Approximately $10 million of the funding will be provided by the Canadian government as part of its initiative to help meat processors reduce their environmental footprint. Cargill said this public-private collaboration for creating energy from waste that otherwise would be destined for a landfill is the first of its type in North America and the largest single waste-to-energy project it has undertaken on the continent.
“Using existing technology, we will install specialized equipment that will make our High River beef processing facility the most sustainable and environmentally friendly beef processing facility in the world,” said John Keating, president of Cargill Beef. “Recognizing the environmental, agricultural and community value and benefits of this project is a tribute to the Canadian government and its visionary approach to working with business to find mutually beneficial solutions to long-term challenges.”
The new system once fully operational will eliminate 21,000 metric tons of fossil fuel emissions annually, in addition to mitigating the facility’s electric energy requirements by producing 1.4 megawatts of power. Using organic waste that would otherwise go to landfills also reduces the load on those sites. Combined with the facility’s existing methane gas capture that prevents release of this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, and its subsequent use as fuel for the plant, 75-to-80 percent of the facility’s energy needs will come from renewable sources.
Cargill’s High River beef processing facility employs approximately 2,000 people who harvest 4,000 beef cattle daily, representing $1 billion (US$1.05 billion) in annual cattle purchases and totaling one-third of the nation’s processed beef volume. The facility is also ISO 14001 certified: it has an Environmental Management System (EMS) focused on a systematic and measurable approach to improving its environmental impact. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is recognized as the world’s largest developer of international standards.
“We care a great deal about the environment because it’s the only one we have, therefore we care about finding better ways to feed the growing world population in a sustainable way,” said Keating. “The High River waste-to-energy project is another step in the right direction, and one that could potentially be replicated at our other beef processing facilities around the world, which would be a gratifying achievement.”