Meat & Livestock News

Reducing Waste and Increasing Efficiency in Animal Protein Processing

TL;DR: The animal protein processing industry focuses on water and waste management to enhance sustainability and reduce costs, exemplified by Golden State Foods’ water recycling initiatives.

Embracing Sustainability

The animal protein processing industry focuses on water and waste reduction to establish sustainable practices. These efforts are gaining recognition from business partners and consumers alike.

Cost-Effective Sustainability

As companies progress in managing water and waste, they learn to address more complex sustainability challenges. Along the way, they discover that sustainable practices often reduce costs, thus supporting a virtuous economic cycle.

Golden State Foods’ Commitment

Three years ago, Golden State Foods formalised its commitment to sustainability. This decision was driven by the expectations of fast-food chains, which purchase billions of hamburgers annually from the company. Wayne Morgan, the company president, realised they needed a clear definition of sustainability for their operations. PJ Newcomb was appointed as the sustainability director to develop a structured approach.

Water – A Quick Win

Newcomb identified water management as a quick and clean win. He explained, “Water is cheap, but sewerage and wastewater treatment add to the costs. We aimed to understand the total cost of water to justify our projects.”

Golden State Foods focused on water used in cooling their processing machines. They innovated by recapturing and recycling the water in the cooling pipes, a move away from simply letting it drain away. This low-cost initiative wasn’t expected to save much immediately, so the savings were not meticulously tracked.

The Realisation

In spring 2023, a cooling evaporator failed, and a processing line reverted to the old water disposal method. This incident caused water usage to surge. “It demonstrated that even simple changes like installing new pipes, while not cutting-edge or expensive, can significantly impact costs over time,” Morgan stated.

This example underscores that even the simplest sustainable practices can lead to significant economic benefits, proving that sustainability is not just good for the environment but also for the bottom line.