solar rooftop at Frito Lay plant

Frito-Lay, best known for its snack chips, achieved their “most ambitious sustainability project to-date” with the reopening of an Arizona plant the company calls the “greenest manufacturing facility in the U.S.”

Its goal was to transform the existing facility in Casa Grande to reach a “near net zero” energy and waste footprint so that it would be as far “off the grid” as possible and run primarily on renewable energy sources and recycled water, while producing nearly zero landfill waste.

Frito-Lay invested in a combination of technologies to enable the Casa Grande plant to significantly reduce the use of key natural resources and reduce the site’s overall environmental impact. The facility is now generating 2/3 of all energy used from renewable sources and is working toward further reductions in water and natural gas usage, as well. It also became the first existing food manufacturing site to achieve LEED Existing Building Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Water Reduction:  The Casa Grande facility installed a water recovery and reuse system that uses Low-Pressure Reverse Osmosis technologies to recycle from 50% to 75% of water, resulting in water pure enough for drinking.

Electricity Reduction:  Five separate solar photovoltaic systems installed throughout the property, produce nearly 10 million kilowatt-hours of electrical power. Two fields of 18,000 tracking solar panels were installed on 36 acres of the facility’s agriculture property. All available rooftops are covered, including the parking lot.

Natural Gas Reduction:  The newly installed 60,000 pounds per hour biomass boiler, which burns wood and agricultural waste as its energy source, will produce all the steam needed for the manufacturing plant and will reduce natural gas usage by over 80%.

Zero Landfill:  As of 2010, the Casa Grande facility sends less than 1% of its overall waste to landfill through extensive recycling and using food waste for cattle feed.

Water reuse recycle vat - Frito-Lay photo“As a company that relies on key natural resources like water and fuel, Frito-Lay has developed strategies to ensure our business remains sustainable, even if there are constraints on those resources,” explains Al Carey, past CEO and president, Frito-Lay North America. “Frito-Lay and its parent, PepsiCo, are committed to finding innovative solutions that are right for the business and right for the environment. The ‘near net zero’ project is an industry-leading example of how the two successfully intersect.”

Moving forward, Frito-Lay wants to transfer what works at the Casa Grande plant  to its 32 other facilities “where appropriate”. Every Frito-Lay plant is identifying projects and approaches to get closer to “near net zero” and to significantly reduce its environmental footprint.

For more than a decade, the company has nearly reached or exceeded its aggressive conservation goals, based on 1999 levels, to reduce water use by 50%; natural gas by 30%; and electricity by 25%. In addition, the company created an environmental strategy for its fleet to reduce fuel use by 50% by 2020.

Frito-Lay Casa Grande has been part of the Pinal County community for more than 25 years employing more than 350 people to make Lay’s and Ruffles potato chips, Fritos corn chips, Tostitos, Doritos, and more.


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