Our Commitment

At Schwan's Company, we take seriously our responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment. Our people know the commitment we have to this effort will help us improve our operations and benefits our communities and businesses.

In 2016, our environmental sustainability efforts focused on reducing our company’s impact on the environment in these key areas:

Read about our social, economic and environmental objectives and the actions we’ve taken to achieve them.

Delivering Efficiency on the Road

At Schwan's Company, we operate one of the larger privately held fleets in the United States with approximately 4,550 delivery vehicles and 50 long-haul trucks. We increase efficiency and reduce emissions by:

  • Using alternative fuels.
  • Seeking innovative methods for engineering our vehicles.
  • Participating in the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities program.

Implementing Alternative Fuels

We have been using cleaner-burning propane in our home-delivery fleet for more than 40 years. Currently, more than 70 percent of our 3,900 home-delivery trucks operate on liquid propane gas which has both economic and environmental benefits. In 2016, the use of propane rather than diesel allowed us to avoid the emission of more than 13,831 tons of greenhouse gases.

Engineering Our Fleet for Efficiency

Our team is incorporating trucks that are about 6,000 pounds lighter into our home-delivery fleet for a 36 percent improvement in fuel economy. The new trucks are being phased in over time and currently comprise about 48 percent of the home-delivery fleet. Our other efficiency techniques include:

  • Automatic shutdown on our trucks.
  • Using cold-plate technology rather than diesel power to keep foods frozen efficiently with our home-delivery fleet.
  • Optimizing temperatures in diesel-powered, retail-delivery trucks.

Engineering Our Routes for Efficiency

Our fleet teams have also re-engineered sales routes to make them more efficient. Re-engineered home-delivery routes led to an additional decrease of 17,181 tons of greenhouse gases and reduced total miles traveled by nearly 10 percent.

For the Long Haul

We have invested significantly in adding plug-in stations at distribution centers in Kansas and Minnesota. This enables us to use refrigerated trailers that can run on electricity when parked to avoid burning diesel fuel, saving about a gallon per hour. We also install “skirts” on all of our long-haul semitrailers to help reduce wind resistance and increase fuel efficiency.

Driving Efficiency in our Facilities

Our facilities play an important role in reducing our impact on the environment, and we are continuously looking for new ways to become more efficient. Over the past several years, many projects were completed at our facilities to manage energy usage and deliver efficiencies, such as:

  • Installed sub-metering systems that enable measurement on specific pieces of equipment at each production facility.
  • Installed better refrigeration controls in plant freezer systems.
  • Made LED lighting upgrades.
  • Implemented more efficient controls for high-pressure pumps and fans.
  • Implemented better boiler systems at two facilities.

Ultimately, these investments and more like them will help us achieve our goal of reducing energy usage in our production facilities.

Additionally, we have reduced energy usage at our 400 home-delivery distribution centers by 5.9 percent by optimizing freezer temperatures, upgrading freezer systems and implementing 22 lighting retrofits.

Waste Management & Recycling Matters

Our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment extends to waste management. We have recycled for several years and recently set aggressive goals for tracking and measuring our efforts by contracting with an outside industry expert to effectively:

  • Review our waste streams.
  • Right-size our containers.
  • Review our hauling numbers.
  • Drive efficiencies throughout our organization.

In 2016, we diverted more than 79 percent of our materials from the nation’s landfills by recycling 123,154 tons of materials, including:

  • Old corrugated cardboard
  • Plastic
  • Steel
  • Food waste
  • Waste water
  • Paper products

According to Republic Services, the total material recycled was the equivalent to reducing greenhouse gases by 38,554 metric tons and saving:

  • 56,655 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Nearly 68 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
  • 206,110 mature trees.
  • More than 84 million gallons of water.
  • More than 1.4 million gallons of gasoline.
  • 6.7 million gallons of oil.

Protecting Our Products with Less Packaging

Our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment extends to packaging. Since 2010, we have maintained a thoughtful campaign to review the packaging of our products and determine where we could reduce it while maintaining the quality of our foods.

Over the course of the seven-year program, the company has reduced the amount of packaging used with our foods by 9,949 tons. The majority of these gains were achieved by eliminating extra space in packaging and converting corrugated boxes to bags for specific items.

Responsible Sourcing and Expectations of Integrity

Schwan’s Company strives to be a responsible steward of the environment, and we expect the same from our suppliers. We seek business partners who comply with all laws and share our commitment to using resources responsibly. In accordance with our “Standards of Conduct for Business Partners,” we expect our suppliers to behave ethically, set goals for eliminating and reducing waste and maintain production facilities that address community, environmental and social needs.

Animal Welfare

We expect all livestock producers, handlers and processors to provide safe and humane treatment for animals within their care. Our company does not raise or handle livestock of any kind. However, as a food company, we are committed to protecting animals from unnecessary suffering by working with our suppliers to ensure animal-handling practices meet the highest industry standards and all federal and state livestock regulations.

All suppliers of Schwan’s Company must be aligned with the fundamental values expressed in the internationally acknowledged Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare. The Five Freedoms are:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst by ensuring ready access to fresh water and a diet that maintains health and vigor.
  • Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis of an injury or illness and treatment.
  • Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  • Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

Ultimately, our goal is to create a supply chain that adheres to and champions these fundamental behaviors of animal care and husbandry. It is our commitment to review and work with our supply chain to ensure the safest, best environment feasible for animal welfare because it is consistent with our core beliefs and it is the right thing to do.

Here is our approach and commitments to specific animal welfare issues:

  • Cage-free eggs. As part of a broader commitment toward sustainable sourcing, we have made a commitment to work toward a goal of achieving 100 percent cage-free eggs by the end of 2020.
  • Dehorning or tipping. Schwan’s, along with our dairy suppliers, has a long-standing commitment to ensure that the best care is provided to animals at all times. When dehorning or tipping cattle to ensure the safety of other animals and farmers, we expect our suppliers to follow best practices established by groups such as the American Veterinary Medical Association.
  • Pregnant sow housing. If gestation and farrowing crates are necessary to ensure the safety of animals and workers, we require our suppliers to follow standards set by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Sow housing and management systems should: provide every animal access to food and water; promote good air quality and allow proper sanitation; protect sows from environmental extremes; reduce exposure to hazards or conditions that result in injuries, pain, distress, fear or disease; facilitate the observation of individual sows to assess their welfare; and provide sows with adequate quality space that allows sows to assume normal postures and express normal behavior patterns. Schwan’s awaits further scientific studies prior to mandating crate free policies at this time.

Responsibly Sourcing Ingredients & Materials

Our goal is to responsibly source the ingredients and materials required to make and transport our foods to our customers. Here are some of our efforts:

  • Packaging. We have developed a comprehensive packaging program over the last five years with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which promotes sustainable forest management in North America and responsible procurement of forest products around the world. Currently, about 98 percent of our corrugate materials and 100 percent of our paperboard materials are SFI certified.
  • Palm oil. We use certified sustainable palm oil products as a portion of our edible oil consumption. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil provides certificates to ensure consumers that palm oil is sourced from certified producers who adhere to strict farming, handling and processing systems.

Fair Trade

Schwan’s Company subsidiaries support and require their suppliers to adhere to the "10 Principles of Fair Trade" as published by the World Fair Trade Organization. Our activities range from direct communication to collaborative efforts with suppliers to ensure they honor these principles in day-to-day operations.

Our 2016 Responsibility Report

Read about our social, economic and environmental objectives and the actions we’ve taken to achieve them.