Smithfield report notes 2015 environmental successes
Company reduced natural resource demands and supported sustainable farming
Smithfield Foods, Inc. announced the release of the second installment of its 15th annual sustainability and financial report, which focuses on environmental goals and practices that improve Smithfield's performance while promoting supply chain efficiency. The environment section of this year's report shows improvements in reducing the company's natural resource demand and leadership in advancing sustainable farming practices.
Smithfield surpassed its normalized greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target and nearly met its energy use reduction target four years ahead of its 2020 deadline, according to the report. In 2015, Smithfield also reduced its normalized water use by 2.6 percent due in part to several new water management projects implemented at facilities and farms. Last year, two more Smithfield facilities achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status, bringing the total to six. These efforts and other waste reduction projects helped Smithfield decrease its normalized solid waste generation, despite an increase in production in 2015.
The report also highlights Smithfield's collaborative work with the Environmental Defense Fund on a program to equip and train grain farmers to adopt fertilizer optimization and conservation practices. In 2015, Smithfield purchased 15 percent of its grain from grain-sourcing acres in the southeastern US that participated in the program, which recently expanded to the Midwest. The project's growth places Smithfield on track to achieve its 2018 goal of purchasing 75 percent of its grain from farmers who adopt on-farm conservation practices that reduce nitrogen fertilizer loss and GHG emissions while increasing crop production and improving soil health.
In addition to projects that directly impact the company's environmental footprint, the annual report details Smithfield's support of new programs that advance sustainable practices across the industry and ongoing environmental stewardship programs and research. In 2015, Smithfield collaborated with the US Environmental Protection Agency to launch the agency's Nutrient Recycling Challenge, a competition to develop affordable technologies that recycle nutrients from livestock manure. The competition will conclude early next year.
"As a global food producer, we embrace our responsibility to drive positive change across the industry in addition to adding value to our own supply chain," said Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods, in a press release. "This requires working with a variety of committed partners, ranging from farmers and suppliers to governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations and research institutions, to develop innovative solutions that equally benefit business and the environment."
The environment section is the second of a multiphase release of Smithfield's annual sustainability and financial report, published annually since 2001. To better engage stakeholders by delivering information in a more accessible manner, Smithfield will publish the report in segments over an eight-week period organized by topic of the company's sustainability program. Following the Animal Care and Environment sections, Smithfield will publish its Food Safety and Quality section, and Helping Communities and People segments in succession. The full report will be available in mid-August.