Sara Lee has claimed it has cut its water usage by more than a fifth in the last four years as part of the US food group's aim of reducing the water it uses worldwide.

The reduction was achieved from facilities around the world, Sara Lee said yesterday (21 September), conducting water audits, performing preventative maintenance on boilers and cooling towers and implementing dry clean-up techniques.

Sara Lee said it has reduced the amount of waste sent to landfill by 18% over the past four years by focusing on increasing the amount of waste byproducts that are recycled, lessening their impact on the environment.

"Fiscal 2009 marked another milestone year for Sara Lee's sustainability efforts," said Audra Karalius, Sara Lee Corp.'s vice president of sustainability, environment and safety.

"Our annual sustainability report highlights our progress in our three key areas - environment, wellness and nutrition and social responsibility."

The results are detailed in Sara Lee's annual sustainability report, entitled "Sara Lee Now…For the Future".

The report notes the company's 'innovation' campus opened in North America in April. The facility features a packaging lab, which Sara Lee claims saves time and materials, helping drive its sustainability strategy.

Last month, Sara Lee posted an increase in full-year profit, despite a 2.5% drop in sales.

For the fiscal year to 27 June, net income reached US$364m from a net loss of $79m in 2008. The company also reported an increase in operating income to $713m from $260m in fiscal 2008.