Smithfield Foods has pledged to become carbon negative in all company-owned operations in the US by 2030, claiming it’s the first major protein company to make such a commitment.
Smithfield’s focus on reducing emissions extends to the company’s more than 40 processing facilities across the US.
The announcement builds on Smithfield’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% across its entire supply chain by 2025, which it announced in 2016. The following year, Smithfield launched a new sustainable energy platform, Smithfield Renewables, to accelerate its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts.
The company aims to achieve its carbon negative goal by working with a wide range of partners on renewable natural gas ventures, regenerative agricultural practices, conservation activities and projects on transportation, logistics and packaging.
Examples include accelerating its biogas programme – which captures methane from hog manure on farms and transforms it into renewable natural gas (RNG) – and its wind and solar power generation. According to Smithfield, when completed, its wind power project is expected to account for more than 15% of its total energy usage across the US.
Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables and hog production environmental affairs at Smithfield Foods, said: “Renewable energy is a cornerstone of our strategy to become carbon negative, and we have spent decades investing in and perfecting our approach.
“Capturing methane and transforming it into RNG removes at least 25 times more GHGs from the atmosphere than are released from its end use in power plants, homes, vehicles and businesses, creating a cleaner environment and even more sustainable farms.”
Additionally, the company is generating renewable natural gas from its wastewater treatment operations. Last year, Smithfield set a goal to cut its overall solid waste sent to landfills by 75% and achieve zero waste to landfill certification at 75% of its US facilities by 2025.
“Smithfield pioneered bold carbon emission targets in our industry, and we are continuing to innovate long-term solutions across our industry-leading sustainability programme,” said Stewart Leeth, vice president and chief sustainability officer at Smithfield Foods.
He added: “To achieve this ambitious new carbon negative objective, work is already underway and will include a variety of strategies, including renewable natural gas ventures, regenerative agricultural practices, improvements in our animals’ diets, renewable electricity purchases and transportation, logistics and packaging projects.”
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