We're chipping in to live in harmony with the environment around us, through a variety of sustainable business practices. The truth is, we all need to care for the planet. After all, it's where we grow all those fresh, natural potatoes.
At Kettle Brand®, we consciously use the healthiest sunflower and safflower oils, which is why we think it's fitting that we run a growing fleet of company vehicles on distilled vegetable oil, known as biodiesel. In fact, 100% of the waste vegetable oil from our production process is converted into biodiesel. This rich nectar that we like to call "Flower Power®" is a natural alternative to petroleum diesel fuel. Its use benefits all of us by saving as much as 8 tons in CO2 emissions every year.
On average, for every 7,600 bags of Kettle Brand® potato chips we produce, we create one gallon of waste vegetable oil. This waste vegetable oil is stored in a tank and, when enough accumulates, it is picked up and taken to a biodiesel production facility. That facility can make one gallon of 100% biodiesel for every gallon of waste oil we give them. 100% biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine, like in our fleet of bio-beetles!
In September 2003, to celebrate our 25th anniversary we created an inspiring rooftop view. We partnered with the Energy Trust of Oregon, Portland General Electric and others to install one of the largest grid-tied solar PV arrays in the Pacific Northwest (a 114 KW 3-phase system designed and installed by Advanced Energy Systems of Eugene, Oregon). Using more than 600 solar panels set on roof-mounted racks, our plant now generates more than 120,000kWh of electricity per year. That’s enough power to make 250,000 bags of chips and reduce annual CO2 emissions by 65 tons. Click here to see how much our solar panels have produced!
We're blowing off conventional energy sources with renewable wind energy. Since 2006, Kettle Brand® has been purchasing wind energy credits to offset 100 percent of our electricity use in the U.S. This annually prevents more than 13,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution (CO2), the major contributing cause of global warming. That’s equivalent to taking 2,700 cars off the road or the CO2 emissions of 1,200 homes for a year. In September, 2012, Kettle Brand® was the recipient of the EPA's Green Power Partnership award for our distinguished contribution in this area.
At our Gold LEED® certified factory in Beloit, WI, we also use wind power to produce electricity onsite. We installed 18 wind turbines that produce some of our production facility's power.
At Kettle Brand® we've always believed that good business can coexist with nature. Our commitment starts with using only the best, all natural ingredients and extends to our backyard where we work to preserve natural habitat, protect the environment and use energy responsibly. With every crunch of our Kettle Brand® Potato Chips, you're helping us make that dream come true.
In 2007, we opened the first LEED® Gold certified food manufacturing plant in the U.S. and we've been making Kettle Brand® Potato Chips there, on the scenic Beloit, Wisconsin prairie ever since.
In addition to a beautiful state of the art factory, our “green building” features provide annual energy savings (gas and electric) of 20 percent, translating to an estimated cost reduction of 110,000 on natural gas and 51,000 on electricity.
Other notable features include:
- Annual water savings of 34,000 due to reclamation systems capturing and reusing over 3.4 million gallons of water.
- Monthly recycling and conversion of 3,200 gallons of waste oil to biodiesel, an alternative fuel used to power our company fleet of diesel VW’s we call our BioBeetles.
- Annual reduction of more than 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the elimination of shipping lines between Oregon and the Midwest.
- Continuing our native prairie restoration resulting in the growth of new native plants and the return of prairie wildlife.
Part of our commitment to the environment includes taking a close look at how we package our products. Our packaging has traditionally been made up of several layers for protection from heat, light and air. But by removing the paper layer of our chip bags, we’ve reduced the material of the bag by 20%, saving over 22,000 trees annually and preventing over 450,000 pounds of packaging from going into landfills each year.
We’d love to one day make our packaging even more sustainable, like we’ve done in nearly every other part of our business. Currently, though, there are no packaging materials on the market that meet our high standards for protecting the quality and freshness of our product all the way to your favorite chip bowl. However, we are continually on the lookout for recyclable, compostable or biodegradable materials that can be incorporated into our bags. As technological advances allow for more sustainable packaging choices that work for us, we hope to be on the leading edge of those exciting trends as well.
Wetland and Prairie
The Kettle Brand® facility in Salem, Oregon is located adjacent to a nearly 2-acre wetland that serves as an overflow zone when nearby Mill Creek, a native salmon stream, overflows its banks. The area is home to many species of animal and plants. We’ve introduced native plants such as Aster, Camas, Red Alder, Lupine, and Sword Fern. We’ve also introduced aquatic plant species such as Wapato and Marsh Pennywort to enhance biological diversity in the wetland pond. In the process, a variety of native wetland animals have taken up residence, including a family of herons. Finally, we created a trail system for people to enjoy the area, complete with interpretive signs and benches for sitting and enjoying this natural area.
Surrounding our Gold LEED® certified factory in Beloit, Wisconsin we have planted five acres of native Tallgrass Prairie. This is the naturally occurring vegetation that
was endemic to the Midwest for thousands of years until the land was cultivated. When mature, the prairie will require very little care, needing no watering, fertilizing, or mowing, saving precious resources and attracting a variety of songbirds, and other native wildlife.
Like our potatoes, our community giving has roots. Since the early days back in 1978, we’ve looked for ways to help our neighbors. Today, we donate money, product and time to local organizations. Our efforts begin at the grassroots level - from donating chips for fundraising events at local schools to volunteering our time at area non-profits. Plus, every year we give more than 175,000 pounds of potatoes to local hunger relief agencies and Kettle Brand® products to schools and organizations such as The Wetlands Conservancy and the National Wildlife Federation. We call it chipping in.