Chip off the Old Grid: Frito-Lay's Facility Goes Co-Gen

Sunchips vending machine photo

Power = net-zero. Nutrient value? Photo by zoovroo via Flickr

A solar-powered manufacturing plant, renewable fuels, recycled water, alt-fuel vehicle fleet, and compostable packaging. Sound like the efforts of a municipal utility? No, it's snack-maker, Frito-Lay. So as your gut is digesting its multigrain rippled SunChips, the bag made of plant-based material will decompose in about 14 weeks in a hot, active compost bin or pile. Now, the latest in its green initiatives is off-the-grid.


Wanted: more greening of the power grid. Photo by Doug WW via Flickr

In Killingly, Connecticut, Frito-Lay's facility just installed a Co-Generation system that will generate almost 100 percent of its electricity. It converts waste heat produced for steam into the running of the factory, thereby getting off the congested Northeast Power Grid. Yet another way the corporation is reducing carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions to lower its carbon footprint.

The State of Connecticut and the Department of Energy (DOE) provided a grant as part of the Energy Independence Act, designed to encourage businesses and government agencies to install innovative systems. Not that the parent company, Pepsi-Co, needed the subsidy, but if it encourages this effort, others may follow. SunChips also helped rebuild the green city of Greensburg, Kansas.

Recently, SunChips also recently ran a greening contest, asking customers to submit earth-saving ideas it might consider funding. The five winning proposals received $20,000 to fund plans and will get profiled in National Geographic magazine.

The "Green Effect" winners are:

1. Green Classroom Party Kits. Submitted by Julian Elementary School in California
Instead of using disposable plates, cups, and plastic forks/spoons for the 25 some birthdays and holiday events each year (multiplied by 14-21 classrooms per school), the school will create a kit with washable white plates, clear cups, and silverware, in a rolling storage container for each classroom. Children will learn about the benefits of reducing the carbon footprint and a prototype will be made available to other schools to institute.

2. Low-income Green Home Makeover. Submitted by CarbonfreeDC
Eco-audits of homes will determine the most affordable carbon-reducing and money saving solutions for dwellings to be outfitted with CFL bulbs, programmable thermostats, weather stripping, low-flow showerheads, power-down power strips, water heater insulation blankets, and Energy Star-rated appliances. Workshops will show others how to DIY.

Also, there's the Canal Tricycle Recycling Co-op. Submitted by Canal Youth Concilio in San Rafael, California; the Hingham High School in Massachusetts greenhouse educational program; and the tree replanting of the Mountain Bark Beetle devastation zone in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Okay, tell me why more factories can't do this?

More on green Fritos:
Contradiction in Terms Dept: a Green Potato Chip
Frito-Lay Adds Over 1200 Fuel Efficient Vehicles to Fleet
What Do Lays Chip Bags And Classical Music Have In Common

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