Achieving Zero Waste with The Hershey Company's Todd Camp

This episode originally aired on June 6, 2014 on Green is Good Radio.

Today on GreenIsGood: Nearly 100% of Hershey's U.S. production occurs at zero-waste facilities. The company is dedicated to eliminating waste and finding energy conversion solutions.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good, and we’re so honored to have with us today Todd Camp. He’s the Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Relations from the iconic and great Hershey company. Welcome to Green is Good, Todd Camp.

TODD CAMP: Thank you, John. I’m happy to be here.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Hey, Todd. This is your first turn at Green is Good and, of course, Hershey’s first turn here, but before we get talking about all the wonderful and amazing and important things you’re doing at the Hershey company, can you please share with our listeners the Todd Camp journey leading up to this point and this great position you have at the Hershey company?

TODD CAMP: Absolutely, so I’ve been in this role about three years and prior to that, my background is actually in engineering, so I spent about 17 years in various engineering capacities from working directly in manufacturing plants to working in corporate with our various manufacturing facilities and either quality or efficiency improvements and that’s really what led me to and attracted me to this role. At the time when they were recruiting for this position, they wanted someone with a bit more of a technical background to drive more metrics and more of a process mindset to our corporate responsibility efforts and the stars aligned and I was pretty fortunate to land this position, like I said, about three years ago now.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: First of all, there’s nobody that I know, including myself and my family, that when they hear the Hershey company or eat your great products, it’s such a great feeling because it’s comfort food. It’s comfort sweets and I love your motto, ‘Share goodness’. That is one of the best mottoes I’ve ever heard and brand missions I’ve ever heard from a company and since we’ve been doing the show. It’s just one of my favorites and it really sticks out. Todd, I was looking at your latest CSR report. Can you share some of the highlights with our listeners? And for our listeners who want to follow along as we’re on, I’m on your website right now. It’s one of the best websites I’ve ever seen. It’s www.thehersheycompany.com. Go on to the sustainability section. Click on to that button and follow along here as Todd walks us through his latest CSR report and all the great highlights that are happening at the Hershey Company.

TODD CAMP: Yes, we certainly encourage folks to visit that URL and to learn a lot more about the Hershey Company than just what we have in our report but in terms of highlights, we’re really excited to share some of the progress we’ve made over the last five years in a few areas in particular, certainly cocoa sustainability is one we’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve nearly doubled our commitment to source certified cocoa. We committed to 10% and came in at 18%. Palm oil is another area that we’ve taken a leadership role. We achieved our commitment to source 100% sustainable palm oil a year ahead of schedule and then we upped our commitment to source 100% sustainable and traceable palm oil by the end of this year, which is pretty remarkable in terms of the palm industry. In terms of the environment, we achieved four of our 2015 environmental goals at least two years ahead of schedule and if we use 2009 as our baseline here, we’ve reduced our water use by 72%, our waste by 38%, our greenhouse gas emissions by 22%, and we achieved zero waste to landfill status at six of our manufacturing plants and five other facilities. We also talk a little bit about our commitment to giving back to communities including nearly $9.5 million in cash and products donations and about 200,000 volunteer hours just in 2013 alone.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wait a second. Let’s step back and walk through some of this. So you’re ahead of some of the goals that you set in 2011. You’re ahead of schedule. How did you rally the troops? How did you make this so important at the Hershey Company that everyone got behind the initiatives that you guys created and the goals and you overachieved and are actually ahead of schedule? How did you create that culture and that DNA at Hershey Company?

TODD CAMP: We attacked it on a couple of different fronts. We felt we had set some pretty aggressive goals back in 2011 so we had a lot of work to do so we first garnered our senior leadership support, which was extremely important in giving us the leeway and flexibility to make some investments in technology that allowed us to really drive down our environmental footprint and in a lot of cases, we relaxed our criteria for capital investment paybacks knowing that some of the investments we made in environmental technology were typically justifiable from a financial perspective. Our senior leaders relaxed that criteria and allowed us to have a longer payback period because they felt so strongly that these were the right things to do as a company. We also leveraged the creativity of our employees and we’re pretty fortunate at Hershey that if you give our employees a goal, they figure out a way to make it happen so we gave them the leeway to be creative and come up with new and unique approaches and that really all came together and was owned by various business branches and our various employees and they were a part of the process from the very start. That’s really what helped us accelerate the efforts we had set forth and we did all that during a time of growth, both from volume and sales growth, so we were growing in one sense and reducing in another, while maintaining the quality and consistency of our products that people have come to expect and that we view as the most important thing that we have.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, right from the top down, you’re saying everyone got behind this and that’s why you’re ahead of schedule and that’s why sustainability and the environment have taken on a large position at the Hershey Company and everyone’s winning then?

TODD CAMP: Absolutely. Sustainability at Hershey is really integrated into our business and it’s not a stand alone department. We only have a handful of folks that work in CSR directly and we rely on our employees around the world to help us guide and inform our efforts and really drive progress because it’s really part of our corporate culture from the very beginning so it’s something that our employees view as just the way that we approach business every day.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s so great. For our listeners that just joined us, we’re honored to have Todd Camp with us. He’s the Corporate and Social Responsibility and Community Relations Director at the Hershey Company. It’s thehersheycompany.com. I’m on their website right now. It is visually one of the most gorgeous websites I’ve ever been on and it reads so well because I clicked on the good business button and all the stories here that tie back to your CSR report and they’re all there so I know we can’t get to all of them today but for our listeners out there, I urge you to go on the site and look at all these amazing stories when it comes to sustainable cocoa and palm oil and everything that you’re doing. One of these has to do with zero waste and that’s a big issue now. One of the stories here I’m looking at says 97% of your facilities sends zero waste to landfill. Explain these numbers and what the whole zero waste to landfill goal is at the Hershey Company.

TODD CAMP: Absolutely. This is one of our shining stars, John, so today, 97% of our U.S. production occurs at zero waste to landfills facilities, like you mentioned, meaning that those facilities send no waste to landfill, quite simply and we really attacked waste through a systematic process. First, obviously we identified the various waste streams at each facility. We then drove down that waste as far as we possibly could to eliminate it all together. We implemented various projects to reduce waste and also to increase recycling and then with that remaining waste, there’s always going to be that remaining bit of waste, we found ways to either convert it to energy on site or work with local waste to energy facilities to ensure that we weren’t sending that waste to landfill, that if we weren’t reducing it or recycling it, it was turned back into energy to power either our facilities or someone else’s so we are pretty proud of this fact. Our employees are extremely proud. This is a real sense of pride for our employees in the facilities and we’ve actually spurred a healthy competition between our employees at multiple facilities to achieve that status and once they get it, they are keenly aware of that and they have made the process changes to maintain it and are vigorous in terms of protecting that status, to make sure they’re doing the right things for the environment and the plant itself.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: You know the old adage, Todd, ‘No good deed goes unpunished,’ so since you’ve achieved so many of your important goals with regards to the environment and sustainability at the Hershey Company, share with our listeners what’s next. How are you guys going to keep raising the bar there?

TODD CAMP: Well, we’re not satisfied. We’ve made tremendous progress and we acknowledge that. However, we feel like we can still do more and what we’ve done is essentially, reset the clock and our new baseline here is the end of 2013. That basically starts the clock at zero and we set new goals and fairly aggressive goals across the board with a target year of 2017 so working with our technical folks and our senior leaders, we’ve really set what we feel are incremental and fairly aggressive goals to continue to drive down our environmental footprint across the board.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: I love it and for our listeners out there again, we’ve got Todd Camp with us. He’s the head of Corporate Social Responsibility from the Hershey Company and on their website, thehersheycompany.com. I’m also looking at this wonderful fact under the better stories. We’ve helped increase cocoa farmers’ income by 70% over the past three years. That’s amazing. Share a little bit more. Go a little deeper. Since cocoa’s so much of an essential ingredient in chocolate and in your products at the Hershey Company, share a little bit more about the cocoa story.

TODD CAMP: Absolutely. This is probably over the past few years the area we’ve spent the most attention on and energy around and really, cocoa is a pretty complex commodity. It’s mostly grown in West Africa. Seventy percent of it is grown in West Africa in fairly remote parts of Ghana and the Ivory Coast and a few other countries. We’ve really relied on technology and leveraged that to basically provide cocoa farmers and their families with education to help drive increases in their yields and ultimately, their income and it’s just basic agricultural techniques, basic weather information, crop disease information, just basic information that they didn’t have access to before, which now that they do, are showing to have dramatic results and we just finished a three year impact study. Actually world education and international nonprofit finished a three-year impact study and found that, like you said, farmers in the cocoa link program, which is the one program we have that leverages mobile technology to get information to farmers. Those farmers increase their yield by 46% and their incomes by 70, like you mentioned, so we’re really leveraging technology to change the game for folks that are a vital piece of our supply chain and an important partner for us.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s wonderful. I see in your CSR report also there’s a very interesting project called, ‘Project Peanut Butter’ and all I know is if I worked at the Hershey Company, I’d want to be part of Project Peanut Butter. What does that mean and what does it mean with regards to the aim to save lives in Africa? Explain to our listeners please, Todd, Project Peanut Butter.

TODD CAMP: Absolutely. This is a project we’re really excited about and Project Peanut Butter is actually a nonprofit that’s been in existence for several years and they’ve been producing what are called ready-to-use therapeutic foods. They provide to malnourished kids in some pretty rural parts of the world and we decided to partner with Project Peanut Butter and fund the construction of a factory in Ghana to manufacture this ready-to-use therapeutic food for malnourished kids in Ghana itself and that facility is scheduled to open later this summer and will provide access to basically this nutritionally enhanced peanut butter to between 20 and 30 thousand kids per year. We really view this as an important project for our future but this was a purely philanthropic effort from the start but one that we feel is extremely important to continue our commitment to the well being of children, particularly those in need so this is a totally different approach that we’ve taken and we feel like it has a lot of potential to grow in the future and we have a lot of plans that we’re looking at to extend this project going forward. For now, we’re really excited to have this project almost cross the finish line that we really have these malnourished kids that need it most.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: What an important project. As you show on your website, there’s over 70,000 malnourished kids in rural Ghana and for you to be able to help a huge portion of these children every year with this great project, Project Peanut Butter, that just speaks volumes for the Hershey Company. That’s just awesome. I’m on your website and for our listeners out there, it’s thehersheycompany.com. It’s a great website and one of the best I’ve ever been on. I clicked on the good business button and I see a lot of pictures of your employees that are doing community activities and I’ll share a couple here that I’m looking at right now. Children’s Miracle Network is one of them and the United Way Campaign Fund that you guys raise money for. Can you share some of the employee engagement that happens at the Hershey Company, both domestically and worldwide with your employees and all the great work that you’re doing as a company?

TODD CAMP: Absolutely and you just mentioned our two primary employee campaigns, Children’s Miracle Network, which we’ve supported for 25 years and raised over $4 million for sick and injured children and United Way, which we’ve supported for really more than 50 years and last year alone raised almost $3 million for various nonprofits across the globe but really, our employees are the engine that drives our CSR efforts. Since the very beginning of our company, we’ve been committed to giving back to our communities and making a difference in the places where we live and work and we encourage our employees to engage in their local communities as well. They get several paid days off to volunteer each year and last year, we launched our first ever week of service, which we called, ‘Good to Give Back Week’ and that was a focus week of volunteerism and our employees were out in force in teams really making a difference in the places they call home. This year, we’re expanding this program to make it even bigger and more impactful and really at the heart of it we believe that engaged employees are happier. They’re more productive and we really strive to make our employees our CSR ambassadors and this is just one way that we do that. The employees love it and they get excited about it. They come with new ideas every year so it’s really at the heart of our efforts and something that is extremely important to what we do.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: We’re down to the last three minutes unfortunately, Todd, but I do want to mention for our listeners out there that don’t remember the genesis of the Hershey Company, it was founded by a great man named Milton Hershey and back at the early part of the century, 1918 or so, he committed his fortune to education and here we are in 2014 and education is still the future of America. That’s how ahead of his time she was. Can you share a little bit in the last two minutes or so all the great work that you’ve built upon and the great people at the company have built upon in terms of Milton Hershey’s legacy to education?

TODD CAMP: Absolutely and you’re exactly right on those dates. In 1918, he gave away $60 million, which is giving away a lot of money today obviously and that was about 30 years before he passed away so it was kind of unique in that regard but basically that was set aside solely to fund a school for underserved children. Today that’s one of the largest K through twelve schools, with about 2,000 kids coming from severe poverty or severe social risk and they’re also our largest shareholders so we have a pretty unique connection with one of the largest schools for underserved kids in the world. That’s not all. We’ve extended that commitment to really focus on education globally so wherever we have operations or groups of employees, we seek out partners and programs that support, particularly, underserved kids and the vehicle with which we do that is usually through education so that is something that again our employees understand this unique connection we have with education and they’re very excited to be involved with it in their local communities and we’ve literally donated millions of dollars every year to support educational programs for kids because we feel so strongly about that. It is our future, like you mentioned, and it’s been part of our very legacy and DNA at the company and it’s something we will extend for many, many years.

JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is just so great and Todd, thank you for coming on today. For our listeners out there, to learn more about all the wonderful and important things that the Hershey Company is doing, please go to www.thehersheycompany.com. Click on to any of the buttons I was talking about, good business, and enjoy their CSR report and enjoy their products and know when you’re enjoying them how much goodness they do for the whole world. Thank you Todd, for sharing all the sustainability goodness at the Hershey Company today. You are truly living proof that green is good.