Home Americas Americas: Cargill’s US meat processing facility becomes landfill-free

Americas: Cargill’s US meat processing facility becomes landfill-free

Cargill’s meat processing facility in Hazleton, Pa., US now sends nothing to the landfills.

The 225,000 sq ft plant sits on a 40-acre site, employs 600 people and produces more than 10 million pounds of beef, pork and ground meat products monthly.

While NSF verifies that less than 1% of the plant’s waste goes to landfills, it verified the facility’s landfill-free status after a detailed review of documentation and a three-day on-site audit in March 2015.

Although some materials were already being recycled, in 2012 Cargill’s Hazleton plant sent 1,500 tons of waste to local landfills, including plastic, bio-solids, paper and other materials.

In mid-2013, employees at the facility began a stepped up recycling effort and within five months reduced the amount of waste materials going to landfills by 280 tons, while saving the company US$30,000.

“Having successfully taken the first step, the Hazleton team decided to strive for something that had never been accomplished at Cargill, while pushing the envelope to better align with our global corporate focus on sustainable food production,” said Aaron Humes, the plant’s GM.

“We weren’t certain we could go all the way to landfill-free status, but we were confident that we could significantly improve our sustainability footprint.”

The team’s goals were simply to help preserve the environment, engage all employees in the effort and strengthen relationships with customers.

To kick off the effort, in 2013 the plant partnered with a local company that helped improve the facility’s recycling program. Within five months, 20% less waste was going to landfills.

In 2014, the team planned to become verified landfill free.

In May 2014, people and funds were allocated and partners found that could recycle plastic, bio-solids and other materials. Approximately 1,000 tons of unrecyclable plastic is used to produce energy and about 1,500 tons of food waste is rendered into other products.

More than a ton of oil is repurposed for use as lubricants.

By early 2015, the Hazleton facility had found non-landfill homes for all of its waste, making it the first Cargill facility in the world to achieve verified landfill-free status.

As an ongoing requirement for verification, the Hazleton facility will undergo annual reassessment audits.

“This planet is home to more than seven billion people, and it will need to sustain more than nine billion by 2050,” stated John Keating, president of the beef and case ready meat products business.

“Every day, we work to improve our environmental footprint while nourishing many millions of people with the best protein that the civilized world has ever known, as well as helping communities thrive as we do it.”