During the past several years, Smithfield Foods has been closely monitoring scientific advancements that have gradually eliminated economic and technological barriers to efficiently and sustainably create renewable energy from agricultural waste. In recent years, multidisciplinary cooperation in microbiology, biochemistry and engineering sciences has given way to sophisticated and highly efficient anaerobic digestion processes that convert decomposing organic matter, like hog manure, into renewable energy sources.
"The bottom line is that our company's commitment to creating renewable energy is about to produce some very tangible and beneficial results," said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods.
Pope pointed to two Smithfield Foods strategic partnerships at Murphy-Brown facilities in northern Missouri and Milford, Utah, involving anaerobic digestion technology that will ultimately deliver electricity to neighboring communities.
"Our Missouri and Utah projects are a classic win-win. We will considerably reduce the greenhouse effects on the Earth's atmosphere by recycling agricultural waste, help to protect our natural resources and provide a more environmentally friendly energy source," Pope said.
"Sustainability has become a way of life at Smithfield Foods. It's our response to our customers, consumers, investors and other stakeholders who look to us to find innovative and sustainable ways to repurpose waste from our operations," said Dennis H. Treacy, Smithfield's chief sustainability officer.
In northern Missouri, Murphy-Brown of Missouri (MBM) and Roeslein Alternative Energy have announced joint plans to develop a $100 million renewable biogas project.
Biogas, also called renewable natural gas, is created when organic matter decomposes without oxygen present. Biogas will be harvested from MBM finishing farms in northern Missouri using state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion technology developed and installed by Roeslein Alternative Energy. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2014.
Currently, the project in Milford, Utah, is ramping up. Murphy-Brown's Circle 4 Farms entered into a strategic partnership with Alpental Energy Partners to produce electricity via two methane digesters that Alpental built at the Circle 4 facility just outside Milford.
The project will take hog manure from Circle 4 Farms and, with help from Alpental Energy Partners, convert that manure into electrical energy. The resulting energy will be placed on the electrical grid to provide power for residential and commercial customers in Utah.
The two methane digesters installed at Milford, in addition to providing electricity to local residents, will have a significant impact on the dynamics of Circle 4's lagoons in the future. That's because converting manure to energy means that solid waste will no longer be stored in lagoons at the farms-the lagoons will only be used to store liquid waste.
"Our manure-to-energy projects are just another step in our sustainability journey," Pope added.
Funding for these projects is not being provided by Smithfield Foods.