Great Lakes Cheese Joins Alliance To Reduce Food Waste

The cheese supplier joins the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance in an effort to reduce the impact of food waste on the environment.
Greg Sleter
Associate Publisher/Executive Editor
Greg Sleter profile picture
Great Lakes Cheese logo

Great Lakes Cheese has joined the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance, a collaborative movement to boost food waste recycling and expand renewable energy production across America. The alliance was founded in 2020 by Vanguard Renewables, Unilever, Starbucks, and Dairy Farmers of America and now has grown to include 15 U.S. food industry leaders.  

“For more than 60 years Great Lakes Cheese has been committed to creating quality products, supporting regional agriculture, and putting people and the environment first,” stated Edward Learoyd, vice president of Food Safety, Safety, Quality, and Regulatory at Great Lakes Cheese. “We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint – from sourcing renewable energy to minimizing packaging waste, and now diverting our organic waste from the manufacturing process to create renewable energy via Farm Powered anaerobic digestion.” 

Headquartered in Hiram, Ohio, with nine processing plants spread across Ohio, Wisconsin, New York, Utah, Tennessee, and Texas. The company was founded in 1958 by Swiss immigrant, Hans Epprecht and remains a family- and employee-owned business with over 4,000 employees supplying cheese across the United States.  

“Vanguard Renewables is excited to welcome Great Lakes Cheese into the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance,” stated Neil H. Smith, CEO at Vanguard Renewables. “Our FPSA partners are each working tirelessly to do their part to fight the climate crisis and to decarbonize our country. This important work we are doing together is something that makes me incredibly proud.” 

In recent years Great Lakes Cheese has pursued win-win solutions for its people, products, and planet. The company has committed to increasing renewable energy supply beyond its current sourcing of solar and hydropower, has actively partnered across the supply chain and internally to address plastic waste, and has reduced water consumption at its flagship location in Hiram by as much as 10,000 gallons per day. 

The Farm Powered Strategic Alliance, named one of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas, includes Unilever, Starbucks, Dairy Farmers of America, Vanguard Renewables, Stonyfield Organic, Cabot Creamery, Smithfield Foods, Food Tank (a leading NGO), Chobani, Kikkoman, Schreiber Foods, Hillebrand, Polar Beverages, Vermont Creamery, Johnsonville, and now Great Lakes Cheese. The Alliance offers U.S. food manufacturers and retailers a circular approach to reducing the detrimental environmental impacts of CO2 emissions and provides a pathway toward a carbon-neutral footprint.  

Further, members of the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance commit to diverting their organic food waste from the manufacturing process to one of Vanguard’s on-farm anaerobic digesters where it is recycled with dairy cow manure via anaerobic digestion to create renewable natural gas (RNG). Members are also given the opportunity to purchase the RNG produced for their facilities.