FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Darden Restaurants has joined the Sustainability Consortium, an independent organization of diverse global participants that work collaboratively to build a scientific foundation that drives innovation to improve consumer product sustainability. The consortium is jointly administered by the University of Arkansas and Arizona State University.

“We are pleased to welcome Darden Restaurants to the consortium as the first restaurant company member,” said Jon Johnson, director of the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas. “The company’s leaders have set aggressive goals regarding sustainability, and they will undoubtedly bring a wealth of knowledge and innovative ideas to the table. With committed businesses like Darden engaged in our efforts, the accomplishments of this consortium will continue to grow.”

Darden is taking a resource-focused approach to its sustainability strategy to reduce risks and harness opportunities related to energy and climate change by setting goals to reduce per-restaurant energy and water use by 15 percent by 2015 and, long term, to send zero waste to landfills. The company is also collaborating with others in the value chain that are committed to finding energy-, water- and waste-reduction opportunities while maintaining an unwavering focus on food safety.

“Darden is actively committed to sustainability,” said Ian Olson, director of sustainability for Darden. “Our business relies on a number of natural resources, and these goals are designed to help us be the best stewards of those resources that we can be. At the same time, our membership in the Sustainability Consortium will allow us to build on our efforts by combining our knowledge and insights with organizations in other fields, effectively multiplying our impact.”

Johnson of the Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas and Jay Golden of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University are co-directors of the Sustainability Consortium. The Applied Sustainability Center at the University of Arkansas serves as a catalyst for innovation in the retail and consumer goods industries through sustainability-related research and partnerships. The Global Institute of Sustainability is the hub of ASU’s sustainability initiatives and home to the first of its kind School of Sustainability; it works to advance research, education and business practices for an urbanizing world. Learn more at www.sustainabilityconsortium.org.

Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI), the world’s largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates 1,800 restaurants that generate more than $7 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing approximately 180,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. Darden restaurant brands include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52. For more information, visit www.darden.com.