grande to significantly reduce the use of key resources, thus reducing the site’s overall environmental footprint. (The Near Net Zero team is pictured above; I’m second from the left.)

In 2010, the facility here at Casa Grande became the first snack food manufacturing facility to be certified LEED 2.0 Existing Building Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council. Using innovative technologies, our Casa Grande facility achieved significant reductions and is generating two-thirds of all energy used from renewable sources.  Specifically, we are working toward:

  • 50% reduction of greenhouse gases
  • 80% reduction in natural gas usage
  • 75% of water used in the plant is recycled

These reduction goals are truly impressive, and the Near Net Zero team from Frito-Lay headquarters and the Casa Grande site worked very hard to achieve them. To help you understand what an accomplishment this, I’d like to share a few additional facts about our Casa Grande plant:

  • The plant was built in 1984 and employs more than 350 associates, who produce nearly 100 million pounds of snacks a year. We make many of our fans’ favorites in Casa Grande, including
    Lay’s and Ruffles potato chips, Doritos and Tostitos tortilla chips, CrunchyCheetos snacks, Fritos corn chips and SunChips multigrain snacks.
  • In July 2010, the Near Net Zero team installed a water recovery/reuse facility at the Casa Grande LPRO_2site, which combinesMembrane Bio Reactor (MBR) and Lo-Pressure Reverse Osmosis (LPRO) technologies, to recycle up to 75% of all the water used in the facility. (LPRO pictured at right.)
  • The plant sends less than 1% of its waste to the landfill thanks to the recycling efforts of all the plant employees and by using food waste for cattle feed.
  • Five solar photovoltaic systems, covering 36 acres of the property, produce around 10 million kilowatts of electrical power each year, which is equal to the amount of power needed to run approximately 850 U.S. households each year.
  • A biomass boiler uses wood and agricultural waste as energy sources, and produces all of the steam needs for the plant. As a result, we’ve reduced the need for natural gas at our Casa Grande site by 80%.

Casa Grande isn’t our first site to employ technologies to help reduce our use of natural resources. Before “Near Net Zero,” we made sustainability strides at other Frito-Lay facilities, including in Modesto, Calif., where we added solar photovoltaic panels that help reduce our reliance on outside electric power and by installing a field of solar collectors to produce renewable thermal energy. We’ve SterlingEngine_Solaralso begun rolling out all electric route delivery trucks in metropolitan markets across the country, which emit 75% less greenhouse gases than diesel trucks.

Since 1999, we’ve created a great track record of reducing our energy and water use in our plants. The Casa Grande Near Net Zero facility is the culmination of those efforts. Moving forward, Frito-Lay will apply learnings from our Near Net Zero plant in Casa Grande, where it makes financial and environmental sense, challenging each of our more than 30 plants in North America to continue contributing to the reduction of the company’s overall environmental footprint. (Sterling engine solar equipment at Casa Grande, pictured above.)

This Casa Grande Near Net Zero Project has been a great collaborative effort between the plant and the headquarters engineering teams, and it highlights the deep commitment Frito-Lay and PepsiCo have made to reducing our impact on the environment. These milestones are especially meaningful to me too, as I started my career with Frito-Lay here at the Casa Grande plant in 1988.

I hope you can see, at Frito-Lay, we are committed to sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for our people and our planet, and we’re excited to share our latest milestones at Casa Grande with our fans!

- Al Halvorsen