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Tyson Foods’ Sustainability Report: Normalized Water Use Increases 1%

Tyson Foods’ total water usage fell 4.7 percent while its normalized water usage increased 1 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the company’s latest sustainability report.

In 2011, the company used 25.57 billion gallons of water and 1 gallon of water per pound of finished product. In 2012, it used 24.38 billion gallons and 1.01 gallons per pound. The company’s water conservation efforts, along with several facility closures, led to a water usage reduction of 10.9 percent since October 2004, which is equivalent to a 21 percent reduction in the number of gallons used per pound of finished product.

The company’s water metric covers its poultry, beef and pork processing plants, including water used to make products and ensure facility cleanliness. At this time, Tyson has not included water usage data related to its prepared food processing plants, but efforts are underway to begin collecting and reporting this data, the report says.

Tyson operates 34 full-treatment and 43 pre-treatment wastewater facilities in North America. In addition to establishing electronic tools to monitor treatment system performance, Tyson says its long-term goal is to eliminate notices of violations and permit exceedances. From the end of fiscal year 2010 to the end of FY2012, the company decreased its wastewater-related permit exceedances by 48 percent. During this same time frame, the company’s NOVs related to wastewater decreased by 86 percent.

Tyson Foods’ absolute greenhouse gas emissions dropped almost 8 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the report. The report does not include a 2012 figure for greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2011, the company released 5.20 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses, compared to 5.64 million in 2010 and 5.35 million in its 2004 baseline year. The 2011 figure is the lowest yearly total the company has recorded since 2004.

This baseline inventory includes data related to facility fuel and electricity usage, transportation fuels, refrigeration usage, and anaerobic biogas production, Tyson says. Based on this inventory, the company is evaluating its energy profile and considering a process for establishing energy metrics tied to greenhouse gas emissions. However, Tyson may delay the decision on goal setting due to the “current uncertainty surrounding the legislative and scientific discussions related to climate change,” the report says.

In 2004, the company joined SmartWay, the EPA’s voluntary environmental and energy conservation program for companies that ship and haul freight. During fiscal 2011 and 2012, Tyson Foods eliminated more than 145 million over-the-road truck miles. At that time, the SmartWay partnership noted Tyson Foods’ improvements in purchasing lightweight equipment, its innovative package design, and its use of railway shipping and logistics.

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