Frito-Lay Facility Uses Sustainable Technology to Harness Resources, Slash Costs

Oct 26, 2011 4:30 PM ET

Frito's Casa Grande facility uses technology to harness resources, slash costs

SunChips straight from the fryer tumble through barrels of onion, cheese and salsa flavoring, while robotic bagging machines seal the fresh chips and pack them into boxes ready to load on Frito-Lay trucks.

Half the electricity used to power the robotic equipment comes from five solar-power arrays outside the Casa Grande chip factory. Eighty-five percent of the natural gas previously used in the massive cooking machinery has been replaced with a wood biomass-burning facility. And about 75 percent of the water used to wash the potatoes, corn and grains before they're cooked will get recycled in an on-site treatment plant.   Welcome to Frito-Lay North America's "near net zero" facility about 50 miles south of Phoenix, where the snack food giant PepsiCo is researching how it might keep its production costs down in a world of ever-increasing power and water rates.   "We look at this as a business operating necessity of the future," said Al Halvorsen, senior director of environmental sustainability for Frito-Lay North America. "We want to prove this technology before it becomes a necessity."   Unlike many renewable-energy projects where the builders look to recover their investment within a matter of years through reduced power bills, Halvorsen said Frito is not looking to recover its "substantial" investment in Casa Grande through water and energy savings alone.   "This is not a typical two-year or three-year payback project," Halvorsen said.   Frito doesn't plan on making all of its 36 North American factories as efficient as Casa Grande, but parent company PepsiCo is likely to use lessons learned in Arizona whenever its worldwide expansion plans are threatened by water restrictions or utility prices, he said.   To continue reading about the sustainable Frito-Lay manufacturing plant on, click here.  

About PepsiCo 
PepsiCo offers the world's largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands, including 19 different product lines that generate more than $1 billion in annual retail sales each. Our main businesses -- Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay, and Pepsi Cola -- also make hundreds of other enjoyable foods and beverages that are respected household names throughout the world. With net revenues of approximately $60 billion, PepsiCo's people are united by our unique commitment to sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and our planet, which we believe also means a more successful future for PepsiCo. We call this commitment Performance with Purpose: PepsiCo's promise to provide a wide range of foods and beverages for local tastes; to find innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment, including by conserving energy and water usage, and reducing packaging volume; to provide a great workplace for our associates; and to respect, support, and invest in the local communities where we operate. For more information, please visit