Sponsored by USPOULTRY, the 2021 Environmental Management Seminar focused on regulatory issues and sustainability efforts affecting the industry. In addition, professionals, consultants, university personnel and representatives of the production and processing industry addressed a wide variety of other topics, including Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), toxicity, new technology for poultry by-products and the handling of wastewater treatment solids.

Paul Bredwell, executive vice president of regulatory programs at USPOULTRY, provided an overview of the incoming administration, discussing immediate actions by the administration as well as reviewing the new leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Bredwell also gave an in-depth regulatory update, describing some of the current list of regulatory issues as the “gifts that keep on giving.” During his presentation, Bredwell addressed the Waters of the U.S. / Navigable Waters Protection Rule; revised effluent limitation guidelines for the meat and poultry industry; PFAS substances –   Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) andPerfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS); development of emission estimation methodologies; Montgomery County Maryland Court decision on ammonia emissions; ammonia deposition from poultry houses and changes to EPA’s Risk Management Program.

John Pierson, principal research engineer at Georgia Tech Research Institute, offered an inside look at a dynamic filtration system that provides a novel separation for poultry processing liquid streams. The dynamic filtration system technology is a result of research funded by USPOULTRY, and Pierson described the vision for the system as “solving the filtration challenge, while changing the world of poultry processing in terms of increased yield, food quality and food safety.”

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Michele Boney, director of sustainability at West Liberty Foods, shared a case study on waste recycling. She asked the question, “You want to recycle, so where do you start?” Boney described the process of conducting a waste sort at the local landfills, establishing categories of waste streams, providing separate containers for recycling, developing partnerships, creating a Waste Tracker, mapping new processes and products and training new team members. The result being that West Liberty Foods has been a landfill-free company since 2012, with less than 0.05% of waste sent to a landfill in 2020.

USPOULTRY’s annual Clean Water Award winners were also announced at the seminar. The award program recognizes poultry facilities that are excelling in their efforts to treat wastewater and reduce potable water demand by reusing treated wastewater where possible. Awards are given in two categories--full treatment and pretreatment. This year, Tyson Foods was selected the winner in the full treatment category for its Tyson Poultry, Inc. facility in Nashville, Arkansas. Tyson Foods was also selected as the winner in the pretreatment category for its Tyson Poultry, Inc. further processing facility in Berryville, Arkansas. An honorable mention with distinction award was presented to Tyson Foods for its Tyson Poultry, Inc.’s full treatment facility in Dardanelle, Arkansas. Pilgrim’s Pride in Gainesville, Georgia, received an honorable mention with distinction award in the pretreatment category.