Twin Falls, ID Area Companies Strive to Improve Sustainability

Businesses innovate, conserve to protect environment

By Kevin Litwin on Sat, 11/26/2016 - 01:45

Fabri-Kal Corporation is looking to take sustainability to a new level. In fact, ground level.

The Kalamazoo, Mich.-based company, which opened a plant in Burley in October 2015, manufactures disposable cups and takeout containers used in the food service industry as well as packaging for consumer product companies. Fabri-Kal is developing a new 100 percent plant-based fiber material to make products for its popular Greenware line. The fiber material will be made largely from wheat straw after the wheat has been harvested.

“One of the reasons we established a plant in Burley is because there is a lot of wheat grown in the area, and we are a company that likes to lead with a sustainable message,” says Chuck Garlock, Fabri-Kal vice president of sales and marketing. “Our new ag-fiber packages will initially be used to make food service takeout containers. For example, instead of getting a hamburger packaged in a foam clamshell container, many consumers will eventually receive their fast food in plant-based material containers made in Burley.”

Clif Bar, Chobani & Glanbia

The Fabri-Kal sustainability initiative is one of many environmental efforts being embraced by companies throughout the Magic Valley. Clif Bar Baking Company of Twin Falls makes energy nutrition bars and strives for zero waste, water conservation and energy efficiency during its manufacturing process, including using 100 percent of electricity from renewable sources.

At the yogurt-producing Chobani plant in Twin Falls, officials have reduced the company’s water consumption and installed a reverse osmosis system to address odor concerns from whey waste. The company also works closely with cooperatives and local farmers to ensure the safety and humane treatment of the cows that provide Chobani with fresh milk.

Glanbia Foods (Glanbia is Gaelic for pure food), an Ireland-based company that has operated in Southern Idaho for 27 years, processes milk to produce cheese and value-added whey products. Twin Falls features a large cheese manufacturing facility as well as a Glanbia Cheese Marketplace storefront in downtown Twin Falls that sells five different cheeses to the public: Colby, Monterey, pepper jack, medium cheddar and mild cheddar.

“We utilize all the components in the milk that we use so there is very little waste, and we also focus on important issues like water conservation and animal welfare,” says Daragh Maccabee, executive vice president and CFO of Glanbia Foods Inc. “We strive to be a good corporate citizen throughout Southern Idaho. The way we run our business involves attention to social, economic and environmental aspects, and sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do.”

Plastic or Paper

Another company engaged in sustainability efforts is Clear Springs Foods, which operates a rainbow trout farm in Buhl. The trout are fed by an abundance of natural spring water and meal from certified sustainable fisheries, and the waste stream is managed through the manufacture of liquid Clear Organic-brand fertilizer and manure composting.

Novolex, in Jerome, oversees several companies under its corporate umbrella, including the Hilex Poly manufacturing facility in Jerome. Hilex Poly manufactures plastic bags for customers in the convenience store, deli, food service, grocery, hospitality, industrial and retail markets.The company is now concentrating more heavily on paper production.

The company also partners with the College of Southern Idaho to make the campus a central Magic Valley drop-off point for the recycling of plastic bags.

“We now offer a complete line of paper shopping bags in a variety of sizes and shapes for many markets,” says Liz McBride, human resources manager for Novolex in Jerome.

McBride adds that environmental efforts at Novolex plants include reusing all the scrap collected during the process of manufacturing bags.

“All of our companies implement efforts to recycle, reuse and reduce waste as much as possible,” she says. “These days – from making paper lawn and leaf bags to brown bags used for school lunches – we intentionally look to lower our carbon footprint wherever we can.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for 10 years, and is now...

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