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Natural Resources
Material Resources

Reducing waste is good for our business and the environment as it allows us to streamline costs and send as few materials to landfills as possible.

Our environmental management experts continuously explore innovations in packaging and waste diversion to reduce operational waste output, increase our recycling footprint and reuse waste to add value to products or create new sources of energy.

Waste Generated1 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Waste Generated1Waste Generated (million pounds) FY20184,315 FY20196,045 FY20206,482
Waste Generated1Waste to Landfill (million pounds) FY2018816 FY2019800 FY20201,283
Waste Generated1Waste Diverted from Landfill (million pounds) FY20183,500 FY20195,244 FY20205,199
Waste Generated1Recycle & Beneficial Reuse2 Rate FY201881% FY201987% FY202080%
Waste Generated1Landfill Waste Intensity (pounds landfilled to produce 100 pounds of finished product) FY20182.64 FY20192.60 FY20203.95

1FY2018 and FY2019 includes data from our U.S.-based operations except U.S.-based Cobb-Vantress, The Pork Group, hog buying stations, Keystone Foods, American Proteins, Inc., and Tecumseh Poultry. FY2020 data includes all U.S. based operations as well as U.S.-based Cobb-Vantress, The Pork Group, Keystone Foods, American Proteins, Inc., and Tecumseh Poultry. FY2020 data does not include hog buying stations. International data is not included in any waste metrics. The increase in waste generated can be attributed to improved data reporting with our waste vendors regarding the amount of waste generated and recycled in our operations, including food waste.

2Beneficial reuse can include activities such as composting, land application and digestion.

Packaging

Our packaging strategy aligns with the five “Rs”—Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Renew—and is guided by the recommended packaging metrics and definitions set forth by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) and the Global Packaging Project. The packaging design process prioritizes increasing the use of recyclable and renewable materials, as well as minimizing packaging where possible. At the same time, our packaging must be durable enough to endure handling through receipt, inventory, packing use, distribution, point of sale, consumer use and disposal, as well as meeting our high standards for food compatibility and safety. We stay abreast of innovations in packaging technology and ways to source renewable packaging materials.

The packaging innovation labs and pilot plants at our Discovery Centers in Springdale, Arkansas, and Downers Grove, Illinois, develop sustainable packaging solutions. Engineers at these two facilities conduct extensive testing to optimize final package design and performance. In addition, we leverage the packaging testing capabilities of our strategic packaging suppliers to evaluate new and improved packaging materials and technologies.

The Tyson Foods Packaging Development group is a member of two significant sustainability organizations: the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN) and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition® (SPC®). AMPERIPEN is a leading North American packaging advisory group and gives us insight and participation into legislative initiatives around packaging materials and formats. SPC® is a membership-based collaborative that provides a platform to discuss, partner and engage in packaging technologies, materials and specification developments. They also possesses a comprehensive training and on-package communication tool, How-2-Recycle, that Tyson Foods and our customers are adopting for improved sustainability education aimed toward our customers and consumers.

We further accelerate sustainable packaging progress with our Packaging Sustainability Roadmaps, which Tyson Foods continuously refines with key strategic packaging partners. These matrices help assess current benchmark positions, gaps and initiatives necessary to move to the next level of sustainable packaging.

Our packaging materials and packaging suppliers are required to comply with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) packaging material guidelines and regulations, and Good Manufacturing Practices. Additionally, we require certification and compliance with Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)/ British Retail Consortium (BRC) or Food Safety System Certification (FSSC)-22000 guidelines for food contact packaging.

Food Waste Reduction

We are seeking out opportunities to eliminate or minimize food waste in our direct operations and supply chain. At numerous touch points within our direct operations, we have established food waste diversion measures. For example:

  • At our corporate office, we are conducting a pilot project for composting food waste in our cafeteria in partnership with Food Loops, a local company.
  • In our animal processing operations, there is virtually no waste, and nearly every part of the animal is used. Not only do we harvest the meat for use in our products, we use the majority of animal byproducts to create saleable materials like animal feed, biofuels and fertilizer. We also repurpose byproducts for items such as cosmetics, leather, fertilizer and pharmaceutical ingredients.
  • During the packaging process, we optimize packaging to keep food fresh through its intended use-by date and use state-of- the-art food safety techniques that protect shelf life.
  • In our distribution centers, we optimize pallet load for the most efficient weight and cube utilization in a truck, and we use a world-class inventory and distribution system to keep our food safe and fresh.
  • At the point of sale, we offer consumers portion-controlled options to reduce waste and label guidance on preparation, cooking, storage, sell-by and best-if-used-by dates.

Tyson Foods processes approximately 45% of the poultry byproducts produced in the U.S. These byproducts are rendered into valuable sources of protein and other nutrients to use in industries including pet food, animal feed and aquaculture. Aquaculture is an area of growth for Tyson Foods, and we now provide animal byproduct meals and fats to fisheries in North, Central and South America and Asia. Our acquisition of the poultry rendering and blending assets of American Proteins, Inc. and AMPRO Products, Inc., allows us to value up even more animal products, providing much-needed protein and upcycling materials that would otherwise go to landfills.

Leather Production

Use of animal byproducts is not limited to animal feed. We also process hides from cattle that have been harvested through a variety of curing processes to transform hides and skins into viable tanned leather that can be sold. Given Tyson Foods’ harvest volumes, we are one of the largest tanners of the world using the “wet blue” process, during which hides are treated with chromium salts before being dyed.

We engage with the leather industry as a member of the Leather Working Group (LWG), which works to advance traceability back to hide facilities for their 400-plus members, which include leather manufacturers, suppliers and brands like Tyson Foods. The organization implements an environmental compliance and performance capabilities assessment of leather manufacturers. We’ve been a member of LWG since 2008 and had an executive committee board member for several years.

Each of our tanneries is audited by LWG, and we have received numerous awards for our performance. The LWG auditing protocol requires us to meet a stringent set of environmental controls in our tanneries, including the evaluation of energy use, water use and effluent treatment. While it is primarily an environmental audit, certified tanneries are expected to demonstrate reputable practices in all areas of business.