Innovating for a Clean Energy Future
two men walking along a manure lagoon

Smithfield Renewables

Measuring Our GHG Footprint

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.

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.

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.

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.

Measuring our GHG footprint



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.

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

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.

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