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UN Sustainable Development Goal

Responsible Consumption and Production


user photo Submitted by Zack McClellan
Date published: 26 Jun 2017


Overview: Kalsec is a spice extraction company that was founded in 1958 in Kalamazoo, MI. It is a private family owned company that began as a producer and marketer of natural herbs and spices for food manufacturers. During the last 50 years, Kalsec has expanded its focus and pioneered breakthrough products and processes in their industry. Today, Kalsec is an international leader in the development of natural herb and spice extracts, colors, antioxidants, advanced hop products, dry products, and other nutritional ingredients for food, beverage, nutritional and pharmaceutical markets. As a family owned company, Kalsec puts a high value on honesty, integrity, and fairness in all scopes of their business. Social responsibility and sustainability are foundational practices that Kalsec puts emphasis on from top to bottom of the organization. Their success is rooted in their ability to capture the essence of antioxidants, colors, flavors and various extracts directly from nature through ethical, safe and environmentally sustainable practices. The following quote is a statement from Kalsec on their social responsibility drawn from the company website. “Our commitment to these practices is driven by our responsibility to each and every stakeholder in our business and by our role in the global community. As a global citizen, we strive to respect and nurture the environment and communities from which we derive our livelihoods. We honor the needs and expectations of our customers and the consumers who trust us to provide safe and wholesome ingredients.” Kalsec’s commitment to sustainable practices is observed in a myriad of ways across the company but they have it broken down into three main target areas. These areas are People, Products, and Planet respectively. Although Kalsec is taking steps toward several of the Sustainable Development Goals, their main focus and the focus of this interview is on Goal 12, ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. Innovations: People: The people portion of Kalsec’s innovations that ensure sustainable consumption and production focus on community, employees and their supply chain. A large portion of Kalsec’s raw material is sourced from the tropics so Kalsec has taken steps like providing endowment scholarships at colleges and universities in the tropics, like EARTH University, that prepare the next generation of leaders with ethical values to contribute to sustainable crop development and constructing a more just society locally. Another innovation Kalsec has used is the formation of long-term relationships with local farmers. It may sound simple but these relationships are extremely important to the sustainability of farming that is both efficient and effective. Since 1993, Kalsec has hosted interns and employees at their international locations like Peru and Costa Rica that work with local farmers to reduce the use of pesticides and improve farming techniques so that the farmers are able to surpass international standards and create prosperous farms. By starting at the source, Kalsec reduces the amounts of chemicals being sprayed onto our foods and into the environment, improves the quality of their products and increases the sustainability of local farms. In addition, by having these close relationships with suppliers they are able to trace their raw materials to the individual fields they come from, which ensures quality and safety. Approximately 67 percent of their raw spices, herbs, and vegetables are sourced from Kalsec developed seeds, farms, or long-term grower relationships. These long-term relationships are symbiotic in their nature and could be reciprocated in many other industry supply chains. A rather new innovation for Kalsec is their step into the rapidly expanding brewing science field. They developed the Kalsec Center for Sustainable Brewing Education in conjunction with Kalamazoo Valley Community College that providing brewing science education utilizing sustainable brewing practices. “As the brewing industry is taking off in the direction of craft breweries, it is imperative that we are educating brewmasters in sustainable practices so that it becomes an industry standard.” Products: Kalsec makes it a point of emphasis to continue to develop innovative ways to sustainably produce and improve their naturally-sourced ingredients. One way they've done this is by improving the yield of non-genetically modified spices and herbs while continuing to reduce the consumption of water and use of pesticides. Their patented extraction process at their facilities in Southwest Texas produce organic suitable spice extracts without the use of any solvents. Solvents can be composed of an assortment of many chemicals and other harmful materials that can’t be recycled or degraded. By eliminating their use Kalsec cuts down significantly on waste and pollution. Three-fourth of their current innovation activities are focused on replacing chemical and petrochemical products and processes. Without the dependency on petrochemicals Kalsec’s footprint for consumption and production shrinks tremendously. Planet: The planet is our most important resource and as a global citizen, Kalsec feels they must lead in the fight against the growing scale and complexity of our environmental issues. One innovation at Kalsec is the recycling of the cooling water used in the production processes. All of the cooling water is recycled and recharged to the ground in recharge ponds. These ponds also serve as a habitat for fish and other wildlife. Another innovation is the composting and recycling of more than 3 million kilos of their spice by-product steam under permits from the Department of Environmental Quality in Michigan. The compost is also certified for use as a soil amendment on food crops. By composting and recycling the by-product steam Kalsec is drastically decreasing the amount of methane being released from landfills. The Kalamazoo facilities have increased recycling rates from 18 to 52 percent over the last five years and waste has decreased by 15 percent. Additionally, Kalsec has installed more than 700 solar panels at their Kalamazoo facility to date in efforts to continually reduce their carbon footprint. “We believe this commitment to the environment and community is what good business practices are all about. This project will not only contribute to our bottom line, it will create jobs in the community and will reduce our annual carbon footprint by 150 tons,” says Kalsec CEO George Todd.  Kalsec is an example of how international companies can hep ensure the sustainable consumption of consumption and production patterns. Starting at the source to create the best raw materials, streamlining an educated and efficient supply chain, eliminating the dependency on petrochemicals in production and investing in the recycling of manufacturing by-products and resources are a few of the ways Kalsec is working to help achieve Goal 12. Companies in industries across the spectrum can view these innovations and weave them into their own operations to create a more sustainable environment around the globe. By: Zack McClellan Interviews: John Baranoski, Head Project Manager <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>