It wasn’t long ago that Smithfield pulled back the curtain on a bevy of ambitious sustainability goals. It seems the meat purveyor is continuing to take strides in these efforts, as it has announced that Monarch Bioenergy, a joint venture with Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE), has finished installing manure-to-energy technology on nearly all of its Northern Missouri hog finishing farms.
"We are delighted to reach this exciting milestone, which is a significant step toward fulfilling our commitment to implement this transformative, cutting-edge technology on the vast majority of our finishing farms in multiple states," said Kraig Westerbeek, Vice President of Smithfield Renewables for Smithfield Foods. "Our Monarch Bioenergy manure-to-energy projects are making a significant environmental impact and remove 25 times more emissions from the atmosphere than are emitted during the clean energy's end use. Because of this, they are key projects in our Smithfield Renewables portfolio of innovative renewable energy and carbon reduction efforts across our operations."
The new manure-to-energy technology captures methane emissions and efficiently converts them into carbon-negative renewable natural gas (RNG) to power homes, vehicles, and businesses, according to a press release. The approximately $150 million project officially kicked off construction in 2014, three years after the companies joined forces to launch the venture. As noted in the release, the proprietary processes that emerged from the project create carbon-negative RNG at a rate of approximately 800,000 dekatherms annually.
Expanding this unique strategy, the alliance has also planted hundreds of acres of prairie grass, providing ecological services and wildlife habitat for monarch butterflies across the state, in addition to exploring harvesting prairie plants to create biomass for RNG production.
"With perseverance and dedication to our vision, we navigated the pathways for swine manure with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the EPA to receive the lowest CI (carbon intensity) scores in the swine industry," said RAE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rudi Roeslein. "We are leading the way to improve the industry's environmental footprint and diversify its income stream. This is a blueprint on how to turn challenges into opportunities."
The two companies have collectively and independently spearheaded additional manure-to-energy projects across the country in states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
This innovative partnership supports Smithfield’s goals of becoming carbon negative in U.S. company-owned operations and reducing GHG emissions 30 percent across its entire U.S. value chain by 2030.
As Smithfield continues to make efforts to accelerate its sustainability strategies, what unique innovations will hit the sector next? Keep reading Deli Market News to find out.