SCHUYLER, Neb. – Cargill’s Schuyler, Neb., processing facility is enjoying both environmental and dollar cost-saving benefits from a recently completed $4.2 million project to further enhance lighting and a boiler upgrade inside the 500,000-sq. ft. facility.

A facility-wide investment in the most efficient fluorescent lighting available is providing better-quality lighting, reducing utility costs and lowering annual electricity usage by more than 2 million kilowatt hours, Cargill said in a statement. A new boiler will improve the plant’s steam efficiency by nearly 11 percent, reducing energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to the aging boiler it replaced.

“We are always looking for ways to improve our operation and reduce our carbon footprint and overall environmental impact,” said Steve Thompson, vice president and general manager of the Schuyler Cargill Beef processing facility. “Since this facility was acquired by Cargill in 1987, we have continuously made investments to ensure the highest levels of workplace safety, food safety, animal welfare and environmental sustainability."

Two years ago, Cargill’s Schuyler plant adopted a facility-wide, behavior-based, energy-management system, which has resulted in a 4 percent improvement in electrical efficiency, a 5 percent increase in fuel efficiency and a 7 percent reduction in water use.

The company said its Schuyler facility pioneered renewable energy recovery and utilization 10 years ago when it upgraded the wastewater treatment system with anaerobic digesters that allow the plant to recover all of the biogas produced to treat waste water. Capturing the methane in the biogas significantly reduces GHG emissions and is a valuable fuel source. The biogas fuel provides 30 percent of the plant’s total fuel needs, reducing natural gas demand equal to the amount consumed annually by 2,400 residential users.

Annually, the facility recycles approximately 1,000 tons of cardboard, more than 200 tons of metal and 5,600 gallons of used oil, while also providing more than 85 million gallons of treated water to nearby farmers for irrigation. The environmental impact is further minimized since the vast majority of cattle processed at the facility is purchased from producers within a 125-mile radius of the facility.

“As we have seen energy cost increases outpace other operating costs, it is continually more attractive to invest in our energy and resource infrastructure, which also helps us to achieve carbon efficiency improvements,” said Scott Hartter, Cargill Meat Solutions vice president for environment, health and safety.

More than 2,000 people work daily at Cargill’s Schuyler beef processing facility five-days-per-week, processing approximately 1 million head of cattle annually.