Sanderson Farms’ Kinston, North Carolina, processing facility was awarded U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s 2016 Clean Water Award for its conservation of natural resources, generation of renewable energy, regulatory compliance, employee development and community service. The company’s Kinston facility was selected as the winner in the full treatment category, which recognizes poultry facilities that fully reclaim wastewater prior to discharge or a final land application system.
Sanderson Farms’ Kinston complex employs more than 1,600 people and processes an average of 1,250,000 birds per week. State-of-the-art wastewater treatment facilities utilize biological treatment, oxygenation, clarification and ultra-violet disinfection to treat water, which the company discharges as treated water through their land application system.
Land application of wastewater
During land application, treated water is discharged onto spray fields that grow hay crops. Soil and crop physical and biological processes provide further treatment and polishing of the water to achieve drinking water quality replenishments to ground water. Harvesting the hay crop removes and recycles the nutrients; therefore, the use of standard farming practices provides an indefinite life cycle for wastewater land application.
By implementing land treatment at the Kinston facility, Sanderson Farms is using a sustainable environmental practice, eliminating direct discharge to sensitive water bodies. This process allows the company to replenish natural water sources, support stream flow and propagate vegetative cover while organically fertilizing farmland and irrigating crops.
Capturing and refining biogas
In addition to conserving water and recycling wastewater, the Kinston facility utilizes renewable energy by capturing and refining biogas. With this technology, biogas is refined to pipeline quality natural gas and can be used throughout the plant without any equipment modifications.
Leader in environmental stewardship
“As an established leader in the poultry industry, Sanderson Farms is committed to managing our operations efficiently while protecting our vital resources and minimizing our impact on the environment around us,” said Pic Billingsley, director of development and engineering for Sanderson Farms. “We are pleased to be recognized for our commitments to responsible operation, and we are especially appreciative to our employees at our Kinston, North Carolina, facility for their commitment to excellence in operation. Without a commitment to environmental stewardship at Kinston, as well as at all of our Sanderson Farms’ facilities, we would not be able to achieve such high levels of environmental excellence.”
Aspiring to be a leader in the community, employees at Sanderson Farms’ Kinston processing facility adopted a “hands-on” approach to community engagement in the form of adopting a local highway beautification project by picking up litter and keeping the road clean. The poultry facility also supports several schools and community groups throughout the Kinston area including United Way, Greater Kinston Chamber of Commerce, Kinston High School and several area blood drives.
As the nation’s third largest poultry producer, Sanderson Farms is growing and building new facilities across the southeastern portions of the nation. With a new facility currently under construction in St. Pauls, North Carolina, Sanderson Farms understands how important responsible operation, environmental stewardship and community partnerships are for the company’s future growth.
“Sanderson Farms knew that operational excellence would be important, but also that demonstrating its strong sense of values that support the environment, social responsibility and the local area would be critical,” said Ben Ferguson, division manager of the Kinston facility.
Comprehensive training for employees
In addition to strengthening community connections, all Sanderson Farms’ locations work to grow and develop employees with comprehensive training designed to focus on teamwork, animal welfare, safety and food security. The company works diligently to provide the right resources and training their employees need in order to effectively perform their jobs, creating a company culture in which safety, responsibility and accountability are top priorities.
At all of Sanderson Farms’ locations, corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship extend far outside the bounds of water conservation and renewable energy production. The company’s environmental stewardship goals include energy efficiency, packaging improvements, recycling and waste minimization.