The media brand is honoring Tyson Foods for making sustainability a cornerstone of its business strategy.

John S. Forrester, former Managing Editor

April 21, 2022

5 Min Read
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Representative imageImage courtesy of Kristoffer Tripplaar / Alamy Stock Photo

Celebrated since 1970, Earth Day is an annual event to raise awareness of environmental issues and the need to protect our planet’s resources. To mark this important moment, Powder & Bulk Solids announces the winner of its Sustainable Company of the Year.

Powder & Bulk Solids editors selected Tyson Foods as this year’s honoree for making sustainability a major priority and consistently progressing toward its goals.

Tyson has made sustainability a cornerstone of its business strategy. A presentation at CAGNY this February outlined three areas where the company is focusing its efforts: Empowering people, conserving natural resources, and innovating smart, responsible agriculture. This includes supporting the firm’s workers and the communities they live in, as well as programs to improve land stewardship, animal welfare, transparency, traceability, and education. In its facilities, Tyson is working to conserve water, cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and eradicating manufacturing and food waste. The company is also designing and implementing packaging that can be reused, recycled, or composted.

“We have also partnered with the World Resources Institute to assess water risk and develop a water stewardship strategy, completed construction of Tyson Foods Center for Sustainable Broiler Research, announced our global forest protection standard following deforestation risk assessment, and achieved a 7.7% reduction in water use against a 2015 baseline year,” the company wrote in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Sustainability governance and oversight is led by the Board of Directors’ Governance and Nominating Committee. Tyson is currently assessing its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) priorities as part of the process to create the company’s 2030 sustainability strategy, according to a recent proxy statement.

Here are some highlights of why Powder & Bulk Solids editors chose Tyson Foods for this year’s Sustainable Company of the Year:

Plant-Level Progress

Protein industry trade group the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) recognized 44 Tyson Foods plants this March for developing and implementing Environment Management Systems (EMS). Tyson uses the organization’s EMS model to continuously improve the environmental performance of the facilities.

“With 44 facilities receiving awards, Tyson Foods is a bold example for the meat and poultry industry as we work to continuously improve our operations’ environmental sustainability,” said Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, in an announcement.

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Companies using the EMS model are ranked in tiers based on their level of adaptation and implementation. Tier I involves adopting NAMI’s pollution prevention, emergency response, preventative maintenance, and internal communication plans, as well as monitoring and recording water discharge, air emissions and hazardous/solid waste generation rates, and use of water and utilities. Operations advance their tier ranking by adding further responsibilities to increase sustainability, and ultimately achieve Tier IV when facilities receive ISO 14001 EMS designation.

In Tyson’s network, 15 poultry plants, nine prepared foods facilities, six pork plants, and six beef plants have reached Tier 3 status as of this year, along with its River Valley Ingredients plant in Texarkana, AR.

Packaging Sustainability

The company is exploring ways to make its packaging more sustainable at packaging innovation labs and pilot plants at its Discovery Centers in Springdale, AR and Downers Grove, IL. The two sites evaluate new packaging materials and technologies from suppliers and fine tune package design and performance. Tyson shifted packaging for Jimmy Dean products shifted to 100% post-consumer recycled paperboard in 2020, eliminating about 5.2 million lb of waste that would have ended up in landfills.

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Fostering Innovation in Sustainability

Tyson Ventures, the firm’s venture capital arm, is scheduled hold a 'Demo Day' event on July 11 for entrepreneurs and startups to pitch solutions that could support sustainability in the food system to Tyson executives.

“Our ambition is to be the most sustainable and transparent food company in the world – and we believe long-term sustainability will be tied to innovation. We want to play our part and help foster those innovations we think will have the greatest impact to our food system,” John R. Tyson, president of Tyson Ventures, EVP, and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods, said in a release. “We are absolutely committed to work toward a more sustainable food future and partner with future visionaries in this space.”

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The company plans to invest in projects that align with its sustainability goals, including GHG reduction, minimizing food waste, regenerative agriculture, animal welfare, soil health, and more.

The Honor

Powder & Bulk Solids editors independently selected Tyson as the Sustainable Company of the Year based on observations of news reports and company financial documents. Tyson Foods had no role in the decision.

The company’s sustainability achievements are not limited to the examples in this article. Notably, Tyson became the first US-based protein firm to set an emissions reduction target approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in 2021. The company is working to achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2050.

We hope more companies in food and beverage manufacturing and other industries follow Tyson’s suit in making sustainability a part of their business strategy.

About the Author(s)

John S. Forrester

former Managing Editor, Powder & Bulk Solids

John S. Forrester is the former managing editor of Powder & Bulk Solids.

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