Additions to Planters plant to be environmentally friendly

2 Min Read
Additions to Planters plant to be environmentally friendly

Two new initiatives at the Planters peanut plant in Fort Smith—a 33,000-square-foot facility addition and a packaging conversion—are going green, according to remarks by a company official Friday, June 3. 

The plant addition, which broke ground last week, will be LEED-certified, plant manager Lisa Grenier told attendees during a monthly Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. 

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a third-party certification system and benchmark for green design and construction strategies. Points are awarded for criteria such as the use of sustainable construction materials, minimization of construction waste and energy conservation measures. 

Grenier said SSI Inc. is the contractor for the project, which eventually will house two production lines for blanching operations. 

Although plastic packaging doesn't seem very green, it will be exactly that when it replaces glass peanut jars at Planters, Grenier said. 

"This year it will reduce our production waste—the waste that goes to the landfill—by 20 million pounds," she said. "And it'll reduce our material use by 25 million pounds." 

The material weight reduction will further translate into a reduction in fuel costs because plastic is so much lighter than glass. 

Grenier made the remarks in the course of describing the history of the 105-year-old peanut producer and the economic impact of the local plant on the community. 

The Fort Smith plant spends more than $40 million annually on payroll, materials, utilities, taxes, goods and services, she said. 

The facility employs about 360 people, 15 of whom have been employees since the plant opened in 1976.
The current plant occupies 389,000 square feet, including 317,000 square feet of production space and 72,000 square feet devoted to a buffer warehouse. It sits on 52.5 acres. 

The added blanching space and the installation of new packaging equipment in a portion of the existing space amounts to a $20 million investment, most of which is being financed by the city of Fort Smith. Last fall, the city agreed to issue up to $18 million in industrial revenue bonds and allow Planters to repay the bonds over a period of 12 years by making payments in lieu of taxes. 

Joyce Hodel, spokesman for Planters parent company Kraft Foods in Chicago, said the plant expansion and packaging conversion will not create additional plant jobs but will better position the Fort Smith operation to compete internally for future company investments.


Planters has two other production facilities, the original peanut plant in Suffolk, Va., and a salted snack plant in California, Hodel said.

(Source: Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.) By Wanda Freeman, Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.



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