Nov
15
2007

Coming soon to a couch potato near you: the green chip

Guilt-less pleasure?: Would you be more inclined to eat potato chips that are made with environmentally-friendly processes? Frito-Lay is hoping so as it converts the operations of one of its plants in Arizona to be more "green."
Guilt-less pleasure?: Would you be more inclined to eat potato chips that are made with environmentally-friendly processes? Frito-Lay is hoping so as it converts the operations of one of its plants in Arizona to be more "green."Courtesy Slice
Would you feel any less guilt eating a potato chip that you knew was made from mostly, if not all, environmentally friendly processes? Frito-Lay is hoping so.

The company is looking to retrofit a potato chip plant it has in Casa Grande, Ariz., to have an environmentally neutral process. Planners want to take the plant off commercial power grids and run operations on renewable energy sources and recycled water.

Among the new features that are set to be installed in the plant are water filters that would recycle most of the water used in preparing potatoes at the plant; 50 acres of solar units to generate electricity; and a biomass plant that would burn agricultural waste products to generate more energy for the plant.

If all the green goals were met, electricity and water consumption at the plant would be cut by 90 percent, natural gas usage would drop 80 percent and greenhouse gas emissions from the factory would be down 50 to 75 percent.

Cool, you say, but it’s gotta hike up the price of potato chips, right? Frito-Lay doesn’t think so. Major energy savings, especially as oil prices continue to climb, could mean cheaper chips for consumers.

Frito-Lay isn’t alone in taking this new “green” approach to producing its product. This New York Times story tells of other companies looking at similar approaches along with sharing more about Frito-Lay's plans.

Economic sense seems to be the latest chapter of the environmental movement. And more initiatives are being made to help companies find ways to save money while being more environmentally friendly.

Do you have any good ideas on how going green could save businesses money? Is this the best direction for the environmental movement to go right now? Don’t discuss among yourselves, but share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

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