NORTHFIELD, ILL. — As part of its company-wide sustainability efforts, Kraft Foods, parent company of Oscar Mayer and other food brands, is finding alternatives to trucking and making its distribution network more efficient. As a result, its sustainability projects have saved the company more than 50 million miles in its global transportation and distribution network since 2005, the company claims.

"We think about miles, piles and idles when moving our product," said Steve Yucknut, vice-president of sustainability. "We're finding ways to drive fewer miles, reduce inventory piles and eliminate idling trucks. We're collaborating with customers and suppliers. And we're using a number of high-tech innovations for our trucks and warehouses to reduce energy and CO2 emissions."

Here are several examples from Kraft Foods global operations:

  • In Brazil, employees saved nearly 250,000 miles (390,000 km) and reduced 300 tons of CO2 emissions by using boats to send products to distribution centers. In just six months, the change saved more than 125 truck shipments;
  • In Austria, Kraft Foods saved more than 150,000 miles (nearly 250,000 km) by sending products in refrigerated containers on railcars, eliminating 400 truck shipments and reducing 250 tons of CO2 emissions;
  • In the United Kingdom, the company now sends products to one of its key customers by train instead of truck, saving more than 40,000 miles (nearly 70,000 km) and eliminating 120 truck shipments; and
  • In North America, Kraft Foods has purchased 11 hybrid direct store delivery vehicles for frozen products. The hybrid power train and electric refrigeration technology use up to 30% less fuel than a traditional truck. And in Mexico, the company has pioneered a double-decker transport system that allows trucks to safely carry up to 56 pallets in one load — twice as many as before.

Kraft Foods has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to benefit from the latest technology and share best practices. Earlier this month, the E.P.A. awarded Kraft Foods for its environmental excellence, innovation and creativity. As part of its participation in the EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership, the company has adopted no-idle engine policies at its shipping locations, piloted a hybrid frozen delivery truck program and increased its use of intermodal (rail and barge) transport.

Using Oracle Transportation Management to create Project M.O.S.T. (Management of Optimized Sustainable Transportation), Kraft Foods measures truck movements and designs new trip segments to minimize "empty miles," eliminating more than 500,000 miles (800,000 km) last year. Now, Kraft Foods' private fleet and its top 50 carriers use the software and Oracle has recognized the company for its work with its 2009 "Enable the Eco-Enterprise" award.

Kraft Foods' 20 largest plants and distribution centers in North America use software from Transportation/Warehouse Optimization to maximize product per truckload, taking the equivalent of 1,500 trucks off the road and more than a million miles (1.6 million km) off the highway system.