Major US pork producer and food processing firm Smithfield Foods has become the first major protein company to commit to becoming carbon negative in all company-owned operations in the US by 2030.
The announcement, which involves the use of renewable natural gas (RNG), builds on Smithfield’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% by 2025 across its entire supply chain, which it announced in 2016.
In 2017, the company launched Smithfield Renewables, a platform to unite its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts. To become carbon negative in its US company-owned operations, Smithfield will ‘tap’ the resources and expertise of a range of partners to accelerate projects within its renewables programme, while continuing to drive progress toward its ‘25 by 25’ goal across its scope 1-3 emissions.
According to the firm, some of the most significant opportunities for carbon improvements are located on its farms. Smithfield is focusing efforts on ensuring crops are grown with efficient fertiliser and soil health practices and implementing renewable energy projects that reduce emissions, such as RNG.
Smithfield’s biogas programme captures methane from pig manure on farms and transforms it into RNG. The company and its partners are implementing RNG projects across most of its finishing spaces in North Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Missouri, as well as other states.
Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables and hog production environmental affairs at Smithfield Foods, said: “Renewable energy is a cornerstone of our strategy to become carbon negative, and we have spent decades investing in and perfecting our approach.
“Capturing methane and transforming it into RNG removes at least 25 times more GHGs from the atmosphere than are released from its end-use in power plants, homes, vehicles and businesses, creating a cleaner environment and even more sustainable farms.”
Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods, commented: “As the world grapples with environmental challenges impacting our planet, consumers are looking to companies to take deliberate, bold action to address issues such as climate change.
“The world is at an inflection point. To feed a growing world population, with finite resources available to grow and produce the food we need, we must limit our environmental impact.
“At Smithfield, we are utilising our expansive reach to lead efforts to eliminate our carbon footprint in our company-owned operations and remove GHGs from the atmosphere.”