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Eco-Business Guidance Paper

Introduction

This research paper analyzes General Mills Inc., and it will describe the appropriate eco-strategies and actions for this company. The paper will provide the description of the business and explain the primary environmental impacts. It will also provide the recommendations for addressing these issues and identify short-term and long-term objectives and actions General Mills, Inc. should take.

Business Description

General Mills, Inc. is an American corporation. It is engaged in the food production sphere. The corporation, which is headquartered in Golden Valley, Minnesota, is among the greatest global food companies. General Mills provides a great number of various food services to different clients. They operate in many spheres including colleges and universities, restaurants and lodging, supermarkets, healthcare, and business. In fact, all these operators have trust in the foodservice and bakery provided by General Mills, Inc. (General Mills, 2013a). The corporation sells a great number of high quality and popular brands such as Pillsbury, Lucky Charms, Betty Crocker, Green Giant, Totino’s, Yoplait, and Old El Paso. The corporation works with organic products from Muir Galen and Cascadian Farm. Actually, the corporation incorporates more than 100 progressive and headmost U.S. brands and global leaders of food industry. General Mills, Inc. markets about 14 million of Natural Valley bars, 60 million of ready-to-eat cereal servings, 27 million of Yoplait dairy products servings, 5 million of Pillsbury cookies, several million of Wanchai Ferry dumplings, and several million pounds of Green Giant vegetables (General Mills, 2013a). The corporation manufactures its products in 15 countries. Moreover, General Mills sells these products in more than 100 countries. General Mills, Inc. carries out its activities in three different spheres including bakeries, U.S. retail, and foodservice. Ready-to-eat cereals are marketed through a special joint venture called Cereal Partners Worldwide. The U.S. retail segment of the corporation is realized through a wide range of membership stores, organic food chains, grocery stores, and mass merchandisers (Reuters, 2013). The bakeries segment of the corporation includes snacks, baking mixes, flour, unbaked and wholly baked frozen dough products, cereals, and refrigerated yogurt (Reuters, 2013).

Potential Environmental Impacts

The aim of the corporation is to reduce the negative environmental impact of General Mills, Inc.. Significant reductions were made during 2012. It is known that in 2012, the energy usage was decreased by more than 172 million kilowatt hours. Solid waste, which is generated in the process of General Mill Inc. operation, was reduced by approximately 17,000 metric tons. Moreover, greenhouse gas emission was decreased by 60, 000 metric tons in 2012 (General Mills, 2013b). The water usage was reduced by about 300, 000 cubic meters. The corporation did not receive any important compliance contraventions, monetary fines, or penalties (General Mills, 2013b). Nevertheless, the corporation plans to continue this strategy of negative environmental impact reduction. The main goals of the corporation are to decrease energy usage, solve the packaging issue, reduce the greenhouse gas emission, lower the solid waste generation, and reduce the transportation petroleum usage. General Mill, Inc. has serious plans for the future. The corporation has projected to do considerable reductions until 2015. General Mills, Inc. is committed to reach the goal of 20% decrease of the energy usage in 2015. The corporation uses 2005 as their major baseline year. The level of energy usage was approximately 600 kWh/ metric ton of product in 2005. The company wants to lower this level to less than 500 kWh/ metric ton of product in 2015. For example, it employs a special energy management in Australia. It has installed high efficiency lighting in Rooty Hill plan. This lighting is considered to economize approximately 865, 000 kWh annually. In its turn, this will lower the greenhouse emissions by, at least, 917 metric tons of carbon dioxide. It will economize US $133, 000 per year (General Mills, 2013b). Secondly, the corporation plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2015. The level of greenhouse gas emission was 0.23 metric tons of CO2e per metric ton of product in 2005. Energy conservation will help to decrease this number by 0.17 metric tons of CO2e per metric ton of product in 2015. The corporation also plans to reduce the emissions using low-carbon energy sources, namely solar energy (General Mills, 2013b). Thirdly, the water usage reduction will be realized through decreasing the general water consumption and water reuse. The company plans to reduce the level of water consumption by 20%, using 2006 as the baseline year. The level of water consumption was 2.7 cubic meters per metric ton of product in 2006. It should be reduced by 2.0 cubic meters per metric ton of product. It is already known that water recycling employed in company’s facilities saves approximately 380, 000 cubic meters of water each year (General Mills, 2013b). The corporation is concerned with solid waste generation. It plans to reduce the figures and keep the waste out of all land fields with the help of recycling, reduction and reusing. Its goal is to reach the objective of 50% decrease by 2015, using 2005 as the baseline year. The level of solid waste generation was more than 0.05 metric tons per metric ton of product in 2005. General Mills plans to reduce it by 0.025 metric tons per metric ton of product in 2015. For example, it stopped sending the waste generated in Berwick facility in 2012 and started managing it through the recycling and reuse. It helped to decrease about 328 metric tons of waste from the local landfills (General Mills, 2013b). Transportation fuel usage will be reduced by 35% in 2015 taking 2009 as a contrasting year (General Mills, 2013b). The last issue is packaging. The company uses four major indicators to estimate the improvement. They include recycling content and recyclability, truckload efficiency, compostable content, and packaging weight. The company’s objective is to reach 60% of the global product volume being sold in improved packaging, comparing to 2009 (General Mills, 2013b).

Strategy Recommendations

A number of strategies may be recommended for solving above-mentioned issues. The reduction of energy consumption may require implementation of such strategies as changing energy-efficient equipment, applying scheduled service for air conditioning and heating systems as well as adjusting them with timers, applying green initiatives, installing high-efficiency small-seized fluorescent lighting, and improving the energy efficiency of all facilities around the globe. The reduction of greenhouse gas emission will call for the improvement of energy efficiency by using low-carbon energy source and establishing Clean Energy facilities. The reduction of water usage will result from applying various strategies of water consumption reduction such as water reusing. The reduction of solid waste generation will require recycling of waste. Strategies for transport fuel usage encompass the improvement of transportation efficiency by the improved logistic planning, shift to less influential form of transport (using railroad transportation instead of truck transportation). The package issue may be solved with the help of utilizing renewable and compostable materials increasing their recyclability as well as decreasing the package-to-product ratio.

Action Plan

The action plan will require General Mills, Inc. to set a short-term objective of solving all environmental issues by 20% by 2015, taking 2005 as the baseline year. The long-term aim is to reduce the negative environmental footprint by 50%. First, it is important gaining the reduction levels. Carbon dioxide emissions, which are related to the energy consumption, are to be reduced by setting goals for each action plan stage incorporating production and distribution. Secondly, it is crucial to decrease the greenhouse gases emissions other than carbon dioxide. The third step requires the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that are generated by product maintenance and realization operations. The third step requires the evolvement of environmental technologies directed at decreasing the mid-term and long-term negative environmental footprint. It requires the implementation of energy-saving technologies that can help to meet the goal of 2015 energy consumption reduction, together with the further improvement of existing technologies, which can intensify the energy-saving functions. Moreover, it is necessary to employ the energy management technologies. The fourth step for General Mills, Inc. requires the input of new resources of energy, namely solar energy. The fifth step is the reduction of packaging material waste. It encompasses the reduction of packaging material being littered, promoting the local secondary markets for used packaging materials, and improving the collaboration between the supply and recovery chains. The action plan suggests taking three main long-term actions. The first encompasses design, in terms of optimization of the packaging in order to achieve the efficient use of resources and reduced negative environmental footprint without compromising product safety and quality. The second goal is the recycling and efficient collection of the packaging. The third goal involves the product stewardship, which will result in reduction of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Conclusion

General Mills is a global corporation. Therefore, its environmental footprint might be sustainable without implementing serious environmental impact reduction strategies. The main areas that need particular attention are energy consumption reduction, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, water consumption reduction, solid waste generation reduction, transportation fuel usage reduction, and packaging footprint reduction. The research paper has provided a number of strategies that may be implemented for reducing the negative environmental footprint including the usage of green initiatives that improve the energy efficiency of all facilities around the globe; the reduction, reuse, and the recycling of waste; ensuring proper packaging improvement; etc. The paper has provided the action plan for General Mills, Inc., encompassing short-term and long-term objectives. The short-term objective is to reduce environmental impact by 20% in all above-mentioned spheres, and the long-term objective requires 50% reduction, taking 2005 as the baseline year.

References

  • General Mills (2013a). Company. Retrieved from

http://www.generalmills.com/en/Company.aspx

  • General Mills (2013b). Global responsibility 2013. Retrieved from

http://www.generalmills.com/~/media/Files/CSR/2013_global_respon_report.ashx

  • Reuters (2013). General Mills Inc (GIS). Retrieved from

http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/companyProfile?rpc=66&symbol=GIS