Process and Operations / Sustainability

Kettle Foods Opens First LEED Gold Food Plant

Kettle Foods Inc., which has built a reputation on environmental consciousness, in September held the ribbon cutting on its second U.S. facility. The Beloit, Wis., plant is the first food plant to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The plant, which has been operating since April, is 73,000 sq. ft. and employs 95. On hand at the opening with Kettle President Tim Fallon were Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and Beloit City Manager Larry Arft.

"Kettle is committed to the values we hold dear in Wisconsin," said Doyle. The company got a $500,000 loan from the state's economic development agency and $510,000 in incentives from the Beloit area.

While there are 12 LEED gold plants in other industries, the energy used and waste produced in the food industry have prevented its plants from achieving that benchmark.

Among its environmental and energy claims:

  • 100 percent of its used cooking oil, after being reused, will be converted into biodiesel.
  • 1.65 million gallons of water will be saved by filtering and reusing potato wash water.
  • Another 120,000 gallons of water will be saved by diverting excess filtered water to facility restrooms.
  • More than 35 percent of the building materials were harvested, manufactured or extracted within 500 miles of the plant.
  • 14 percent of the building materials had recycled content.
  • More than 75 percent of construction waste materials were recycled or salvaged.
  • 90 percent of employees can see the outdoors from their workstations.
  • 5 acres of surrounding land is being restored to native prairie.

The plant has 18 wind turbines on its roof, which generate 28,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to produce 56,000 bags of potato chips. While that's a drop in the bucket, 100 percent of the plant's electricity is offset by wind power credits. Kettle's Salem, Ore., headquarters and plant also offset all their electricity needs with wind power credits along with a large solar cell array on the plant's roof.

The Beloit plant will supply previously underserved markets east of the Mississippi River. Kettle was invigorated with private equity funding in 2006 when it was bought by London-based Lion Capital. As a result, Kettle chips also are manufactured in England for European markets.

Learn more about the U.S. Green Building Council at

Attend "Greenbuild" Nov. 7-9, "the world's largest conference and exposition dedicated to green building," in Chicago's McCormick Place. Former President Bill Clinton will deliver the opening keynote speech. More at

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