USA – American pork producer Smithfield Foods is seeking to improve its sustainability profile with a new pledge to cut food loss and waste in its U.S. company-owned operations in half by 2030.  

The Virginia-based company plans to achieve this goal through loss prevention, recovering wasted food to donate, and recycling waste for applications such as animal feed, compost, and energy generation. 

Smithfield’s new target adds to its earlier commitments to reduce overall waste sent to landfills by 75% by 2025, which came in tandem with a goal to cut its emissions by 25%. 

 The company also aims to recycle at least 50% of accumulated waste and limit waste incineration at its facilities that achieve zero-waste certification. 

In a form submitted to the USDA and EPA, the pork giant said one way it plans to hit its 2030 goal is through recycling materials for animal feed, like wheat that is leftover from flour milling or spent grains from whiskey and beer production.  

The company said it now also includes by-products from bread, snack food, and baked goods facilities. 

Smithfield has also invested in specialized equipment for its feed mills that efficiently process packaged bakery products that are otherwise difficult to recycle and unsuitable for human consumption into animal feed. 

This according to the company, has enabled it to divert 23,000 tons of waste from landfills. 

The company has also joined the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Loss and Waste Champions — a list of businesses including CPGs that have pledged to halve their waste by 2030. 

In addition, Smithfield has joined the global 10x20x30 initiative, which brings together retailers and their suppliers committed to the same goal.   

Tackling 1.4B pounds of Waste

The livestock industry is already considered unsustainable as it produces 1.4 billion pounds of waste per year. 

The waste is mainly due to the parts of the animal that cannot be used such as bones, tendons, and skin, The Atlantic reported.  

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations further notes that about 5% of food loss and waste by weight occurs during the processing and packaging stage of meat production. 

The EPA has also highlighted the outsized impact that food waste from meat production has on the environment.  

In a November report examining the issue, the agency cited research showing that while pork production does not emit as much greenhouse gases as beef, veal, and lamb, it did produce more than poultry. 

In setting concrete goals, the company raises the stakes for other meat processors who seek to raise the sustainability profile of their own companies and the industry as a whole in the eyes of consumers. 

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