Nov. 21 2011 08:38 AM

Hilmar Cheese believes in a multifaceted approach to sustainability

Hilmar Cheese's interactive displayHilmar Cheese recently was awarded a Certificate of Merit in the Corporate Communications category by the Central Valley (California) Public Relations Organization. The 50-foot-long exhibit at the plant's visitor center in Hilmar, Calif., is colorful, interactive, and engages multiple senses. It educates children (ages 7 and older) and adults about milk, dairy in the diet, processing of cheese and whey, and the sustainability of the entire process. While an attractive display gives quality face-time to consumers, it is the story behind the exhibit wall that is the true award-winner. Hilmar has made a conscious effort to promote sustainability and execute it in its facility.

The sustainability of any organization relies on many factors. In its recently completed 2010 Sustainability Report, Hilmar Cheese focuses on water resources, its employees, its community, and education.

• 70 percent of the water used in its California facility is recycled water
• 45,000 hours are spent on training its growing number of employees
• 7,000 pounds of cheese is donated to local food banks and hunger-relief organizations
• 15,000 students participate in its educational programs in addition to countless people who stop at the Visitor Center.

A commitment to community and sustainability
The Hilmar Cheese facility is located just off a major highway in Central California. Yet, it is surrounded by farmland and a thriving agriculturally dependant community. They recycle and reuse cardboard, shipping containers, and plastics with the goal of zero waste. They work with suppliers to continually improve the packaging and transportation efficiencies to reduce waste where possible.

Hilmar partnered with the University of California at Davis to help build a new milk processing lab. Developing new technologies and educating the next generation benefits the industry and all consumers. Long-term employment at Hilmar is commonplace, as you can see in the report. Hours of training and emphasis on safety are key contributors to Hilmar's "people sustainability."

Recently, Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc., was awarded the 2011 Outstanding Corporate Donor in Philanthropy by The Yosemite Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Their contributions were not just agriculturally based, but included the arts and Hospice care contributions. "We are honored to receive this recognition," commented Richard Clauss, chairman of the Hilmar Cheese Company board of directors. "It is our responsibility to improve our local communities not just by providing jobs, but also by contributing to a variety of local organizations that make a difference for others.

All of the discharged water from the facility is used for crop irrigation. And the chart below demonstrates Hilmar's Environmental Stewardship water recycling wheel. Starting with the dairy cow, water eventually goes full circle and returns to the feed she consumes. Think of this wheel when taking about the environment to neighbors, businesses, and employees. We all need to be reminded of the positive things we contribute to our communities and our daily conservation efforts to our natural resources.
Hilmar Cheese Environmental Stewardship chart

Learn more about Hilmar's Sustainability Practices and its Environmental Stewardship.