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Hershey’s Denio Alexandre D. Ponce on How Employees in Brazil are Creating Long-Lasting Change for the Environment

Originally published at Denio Alexandre D. Ponce is a Supervisor, Industrial Projects and Engineering at Hershey Brazil. The Hershey Company ranked No. 10 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.


I’m proud of our science-based targets and ambitious goals to significantly reduce GHG emissions reach each one of our Hershey teams around the world — from our headquarters in Hershey, Pa., to our manufacturing plants in Memphis, Stuarts Draft, Virginia or in this case, São Roque, Brazil — to find innovative ways to create positive change. Increasing the energy efficiency of our facilities and investing in clean, renewable energy are important parts of how we will reach these goals announced in spring 2021. To drive progress against our commitments, each Hershey facility has a designated Energy Champion, responsible for implementing carbon savings, meeting energy conservation goals, promoting employee engagement and identifying opportunities for energy reduction and efficiencies.

Our holistic ESG strategy is activated by the Hershey Green Teams: Groups of Hershey employees around the world who come together with a shared interest in leaving the planet in a better condition than when we found it and helping Hershey do its part.

We’re also partnering with external experts to drive our efforts forward and hold ourselves accountable to change. In 2021, Hershey partnered with ENERGY STAR and joined the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry, committing to reducing energy intensity in our facilities by 10 percent within five years. The program calls upon employees in each of our facilities around the world to actively engage in emission reduction initiatives as part of day-to-day operations.

Reducing Energy Intensity in Brazil

As the Energy Champion in São Roque, I’m always looking for opportunities to reduce our environmental impact due to the climate change risks in Brazil. This effort extends well beyond my role as the entire team is always looking out for ways to make a difference. To start this project and raise employee awareness of the initiative and potential impact, we evaluated a series of activities with team members from across the plant and empowered each of them to look for opportunities for energy reduction — this proved to be an important part of building an environment of continuous improvement. The team immediately started activating on the opportunities to reduce our consumption (which also reduced our energy costs) through process and equipment optimization, lighting upgrades and the addition of automated timers to reduce the duration of motor run time. Upgrades to instantaneous steam generation reduced our consumption of natural gas when compared to former processes. The impact of these changes was a 10% reduction in energy intensity four years ahead of schedule.

In the United States, we also joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings, Better Plants Program to leverage the program’s energy management tools and identify energy saving opportunities. Through this program, we aim to reduce energy intensity throughout our U.S. manufacturing operations by 20% within 10 years. In tandem, we are accessing and leveraging additional energy management tools to further uncover energy saving opportunities.

One Piece of a Deeper Impact

Here in Brazil, I am proud to be involved in these initiatives, not only for what the impact of achieving these goals will mean for our company and beloved products, but also for the impact on our community and myself as well. The time for action against climate change is now. São Roque is facing our biggest water crisis in more than 90 years. In response to the water crisis, our teams took a similar approach to the energy reduction project: We focused on increasing employee awareness to create swift change and spur conservation. In 2020, we installed an automatic composter to convert organic waste from the cafeteria into compost that we donate to local socio-economic projects or for employees to use in their own gardens.

All these efforts (combined with the many efforts of Hershey Green Teams and employees around the world) make a tremendous impact and one that is meaningful to me in my own life. In my free time, my family and I explore parks and maintain community gardens. Being part of these projects means that we are building a better future for the next generation while making a difference today. I’m amazed at the change we were able to make within our own teams and facility — just think about what achieving the energy reduction goal ahead of schedule will mean for our energy consumption over the next decade, not to mention the impact of all the Hershey facilities as they work toward this goal and others. Together, we’re truly creating a brighter future.

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