Innovating for a Clean Energy Future
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Smithfield Renewables

The world’s food supply relies on secure and resilient food systems, requisites that were starkly underscored in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Smithfield recognizes that our ability to provide protein to a growing world population rests on responsible stewardship of the planet’s finite resources, which includes finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) across our operations.


In 2016, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota's NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise, we conducted a life cycle analysis (LCA) to measure our carbon impact across our entire supply chain. The LCA considered the GHGs associated with all areas of our business- scopes 1, 2, and 3 - and showed us where we can make the greatest impact. This analysis helped us establish our industry-leading goal to reduce GHG emissions 25% by 2025, which we have recently broadened to 30% by 2030.


Measuring Our Progress

Using 2010 as our baseline, we have seen an approximate 13% reduction* in GHG emissions across our value chain through year-end 2020. It is important to note that during this time period, the number of hogs processed annually increased by approximately 3.4 million head (largely due to acquisition), and the weight of each hog processed increased as well. Decreasing emissions while increasing production is critical to how we will continue to feed a growing global population while continually shrinking our environmental footprint.


*Percentage based on a narrowing of the various ranges of model runs and assumptions. Due to the complexity of the supply chains associated with our vertically integrated operations, the science and models behind calculating carbon emission reduction is continually changing as additional research and data become available. We acknowledge that different predictive models may provide varying ranges of results and we anticipate further refinements which may inform how we measure and report progress.



Updated Life-Cycle Analysis

In early 2021, we updated our LCA in collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s NorthStar Initiative. Early findings from this new LCA affirm our engagement approach and the critical importance of our Smithfield Renewables platform. Through it, we capture methane from manure management systems on hog farms and transform it into renewable natural gas (RNG) and electricity. These RNG projects displace at least 25 times more GHG emissions from the atmosphere than are released from the end use of the renewable fuel in power plants, homes, vehicles and businesses. Other efforts under this platform include regenerative agriculture programs; feed efficiency initiatives; renewable electricity purchases; efforts to streamline transportation, manufacturing and facility logistics; zero-waste-to-landfill efforts; reduced/recyclable packaging initiatives; water conservation efforts – and more. 

We continue to leverage the resources and expertise of a wide range of partners to accelerate projects and we are on course to eliminate the carbon footprint of our company-owned operations across the United States and aggressively reduce our scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions.

 

We are also positioned to explore climate-related risks and opportunities across operations to better understand and prioritize actions to mitigate and adapt to drought, flooding or other potential severe weather-related events.


Measuring Our GHG Footprint

Consumers

Since we have limited control over how consumers prepare our products, we are focusing our GHG-reduction efforts in this area on producing more on-trend, shelf-stable precooked foods with smaller portion sizes, which tend to reduce consumer energy use and minimize food waste.

Grain Farms and Feed Milling

Feed Efficiency

Through advancements in genetics, nutrition and management, we’ve reduced the amount of feed needed to raise our animals.

Responsible Grain Production

We provide farm management software and tools to help farmers produce the same amount of grain using less fertilizer. We purchase grain from farmers who implement efficient fertilizer and soil health practices as well as diversified crop rotations.

Manure Management

Manure-to-Energy Projects

Through partnerships, we’re converting manure into energy at our hog farms in NC, MO, UT and VA, displacing methane emissions and powering the local energy grid.

Farming Responsibly

We’re working with partners to recycle the nutrients in manure as fertilizer to cropland on our farms.

Processing, Transportation, Non-Grain Feed and Other Projects

Processing

Reducing Waste

Today, 34% of our U.S. facilities are certified zero waste to landfill. By 2025, we aim to reduce our solid waste to landfill by 75% and certify 75% of our U.S. facilities.

Improving Energy Efficiency

We’re continuously looking to optimize energy efficiency in our operations, including lighting retrofits at our farms and facilities and continuous improvements in equipment efficiency as well as control technologies for compressed air, refrigeration and boiler systems.

Sustainable Packaging

We joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition in 2020 and aim to apply tools and learnings to achieve 90% recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable consumer packaging by 2030, including halving virgin petroleum-based plastic use compared to a 2019 baseline.

Producing Energy from Wastewater

At our Tar Heel, NC facility, we’re turning wastewater into renewable natural gas, powering more than 2,000 local homes and businesses.

 

Transportation

Optimizing Logistics

We launched our first-ever hybrid trailer program, consisting of 34 electric hybrid trailers and 30 charging stations, at our Vernon, California, facility in 2020. Between program launch in August and yearend, we used approximately 18,000 hours of electric power, saving more than 9,000 gallons of diesel.


Other Projects

Wind Energy

In Oklahoma, our investment in ALLETE Clean Energy’s Diamond Spring wind site began to show returns as commercial operations got underway in December. Our investment at the site will deliver energy to power approximately 15% of our U.S. operations.

 


Smithfield Renewables Projects

Through our innovative partnerships with Dominion Energy and Roeslein Alternative Energy, we are pioneering the business of capturing methane on our hog farms, converting it into RNG and delivering it to power homes, businesses and transportation vehicles. We aim to implement RNG projects across 90% of our hog-finishing spaces in Utah, North Carolina and Virginia and nearly all in Missouri by 2028. To complement the renewable energy efforts on our farms, we have implemented methane capture and reuse systems at four of our facilities in Grayson, Kentucky; Milan, Missouri; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Tar Heel, North Carolina. At Tar Heel, we launched a wastewater-to-RNG project in 2020, one of our largest renewable energy projects involving wastewater to date and our first in North Carolina. Developed in partnership with Duke Energy and OptimaBio, LLC, it is producing RNG to power more than 2,000 homes in the surrounding area each year.

Manure-to-Energy Projects and Partnerships

Align Renewable Natural Gas, Smithfield’s joint venture with Dominion Energy, is the largest venture of its kind in the United States and a key component of our GHG-reduction strategy. Our planned joint $500 million investment with Dominion will build projects across the country capable of producing enough RNG to heat more than 70,000 homes and businesses and reducing annual GHG emissions from our U.S. hog farms by 2.5 million metric tons.

Our inaugural Align RNG project, located in Milford, Utah, launched in November 2020 and is producing RNG from a network of 26 family farms that raise hogs under contract with Smithfield. More than 3,000 homes and businesses can be powered by the project annually, and emissions at participating farms will be cut by more than 100,000 metric tons — equivalent to planting 1.8 million trees. To build on this success, we are spearheading similar projects in North Carolina and Virginia, with more planned for Arizona and California. Our Milford project was featured in a recent episode of “Earth,” hosted by six-time Emmy Award winner and former NBC news correspondent John Holden.

In Missouri, we have invested more than $45 million in Monarch Bioenergy, our joint venture with long-term collaborator Roeslein Alternative Energy, to introduce infrastructure for renewable natural gas across 100% of company-owned finishing farms in the state. With the completion of two additional farms in 2020 and our completion of the final two in 2021, we are on track to achieve this conversion goal, which will collectively remove the equivalent of 130,000 gasoline vehicles from the road each year.

We also continued to explore restorative prairie grass planting in partnership with Roeslein, Iowa State University and others. Agriculture and forests are essential to addressing climate change. Our efforts foster and enhance programs to sequester more carbon in agricultural lands and natural ecosystems. For example, our partnership in the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Exchange helps reintroduce native species to restore 1.5 million acres of high-quality breeding and nectar habitat along the butterflies’ migration route. Through our contributions, we completed reconstruction of 770 acres of prairie among five of our northern Missouri farms.

Turning Manure Into Energy

Capturing Manure From Barns

Hogs are raised in climate-controlled barns with easy access to food and water. The manure they generate, which falls through slatted barn floors to keep animal pens clean, is temporarily stored in concrete pits below. Underground pipes transfer the manure — including nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients — to specifically designed structures on the property for storage and treatment.

Anaerobic Treatment at Work

The naturally occurring bacteria in anaerobic treatment systems break down the solids and associate nutrients in manure over a period of six to 12 months. What remains is a low-solids effluent product that is highly suitable for use as an organic fertilizer. By covering the lagoons/digesters, we can also capture the biogas they emit as part of the anaerobic digestion process.

From Biomass to RNG

RNG, sometimes called biomethane, is a pipelinequality gas derived from biomass — organic matter that can be used as fuel. RNG combines the environmental benefits of renewables with the reliability of natural gas to provide energy 24/7, 365 days a year, and can be used on demand to fuel vehicles and meet the real-time needs of homes, businesses, utilities and manufacturers.

Learn more about Turning Manure into Energy

Wind Energy Projects and Partnerships

Wind and solar energy are key components of our comprehensive approach to eliminating carbon from our operations and achieving our new target to obtain 50% of our electricity needs from renewable resources by 2030.

Our 2019 investment in ALLETE Clean Energy’s Diamond Spring project came to fruition in December 2020, with the wind-power-generating station delivering its first clean energy to the grid. Over the course of our 12-year power purchase agreement, we expect this wind-generated energy will provide as much as 15% of our total energy use across the United States. We will begin receiving renewable energy certificates (RECs) in 2021.

Our 2020 Sustainability Report outlines our efforts to make a lasting impact in our process and policies. It is a wide reaching view of how we want to hold ourselves to the highest standards.

Download the report