ConAgra Foods announced today the winners of its 2009 Sustainable Development Awards. In total, the projects have reduced carbon emissions by more than 25,000 metric tonnes, eliminated 4,000 tons of landfill waste and seven million tons of packaging material, and conserved 348 million gallons of water during fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

One award was given in each of five categories. Climate Change and Energy Efficiency was awarded to the Milton, Pennsylvania, facility for its project of applying a ceramic coating to its cooker shells. The project reduced natural gas use by 27,070 MMBTU and reduced the temperature of plant machinery, improving employee safety.

The award for Water Resources – Conservation and Wastewater Management was given to the Gilroy, California, facility that implemented a water conservation program across multiple processes, saving nearly 146 million gallons of water in less than one year and reducing overall water use by 34 percent.

The company’s Archbold, Ohio, facility received the award for Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling. The facility implemented a grassroots recycling program that recycled more than 1,000 tons of material in six months, while improving employee safety by eliminating the need for a cardboard baler.

The Sustainable Packaging, Product, and Process Innovation award was given to the company’s Research, Quality and Innovation team for its use of recycled PET in frozen meal trays. The project is expected to divert more than eight million pounds of waste from landfills annually.

Lamb Weston, ConAgra Foods’ potato business based in Kennewick, Washington, received the Sustainable Marketing award for its program to communicate farm-to-plant-to-market sustainability performance and purchase Renewable Energy Credits to offset energy use associated with administrative facilities and the production of its products.

An additional “Sustainability Award of Excellence” was awarded to ConAgra Foods Helm and Oakdale, California, locations for demonstrating an overall commitment to sustainability. The Oakdale facility decreased natural gas use by more than 30 billion BTUs and recovered more than 19 million gallons of condensate water during the fiscal year 2008 production season. The Helm facility improved production energy intensity by 9 percent.

Winning submissions were awarded a $5,000 grant from the ConAgra Foods Foundation to put toward a sustainable community service project.

“The winning projects epitomize our goal to promote sustainable business practices,” says Gail Tavill, vice president of Sustainable Development at ConAgra Foods. “Our hope is that employees across the company will take ideas like these and build upon them to drive their own projects to help our environment and deliver solid business results.”

The company reintroduced its Sustainable Development Awards program in 2009 to drive and reward innovative approaches to sustainability that produce tangible results. Winners were announced at the 2009 Sustainable Development conference in Omaha, Nebrasksa, April 29.