Kettle Foods maintains one of the largest commercial solar arrays in the Pacific Northwest on top of its plant. It generates approximately 120,000 kWh per year (enough to make 250,000 bags of chips) and reduces annual CO2 emissions by 65 tons.
Then it looked at new uses for its own used cooking oils - primarily sunflower and safflower oils. "We recycle our cooking oil by having it processed right here in Salem by Sequential Biofuels into biodiesel, a diesel fuel alternative that powers three company vehicles and a delivery truck," explains Jim Green, who has the quirky title "Kettle Foods ambassador." "Biodiesel reduces our dependence on foreign-sourced oil and is completely renewable, and just our small fleet saves more than 4.5 tons in CO2 emissions each year."
In late 2006, the company made a financial commitment to wind energy, agreeing to purchase wind energy "credits" to offset 100 percent of its electricity use in the U.S. Although it will not directly use wind-generated electricity, Kettle will pay a premium to ensure that all the electricity used at the Salem plant (and one under construction in Beloit, Wis.) is replaced on the energy grid with power from wind farms, according to a company spokesperson.
"By purchasing 8.7 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy credits (RECs) annually, Kettle Foods will prevent more than 12 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution, the major contributing cause of global warming. That's equivalent to taking 1,000 cars off the road or planting 1,600 acres of trees," the company says.
The company buys the RECs through Renewable Choice Energy, a national provider of clean and renewable sources of energy, and also the broker used by Whole Foods Market in its commitment to offsetting the environmental impact of its electricity use with wind power.