Solid Waste Management
Our goal is to reduce solid waste to landfills by 10 percent when normalized for production, using fiscal year 2006 as a benchmark. This goal emphasizes the importance of eliminating waste at its source. We also continue to promote recycling to eliminate as much landfill waste as possible.
In 2011, our U.S. operations sent 511 fewer tons of solid waste to landfills than the previous year. Since 2006, we have reduced our total waste by 29 percent, when normalized for production levels, surpassing our goal. To date, we are diverting more than 72 percent of waste from the landfill through recycling and the land spreading of byproducts, which farmers use as soil nutrients. Approximately half of our turkey litter is sent to an electricity production facility in central Minnesota and burned as biomass fuel. The remaining turkey litter is used as a replacement for manufactured chemical fertilizers in agricultural applications.
Our plants have taken the initiative to reduce solid waste produced from their operations. Recent projects include:
- Reducing solid waste to landfill: In an effort to continue reducing solid waste, product from cans kicked out in the canning and labeling process are now being composted at our Atlanta Plant (Tucker, GA). The company also increased its recycling of plastics, worked to identify additional recycling opportunities and increased awareness of recycling. In 2011, these efforts resulted in the reduction of solid waste to landfills by 500 tons.
- Solid waste reduction in Iowa: Diamond Crystal Brands Mitchellville (IA) Blending Plant employees partnered with International Paper to reduce solid waste and to eliminate costs associated with starting a new recycling system for materials that enter the waste stream. This initiative reduced solid waste to landfills by approximately 250 tons in 2011.
- Diversion of solid waste to energy plant: In an effort to improve recycling, the Farmer John (Vernon, CA) team worked to convert landfill waste into energy that would power local residences and businesses. An audit was done to measure the heat content of the waste material, determining that it was a good source of fuel. It was then diverted to an incinerator-based energy plant for local use. This project resulted in the increase of recycling tonnage by 27 percent and reduced solid waste to landfill by 445 tons.
As we continue to work toward the long-term goal of maximizing our recycling efforts, we look for opportunities to increase recycling of difficult materials such as meat casings, vat covers and liners and packaging film scrap.
Our recycling rate for all of our manufacturing facilities is 46 percent. We reward employees for thinking “sustainably” through the Environmental Sustainability Best of the Best competition, and aim to create a culture that encourages employees to discover new recycling opportunities.