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Tyson Foods Sustainability Report Highlights Energy Efficiency Efforts

Tyson Foods has released a report covering the social, environmental and economic performance of Tyson’s U.S. operations for fiscal 2008 and 2009. The sustainability report, which is the third Tyson has issued since 2006, is only available on-line.

Water conservation efforts, along with several facility closures, have led to a water use reduction of 7.6 percent since October 2004, which is equivalent to a 13.9-percent reduction in the number of gallons used per pound of finished product. The company has set a goal to reduce water consumption by 10 percent over a two-year period, as compared to its water use levels at the end of fiscal year 2008.

From the end of fiscal year 2007 to the end of fiscal year 2009, the company reduced its wastewater related permit exceedances by 5.4 percent.

During this time frame, however, the company’s notices of violations related to wastewater, storm water, and drinking water increased by 51.9 percent. Two pre-treatment wastewater facilities accounted for 55 percent of the total NOVs received in fiscal year 2008 and 61 percent of the NOVs received during fiscal year 2009.

Tyson’s GHG footprint during calendar year 2004 was 5.35 million metric tons. This baseline inventory includes data related to facility fuel and electricity use, transportation fuels, refrigeration use, and anaerobic biogas production. Based on this inventory, the company is evaluating setting GHG emission reduction goals in fiscal year 2010.

Energy use in Tyson Foods’ production facilities is the company’s first and second largest source of GHG emissions. Its main source of energy is electricity, which represented 49.8 percent of total GHG emissions during fiscal years 2004 through 2008. Tyson uses electricity to power processing, refrigeration, and wastewater treatment equipment, and for lighting, heating, and air conditioning. In addition, many of its facilities use natural gas in boilers to heat water and in fryers and ovens to cook food.. The combustion of natural gas represented 26.7 percent of total GHG emissions during fiscal years 2004 through 2008.

Tyson Foods generated 164,073 tons of landfill solid waste in fiscal year 2008 and 143,564 tons in fiscal year 2009, representing a 12.5 percent decrease from 2008 to 2009. It recycled 31,080 tons of OCC and plastics during fiscal year 2008 and 29,615 tons during fiscal year 2009, a 4.7 percent decrease from 2008 to 2009.

Tyson Foods incurred several environmental penalties during fiscal years 2008 and 2009. The largest amount paid by a single location was a $2,026,500 civil penalty to settle allegations that the Fresh Meats Division violated terms of a 2002 consent decree and a federally-issued pollution discharge permit at its meat processing facility in Dakota City, Nebraska. According to a filing made in U.S. District Court in Omaha, the government alleges that from July 2003 through March 2004, the Dakota City facility failed to properly operate a nitrification system as required by the 2002 consent decree.

Tyson says that during the past nine years, approximately $27 million has been spent upgrading and improving the wastewater treatment system at Dakota City. This includes more than $4 million spent on modifications since 2003.

Here’s information on some of the energy efficiency initiatives at Tyson:

– Tyson Foods’ efforts around server virtualization and consolidation have reduced server storage space by approximately 400 square feet, the number of servers from 483 to 37, physical server racks by 18, and network ports and cables by 268.

– In fiscal year 2008, Tyson Foods began testing a renewable energy process at its feed mill in Fairmount, Georgia. The biomass gasification technology was designed specifically for poultry litter and other hard-to-process materials. The testing period lasted eight months and converted nearly 1,000 tons of poultry litter to 110-psig (pounds-per-square-inch gauge) steam. It supplied an estimated 30 percent of the feed mill’s steam needs.

– Tyson Foods has six wastewater treatment systems that have enclosed their anaerobic lagoons in order to generate and capture biogas. Four of these six facilities, are able to clean and use their biogas as an alternative fuel source to natural gas in on-site boilers. During fiscal years 2008 and 2009, these four facilities used more than 1.8 billion cubic feet of biogas in on-site boilers. For these two fiscal years, this is equivalent to 1.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas and a natural gas cost avoidance of approximately $9.1 million dollars.

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4 thoughts on “Tyson Foods Sustainability Report Highlights Energy Efficiency Efforts

  1. Let’s not forget that environmental concerns run deeper than water and energy conservation. The fact is that Tyson would also like to get around USDA regulations by touting that they don’t raise their chickens with antibiotics, and spend a whole lot of money on ad campaigns for the same, and yet they inject unhatched chickens with antibiotics. (Therefore they’re not “raised” with antibiotics…only given them, anyway.)


    Industrial farming is an incredibly unsustainable environmental practice, and this should also be taken into account when you’re talking about a company’s environmental impact. If they’d like to cut water use, that’s great. That’s also a necessary step towards a conscientious world focused more on resource conservation. However, the company is inherently unsustainable because of the nature of their business. Antibiotic injection can increase antibiotic resistance in humans without even our knowledge, because duh, they’re not going to want to put those health risks on the package.

    We’re really hurting ourselves here by supporting a company on the merits of their other conservational tactics, rather than the root of the problem. Let’s not even get into how those chickens are probably treated, or the inefficiency of resources used to raise them. Yeah, we’re going to eat meat anyway, but there’s a better way than this.

  2. From a greenhouse gas perspective, there’s not a better way to eat meat than to have that meat come from chickens. See

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-greenhouse-hamburger and


    As for the blanket statement that “Industrial farming is an incredibly unsustainable environmental practice” – not so fast. Check out


    Given the population that needs to be fed, modern industrial farming may be the least GHG intensive approach we have yet tried. And certainly eating chiken as opposed to beef is far better with respect to the GHG effects that result.

    On the other hand, I am also no fan of the widespread practice of antibiotic use in farm animals.

  3. Thank you for mentioning the questionable methods of raising the chickens. In addition to anti-biotics, it is my understanding these birds are fed growth hormones that make them so fat they are barely able to stand up and walk. Watch Food, Inc. if you want to be completely disgusted with the food “industry.” I haven’t eaten meat of any kind since I saw that documentary.

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