As part of an environmental management goal to be “landfill free” by 2020, the Keystone Foods poultry further processing plant in Reidsville, North Carolina, sends all sludge from its dissolved air flotation (DAF) wastewater system to a farm that composts the material to produce soil amendment products for landscaping – never to a landfill.

Not only is using the DAF skimmings in soil compost-friendly to the environment, Keystone Foods is now studying ways to capture valuable oils from the sludge, according to Tina Williams, environmental manager.

“Efficient use of natural resources is critical for our business and corporate social responsibility efforts,” Williams said. “Regulatory and societal pressures related to environmental impact continue to grow, so we continually strive to position Keystone Foods for sustainable growth. These efforts make good business sense and common sense. They’re simply the right things to do for our business, our customers and our environment.”

About 700,000 pounds of further processed poultry is produced per day at the Keystone Foods facility where the wastewater pretreatment plant averages 185,000 gallons of wastewater flow per day.

The Keystone Foods poultry wastewater pretreatment facility in Reidsville uses a Fournier rotary press to extract water from the sludge to render it drier for composting.

Landfill reduction is achieved through the use of compactors with monitoring systems, recycling, participation in the Planet Aid recycling program and composting wax boxes.

“Keystone Foods recycles many of the waste streams across our global operations. This includes cardboard, plastic, aluminum, scrap metal, bio-solids, bakery feeds and wastewater sludge,” Williams said.

“Since 2008, we have reduced the amount of waste sent to the landfill globally by more than 55 percent,” she added.

Keystone Foods also pursues energy- and water-saving initiatives at the Reidsville facility.


Six Sigma water projects in the plant’s production area include:

  • The use of valves on poultry meat formers to restrict water from 10 gallons per minute to 4 gallons per minute. This water is used to cool the hydraulic system. Controls shut the water off when the poultry further processing line shuts down.
  • Timers in the pack-out area shut off water when lines are shut down.

“The efficient use of natural resources is critical for our business and for sustainable growth. At Keystone, globally established targets and measures are defined by management at each plant; with both accountable for local results that contribute to achieving global objectives,” Williams said.

The annual Clean Water Awards are sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.