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A Legacy of Sustainability

04/18/2016

A Legacy of Sustainability

As we celebrate 70 years in business, Rich Products also continues its sustainability journey. Our global workforce is 9,000 associates strong and they drive continuous improvements which are good for business and good for the environment – focusing on long term efficient use of resources, reducing waste, and creating products that delight our customers while minimizing our environmental footprint.

Sustainability isn’t new to Rich’s; it’s been part of our business since the company was founded in 1945. Recently, some important trends created a heightened sense of urgency for our company, including the impact of global climate change on agriculture and business risk associated with extreme weather, drought and other changes that affect the food industry.

A key driver behind our interest in developing a sustainability strategy was (and continues to be) rising customer expectations. So in 2008, we began taking a more formal approach by developing a long-term sustainability strategy to raise awareness and prioritize actions across the company. As a result, we’ve implemented new practices in the areas of energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste reduction at more than 20 facilities.

As you can imagine, there are no shortage of potential projects related to sustainability, so it’s important to focus on those that will have the greatest impact on both the environment and the business. As a frozen food manufacturer, electricity represents a significant part of our environmental footprint (and our utility bill) so that’s where we started.

Formal energy efficiency programs have been developed for all Rich Products facilities in US and Canada.  We started by gathering fact-based information to establish baselines for energy use at each plant. Then we collaborated with associates on what was working well and what could be improved.  By estimating costs, ROI, and resources to implement the ideas and including this as part of our strategic business planning process, we were in a better position to prioritize, fund, and sequence projects across the business.

Energy & Water Champions at each plant allow us to continually share best practices, collaborate on new initiatives, and establish improvement targets. We track progress against our baseline and measure total energy use as well as intensity. Energy efficiency has proved to be good for business and good for the environment – significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and positively impacting our bottom line.

Sustainably-sourcing ingredients is another key initiative, particularly for seafood, palm oil, and cocoa. Rich’s Environmentally Preferred Purchasing Guidelines help us systematically balance price, performance and environmental considerations in our purchasing decisions.

Waste reduction is another area of opportunity -- reducing waste at its source and continually looking for new ways to reuse and recycle.

Water (quality and quantity) is a growing concern, especially in some of our international locations, so that will receive increased attention in the future as well.

In addition to our corporate sustainability initiatives, Rich’s associates volunteer to serve on local “Green Teams” to implement grass roots efforts to reduce pollution and better our communities. These cross-functional groups of sustainability advocates use their creativity, influence, and passion for the environment to raise awareness and inspire others. Rich’s “Do What’s Right corporate value aligns with our sustainability philosophy.

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