Most of the topics we cover in Food Engineering each month focus on improving plant efficiency and achieving new levels of innovation using advanced technologies. Besides the great strides in plant automation, controls and software our industry has enjoyed over the past decade, the current era of sustainable food and beverage processing holds just as much value and promise. 
For this reason, I wanted to remind all of our readers about Food Engineering’s annual Sustainable Plant of the Year competition. Here are the judging criteria:
  • Sustainable building, design and site innovations
  • Energy usage, recovery and reuse
  • Water usage, reuse and treatment
  • Sustainable process optimization
  • Sustainable packaging initiatives
  • Sustainable innovation in equipment and technology usage
  • Sustainable warehouse, transportation and supply chain management
  • Employee safety, comfort and health initiatives
  • Community impact
  • Corporate sustainability mission statement implementation.
Any new food/beverage plant or major sustainable plant project that became fully operational in calendar year 2012 is eligible. The plant must produce processed food/beverage products designed for human consumption. 
To participate in this competition, plants do not need to be certified by LEED or any other organization. All sustainable food and beverage plant projects completed in 2012 are eligible.
A detailed narrative of a maximum of 10 pages in length and images in support of the entry are required. The narrative should document the ways in which the plant excels with reference to the stated judging criteria. However, if there are additional relevant matters that go beyond these criteria, please include them in the narrative. These might include: onsite recycling; unique employee participation programs; special state and local offsets/incentives or carbon footprint buy-back programs; energy recapture systems (such as CHP, exhaust economizers, stainless steel motors); biogas recovery via anaerobic/aerobic systems; wind and solar (real or purchased credits); use of biofuels from oil; special efforts involving various utilities—electric, gas, compressed air, water, oil; or any other techniques that have a positive environmental impact.
The deadline for entries is June 3, 2013. To joins the ranks of past winners such as Frito-Lay Casa Grande, Stahlbush Island Farms and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., visit for entry forms and more information. Sustainable processing is not only good for the earth and its inhabitants, it provides a better bottom line for all processors.