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Frito-Lay’s snack production goes green


CASA GRANDE, Ariz. Frito-Lay’s parent company, PepsiCo, is attempting to get its Casa Grande plant, used in the production of Doritos and Lay’s potato chips, to generate its own power and recycle water at the facility, a step toward “green” snack production.

“Our ultimate goal will be to get the plant off the water, natural gas and electricity grid ... Creating a ‘net-zero’ environmental impact,” said Al Halvorsen, the energy and utilities manager for Frito-Lay.

Though company officials don’t have a cost estimate yet, they say the expense will be justified in what they learn about conservation. Though the company may not build another net-zero plant, they plan to take what they learn at the Casa Grande plant and apply that knowledge to its 37 other facilities in North America. Currently, the Arizona plant reuses its water to grow feed crops on some of its surrounding acreage.

To further conservation efforts, the plant will install a water-cleaning system that will allow it to reuse most of its industrial water to wash vegetables, a solar-power project is planned and the plant will incorporate a biomass-burning energy generator. Details as to whether Arizona Public Service or Frito-Lay will run the power facilities still are being worked out, according to Halvorsen. The final plan for the plant will be submitted to PepsiCo in March, with a “net-zero” operation expected to start running in 2010. The effort will add some marketing mileage for the company—the plant will add SunChips to its lines, providing a good tie-in for its solar project.

Some of the company’s other plants currently employ some efforts to save energy, including a Texas plant that burns landfill gas to heat its boiler and one in Connecticut that recaptures some of its heat to make steam. The company’s largest distribution center in the country, located near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, recently added a solar-power system. Dedicated to conservation since 1999, the company also is developing hybrid delivery vehicles.

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