Frito-Lay North America’s Casa Grande, Ariz., reached its “near net zero” goal of running primarily on renewable energy sources, including the production of nearly zero landfill waste.

The PepsiCo division called it the division’s most ambitious environmental sustainability project: Take an existing facility “off the grid” and as much as possible run primarily on renewable energy sources and recycled water. Frito-Lay applied a combination of technologies to allow the Casa Grande plant to significantly reduce the use of key natural resources and reduce the site's overall environmental footprint. The facility is generating two-thirds of all energy used from renewable sources and is working toward a 50-percent reduction in greenhouse gases; recycling 75 percent of its water; and reducing its natural gas consumption by 80 percent, Frito-Lay said in a news release.

The company said in 2010 the Casa Grande facility sent less than 1 percent of its overall waste to landills through extensive recycling and using food waste for cattle feed.

Through the project the Casa Grande facility became the first existing food manufacturing site to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

"As a company that relies on key natural resources like water and fuel, Frito-Lay has developed strategies to ensure our business remains sustainable, even if there are constraints on those resources," explains Al Carey, past chief executive officer and president, Frito-Lay North America. "Frito-Lay and its parent, PepsiCo, are committed to finding innovative solutions that are right for the business and right for the environment. The 'near net zero' project is an industry-leading example of how the two successfully intersect."

Frito-Lay said it plans to take what it’s learned from the Casa Grande plant and apply them to other facilities where appropriate.