Here at King Arthur Flour, we recognize that businesses can have big impacts on the natural environment; and that presents an important opportunity – a responsibility, we believe – to examine and address those impacts in hopes of enhancing rather than degrading the environment in which we all live and work.
We’ve diligently worked on projects at our facilities in Vermont, from recycling and composting, to reducing our use of energy. In 2009, in an effort to better understand the broader environmental impacts of our company, King Arthur Flour worked with Esty Environmental Partners to undertake an environmental audit investigating everything from the farming of our wheat to customers baking with our products. Through this audit we’ve identified the areas of biggest opportunity for improvement, and we’re working to find ways to lessen those impacts. It’s a commitment we make to ourselves, our communities, and generations to come.
As part of our efforts to minimize our company’s environmental impacts, we’re continually assessing our systems and behaviors within the confines of our own facilities. While these may not be our biggest impacts, most are relatively easy to address, and they raise the visibility of and commitment to environmental stewardship among our employee-owners.
We’ve worked with Efficiency Vermont since 2007 to audit our energy use and identify potential improvements both big and small. As a result, we’ve replaced light fixtures in our warehouse and elsewhere to save more than 65,000 kWh of electricity per year; installed occupancy sensors on lights in many common areas; replaced some appliances with energy-efficient models; and continue to seek opportunities for further reduction in energy use. As we plan a major expansion at our facilities, we’re incorporating energy-efficient design and materials wherever possible.
Like most businesses, King Arthur Flour produces some solid waste. From office paper and ingredient packaging, to coffee grounds and vegetable peels, we have a variety of waste to manage. In 2009, we implemented a zero-sort recycling system that enables us to toss all recyclables – papers, a variety of plastics, metal, glass – into one bin, making it simpler for employees to recycle. Food scraps from our café kitchen, bakery, and classrooms are picked up by a local farmer and used to feed her cows, pigs, chickens, and more. Coffee grounds and anything else we can’t send to the animals goes into our on-site three-bin composter. We’ve also eliminated most disposable kitchenware from our facilities, and we continue to remind employees that while diverting waste through recycling and composting is good, “reduce” is the first “r”!
There’s a lot we can do beyond energy use and solid waste to be better environmental stewards. Here at King Arthur Flour, we use GreenSeal-certified cleaning products that are environmentally friendly and better for the health of our employees; and we purchase them in bulk containers with refillable spray bottles, reducing waste. We use non-toxic food-grade lubricants on our manufacturing equipment, and recycled paper in our printers. And our no-idling policy minimizes air pollution coming from our parking lots.
Through the use of water, fuel, fertilizer, and pest and weed control, wheat farming is the biggest contributor to environmental impacts in the production of flour. While this area is not in our direct control, we work closely with the farmers who grow our wheat to encourage no-till and other environmentally responsible farming practices and good land management. We recognize this as the biggest area for potential improvement and are committed to addressing it with our farmers in the coming years.
We never waver in our commitment to our centuries-old tradition of purity, both for the consumer and the environment. We hold steadfast to our commitment to sell flour without the bleach, bromates, and other chemical additives most U.S. flour manufacturers include.
Transportation – of both our products and our employees – is another area rife with opportunity for lessening our environmental impacts. We provide information about local bus routes and ride-share programs, host a snack stop for Bike/Walk to Work Day, provide dedicated carpool parking close to our buildings, and have sponsored Green Commute Challenges to encourage employees to find better ways of getting to and from work each day. We also provide bicycles and helmets for employees to use for travel between our buildings, about 1.5 miles apart.