To that end, Shearer’s has developed a sustainability mission statement: “We strive for the world of Shearer perfection. This passion for the better world is evident in our products, our people and our commitment for a more prosperous future. At Shearer’s we provide Goodness Beyond the Bag.”
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Millennium Manufacturing has enjoyed four additions since the original building was completed. The second and most notable expansion, completed in 2011, added 64,000-ft.2 at a cost of $12 million. “This 2011 addition was constructed with at least 22 percent recycled materials,” Schwerdtfeger notes. “The initial investment of $40 million had a return on investment based on energy savings of about three years.”
The Millennium Manufacturing building features R50+ insulation, argon encapsulated windows, Forest Stewardship Council-certified materials, extensive day lighting and controls, thermal comfort controls, and continuous outside air monitoring. “We have a white roof and parking lot to lower building temperature,” Schwerdtfeger says. “What’s more, indigenous plantings account for more than 50 percent of our landscaping.”
Thanks to its innovative design, the Massillon facility uses 30 percent less energy in manufacturing, reduces water consumption by more than 30 percent and cuts oven gas usage by 47 percent, Schwerdtfeger says.
Company-Wide Green Accomplishments
Shearer’s Snacks set the corporate goal of sending less than 1 percent of waste to the landfill and to ship non-sellable, non-usable edible materials for animal feed. “These efforts helped us to divert 24 million pounds of waste from the landfill in 2014,” Schwerdtfeger relates. “Six of our factories reached zero waste status in 2014, with recycling revenues reaching almost $2 million last year.”
With regard to utility consumption, Shearer’s 2014 corporate goals for reduction of natural gas, electric, and water consumption were set at greater than four percent annually. “We actually had a 9 percent reduction in water use over 2013, a 6 percent reduction in electric use, and a 4 percent reduction in natural gas use,” Schwerdtfeger says. “We enjoyed a $600,000 savings from our utility conservation efforts in 2014.”
At Millennium Manufacturing, specifically, water conservation features the process water innovations of low water corn cook, push water recycling, and low flow nozzles. The building water program includes the aforementioned waterless urinals and also sanitation wands. As for reclamation, the 17,000 gallons of rainwater harvested from the roof each month is used for the facility wash rooms.
Also at Millennium Manufacturing, Shearer’s pulls starch out of water, dries it and sells it for revenue. The water is then cleaned, treated, recycled, and reused as rinse water for cleaning.
Wastewater at the Massillon plant is treated via anaerobic digestion. “This makes our operating costs significantly less than if we used a more traditional wastewater treatment,” Schwerdtfeger says. “That’s because we don’t use chemicals or air blowers. Ours is a more efficient process, with less maintenance, especially since there is very little byproduct of the treatment process to deal with.”
Shearer’s plan is to use the methane gas byproduct as an alternative fuel to power some of the factory processes, Schwerdtfeger mentions.
Schwerdtfeger is quick to point out that Shearer’s Snacks is committed to the human element of sustainability as well. “We offer a wellness program to all of our employees, along with incentives for participation,” he relates. “We provide free ongoing, onsite medical clinics for our associates at all of our U.S. plants. We also have financial incentives for meeting healthy biometric targets.”
Schwerdtfeger adds that all Shearer’s Snacks team members, company-wide, are fully invested in another vital component of sustainability, namely openness to change and a willingness to embrace sustainability as an integral part of company culture. “Shearer’s is not afraid to install new equipment with a serial number of 1, meaning new innovative designed building and process equipment,” Schwerdtfeger says.