HAZLETON, Pa. – Earth Day will be a day of celebration at Cargill’s Hazleton, Pa. meat processing plant.

NSF International finalized its verification of the Hazleton plant as landfill-free in time for Earth Day, which is April 22. NSF verified the Hazleton facility's landfill-free status after a detailed review of documentation and a three-day on-site audit on March 10-12, according to Cargill. Ann Arbor, Mich.-based NSF is an independent global organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the food, water, health sciences and consumer goods industries.

The Hazleton plant is the first Cargill facility in the world to achieve verified landfill-free status.
   
“Having successfully taken the first step, the Hazleton team decided to strive for something that had never been accomplished at Cargill, while pushing the envelope to better align with our global corporate focus on sustainable food production,” said Aaron Humes, the plant’s general manager.

In 2012 Cargill’s Hazleton plant sent 1,500 tons of waste to local landfills, including plastic, bio-solids, paper and other materials. By mid-2013, employees at the facility stepped up recycling efforts and within five months reduced the amount of waste materials going to landfills by 280 tons while saving the company $30,000.

In May 2014 Cargill employees set their sights on becoming a landfill-free facility. Cargill allocated people and funds to the initiative, and found partners that could recycle plastic, bio-solids and other materials. Cargill noted that approximately 1,000 tons of unrecyclable plastic is used to produce energy and about 1,500 tons of food waste is rendered into other products. Additionally, more than a ton of oil is repurposed for use as lubricants.

By early 2015, the Hazleton facility had found non-landfill homes for all of its waste. The 220,000 sq. ft. plant produces more than 10 million lbs. of beef, pork and ground meat products monthly.
“We weren't certain we could go all the way to landfill-free status, but we were confident that we could significantly improve our sustainability footprint,” Humes said. “The team here swung for the fences and hit a grand slam home run. Everyone at Hazleton is proud to be part of this achievement.”