PHOTO: Allen Moore (left), director of engineering and maintenance for Frito-Lay Topeka, and Larry Biles, state forester, examine wood chips that will be used to heat the Frito-Lay plant and produce its products. The Kansas Forest Service conducted a waste wood survey to determine if there was sufficient local wood waste to convert the plant’s energy source.
PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay manufacturing facility in Topeka produces snack foods around the clock using wood chips that otherwise would be tossed into landfills.
The company made the switch in September 2010 from natural gas to wood chips, using data provided by the Kansas Forest Service.
The plant requires about 520 tons of wood chips per week, which is more than 25,000 tons per year, said Allen Moore, director of engineering and maintenance for Frito-Lay Topeka.
The forest service’s survey showed that wood from Kansas’ native forest and waste from cabinet makers, utility companies, recycled pallets, local arborists, and natural disasters could provide ample wood to meet the plant’s needs from surrounding communities.
“We keep a seven-day supply of wood chips on site at all times to accommodate bad weather,” Moore said. “The plant incorporated other green initiatives and now is about 98 percent energy efficient. In April 2010, the Topeka facility became the state’s first manufacturing site — and the nation’s second food manufacturing site — to be awarded LEED Existing Building Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.”
LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.
Moore and Larry Biles, state forester, have spoken to various groups about the project. Biles also advocates for the many other services offered through the Kansas Forest Service, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2012.
“We provided more than 350,000 tree and shrub seedlings in 2012,” said Biles. “Windbreaks for animals increase calving success and weight gain, and farmstead windbreaks offer energy savings. Plantings along streams help slow sedimentation and flood water, which otherwise would affect water quality and quantity in federal reservoirs that supply municipal and industrial water for two-thirds of the state’s population.
“The community forestry program offers advice on what types of trees to plant, where they should be planted, and how to safely remove damaged trees. We also cooperate with energy companies to promote calling 811 before digging to avoid hitting electrical and gas lines.”
Biles noted that a forester teaches fire science at Hutchinson Community College to educate students on fighting wildfires. In addition, the forest service helps 500 rural fire departments train volunteers and acquire excess military equipment for its local units.
“We work closely with K-State plant pathologists and entomologists and the Kansas Department of Agriculture on best practices to protect Kansas trees from insects and disease,” Biles added.
Millions of black walnut trees could be at risk from a disease called thousand cankers that has been documented in Colorado. With an estimated 1.3 billion board feet of black walnut in Kansas, the economic loss could exceed $500 million.
The exotic emerald ash borer has been discovered in Wyandotte County and now threatens millions of Kansas ash trees. Homeowners and communities continue to battle pine wilt, which decimates Scots and Austrian pines.
“We also are working on ways to deal with diseased trees in an environmental manner by keeping them out of landfills,” said Biles.
To view a video about the Frito-Lay project, go to www.ksre.ksu.edu/fritos.
For More Information:
Larry Biles, 785-532-3309, firstname.lastname@example.org
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