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Smithfield Foods CSR Report: Commits to Reduce Energy and Water Use, Solid Waste 10% by 2016

Smithfield Foods has committed to meet several new environmental goals, which include reducing energy and water resources and solid waste, each by 10 percent compared to 2008 by fiscal 2016, according to the company’s ninth annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report.

The company also commits to maintaining 100 percent Pork Quality Assurance Plus Certification for its hog production facilities, and meeting 100 percent Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) certification for all facilities.

In 2009, Smithfield Foods has reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at its plants by four percent since 2007 (baseline year). The company also cut its processing emissions per 100 pounds of production by 62 percent compared to 2007 and its first-processing emissions per animal by 41 percent. Smithfield attributes the improvements to the divestiture of the beef group, which was more energy-intensive than its first-processing pork operations.

Other efforts have resulted in a 60 percent water-efficiency improvement at first processing facilities (which produce whole cuts of meat), a 22 percent reduction in electricity use at its farms, and a 4 percent absolute reduction in GHG emissions over the past five years. These improvements have helped decrease company costs by an estimated $100 million over that time period.

Smithfield also cut the energy use per 100 pounds of production by 5.9 percent this past year, and overall electricity use at its processing and farming facilities fell 11 percent since 2008.

Since 1992, several Smithfield plants have captured biogas, a byproduct of its anaerobic wastewater treatment, for use as fuel in modified steam boilers. During fiscal 2009, four facilities produced enough biofuel to power 6,260 U.S. households for one year, according to the report.

The company says biogas use fell sharply this past year, due to the divestiture of its Beef Group, which had accounted for roughly 40 percent of biogas use.

Smithfield Foods also is working on packaging reduction efforts. As an example, in 2009, Armour-Eckrich replaced an oversized rectangular package for smoked sausage with crescent-style packaging. The new design reduces the amount of plastic film and corrugated cardboard used by more than 840,000 pounds per year.

In addition, several plants are switching to or testing a new bagging system that helps reduce plastic use. For example,  the John Morrell plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, piloted the system for Smithfield in 2010, reducing the amount of plastic required by about 40,600 pounds a year.

Farmland Foods reduced the amount of corrugated packaging entering waste streams by more than 5 million pounds per year through continued investments in mechanical packaging technology. Farmland’s corrugated boxes are manufactured to Sustainable Forestry Initiative standards, and each box includes printed information on how to recycle them.

Smithfield Packing shrunk the size of its resealable, reusable tubs for deli meat, using 17 percent less plastic for each container. This means more tubs can now be included in a truckload, reducing fuel use in shipping. The company also cut the size of the boxes that transport chicken frankfurters to its largest customer, eliminating about 20,000 pounds of corrugated material a year.

In 2009, Smithfield launched two new sustainability committees — the Sustainability, Community, and Public Affairs Committee composed of board members, and a corporate Sustainability Committee made up of top executives from across the company.

In February, Smithfield Foods named its first Chief Sustainability Officer.

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