As a global food company, water is critical to our business.
We work to understand water usage during every phase, from watershed to production, and identify opportunities to increase efficiency and conservation.
We are committed to improving the sustainability of water use throughout our supply chain:
- We introduced a water policy in 2014 to provide a framework for engaging with stakeholders and improving the health of watersheds that are critical to our business. It outlines our commitments and actions to address water use in our direct operations and in collaboration with suppliers and external partners.
- In 2015, we signed the CEO Water Mandate, joining a group of business leaders, governments and other stakeholders working with the United Nations (UN) to advance water stewardship.
Reducing water use at our operations
Our main uses of water at General Mills locations are as an ingredient, for cooling or heating and for cleaning and sanitizing equipment.
We take every opportunity to reduce consumption. For example, every production facility has a target to decrease water use by 1 percent each year, normalized to production.
We track water consumption at each of our locations to identify areas of high usage and opportunities for improvement:
- To better understand our opportunities to increase water usage efficiency, we have adapted the Five-Step Energy Reduction Process to also apply to water. During 2015, we launched this process at our Murfreesboro, Tennessee, site and plan to introduce it to our Carson, California, facility in 2016.
- Our Berwick, UK, dough-producing facility reduced water usage by 7 percent in 2015 – approximately US$40,000 annually – through changes in sanitation frequencies, staff training on equipment, increased use of dry cleaning methods and other enhancements.
- At our Carson, California facility, which is in one of our priority watersheds, water consumption data and regulatory requirements regarding dairy equipment sanitation were reviewed. Based on this analysis, the site modified its cleaning schedules and practices, which reduced water usage by almost 21,000 cubic meters and saved US$200,000 in water, chemicals and utility fees – without impacting product quality.
We share best practices across sites to maximize benefits companywide.
Managing water resources
General Mills is improving the sustainability of water use throughout our supply chain, including addressing the eight most at-risk watersheds affecting our business.
Approximately 99 percent of the water consumed to create and distribute our products occurs outside our direct operations.
The watersheds we access to meet the needs of our facilities also support demands from agriculture, municipalities, other industries and ecosystems; improving the health of these watersheds requires significant collaboration.
We collaborate with others to protect the water quality and supply that benefit our growers, communities and the environment.
We are advancing our efforts to address these larger issues through our partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Together, we are moving ahead with formulating and implementing our global water stewardship strategy as we identify additional partners to advance this work.